In New Jersey, if you’re convicted of a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) offense, it’s a serious situation. You may be wondering if this will leave you with a criminal record. The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. Technically, in the state of New Jersey, a DWI is not considered a criminal offense but rather a traffic violation. Therefore, if you are convicted of a DWI, you won’t have a “criminal record” in the traditional sense.
Let’s take a moment to unpack this. When we refer to a “criminal record,” we’re generally talking about a record of a person’s previous criminal convictions. These are typically crimes like theft, assault, or drug offenses that are prosecuted in a criminal court. A criminal record can make it hard to get a job, rent an apartment, or even get a loan.
In contrast, a DWI in New Jersey falls under the category of traffic offenses. Traffic offenses include things like speeding, running a red light, or yes, driving while intoxicated. These violations are usually handled by traffic courts rather than criminal courts.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that just because a DWI isn’t considered a criminal offense in New Jersey, it doesn’t have serious repercussions. It does, and they can be far-reaching.
So, what exactly happens if you’re convicted of a DWI in New Jersey? While you won’t have a criminal record, you’ll have a mark on your driving record, which is kept by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC). This mark on your driving record is a bit like a scarlet letter that follows you around. It can affect many aspects of your life, from your driving privileges to your insurance rates. So let’s look a little closer at the penalties for DWI in NJ.
Firstly, your driving privileges can be suspended. Suspension periods can vary from 3 months to several years, depending on factors like your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the offense and whether it’s your first or a subsequent offense. Once you’ve served the suspension period, there are several steps, including attending mandatory alcohol education programs and paying hefty fines, you need to take to restore your driving privileges.
Then there’s the issue of car insurance. After a DWI, you may see your car insurance premiums skyrocket. Insurance companies view those with DWI convictions as high-risk drivers, which translates into higher insurance costs.
Furthermore, if you’re applying for jobs, especially ones that involve driving, your DWI could pose a problem. Many employers perform background checks, which typically include checking an applicant’s driving record. A DWI conviction might make them think twice about hiring you.
Even though you might not have a “criminal record” after a DWI conviction in New Jersey, the consequences can be long-lasting and far-reaching. The fine, the potential suspension of your driver’s license, the hikes in your car insurance rates, and the negative impact on job applications can all combine to make life very difficult.
It’s also important to note that just because a DWI isn’t considered a “criminal offense” in New Jersey, it doesn’t make it any less serious.
If you’ve been arrested for DWI in NJ, fighting a DWI with Reisig Law can save you money for years to come, and keep all doors open to you professionally.
Call us today at 732-625-9660 and talk to an attorney for free.