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The Cost of a DWI Conviction

As an attorney who has handled more than one thousand DWI cases in the past 23 years, I can tell you that a DWI is one of the most common charges the average person is likely to receive.  While most people associate this charge specifically with alcohol, it’s important to keep in mind that it also pertains to any substance that has the ability to alter your sobriety—even certain prescription medications.

N.J.S.A. 39-4-50

According to New Jersey Statute N.J.S.A. 39-4-50, you are considered driving while intoxicated if you “operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol”.

There are some pretty hefty consequences for those convicted of a DWI charge, so make sure you seek legal assistance to clear it up before it affects your life.

The Penalties for a DWI Conviction

The following is a list of penalties associated with a DWI conviction:

  • Jail Term and Fines: Incarceration can be up to 30 days. In addition, you are also required to complete 12-48 hours of community service.  For first offense conviction, your court costs and fines range anywhere from about $3,000 to around $5,000.
  • Loss of License: This is perhaps the most obvious of the consequences of a DWI conviction.  A first offense in the State of New Jersey requires between 3 months to one year suspension of your driving privileges depending on your BAC level.
  • Ignition Interlock Device: If your BAC level was .15% or higher on your first offense, you are required to install an ignition interlock device in all vehicles you own for between 6 months and one year after your driving privileges are reinstated.  You should also note that these devices have a $75 a month maintenance fee.
  • Employment: All the court dates, jail time, and community service that come along with a DWI conviction can greatly affect your current work schedule and job.  A conviction can give you a substantial disadvantage to other applicants since most employers are uncomfortable hiring an employee with a DWI conviction.  Beyond that, some jobs may no longer even be an option for you (like driving a cab or anything with a delivery service).
  • Higher Insurance Rates: If convicted, you would be considered a “high-risk” driver, which means your insurance premium will increase—and could possibly even double or triple in cost for the next few years following the conviction.  Depending on your auto insurance company policy, they could even terminate your coverage.
  • Background Checks: A drunk driving conviction will show up on a background check.  They are common additions to the application process for most employers.  Colleges and universities also look at your history when considering you for admission and for financial aid.  Also know that most schools won’t admit students with DWI convictions and any scholarship money will most likely be withdrawn as a result of a guilty charge.
  • Moving Out of State: Most States share conviction information for DUI/DWI charges. That means if you move to a new State, the new State will honor your conviction from New Jersey and treat it as if it happened in theirs, so there’s no escaping it.
  • Travel: People who have a DUI/DWI conviction are no longer permitted entry into Canada.  If you are a Foreign National and leave the USA, you may not be permitted to return into the USA.

Consulting an Attorney for DWI

Since a DWI charge carries such severe penalties even for first time offenders, you need to seek skilled legal expertise if you want a positive outcome to your case. You will need a team of experts to get you through the process as successfully as possible.  A DWI conviction is not a one and done kind of thing—it will haunt you for years to come.  So call me, Mark A. Schneider, Esq. today at (609) 242-9337 to talk about your options.  Don’t leave your freedom in the hands of fate.

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