New Jersey DWI: Will it Effect My Professional Employment?

doctor.jpgIf you are charged with a New Jersey DWI, and you are a doctor, nurse, lawyer, teacher, pilot, or other professional, you may have added concerns about the effect of a NJ DWI arrest or conviction on your profession.

DWI in New Jersey is not a criminal offense. It is a traffic offense, only. This is different than how 48 other states treat DWI/DUI. However, that does not reduce the severity of the charge and resulting effects in New Jersey. There is still loss of driving privileges, fines, and significant surcharges.

Because DWI is not a crime in New Jersey, it is not reported to criminal databases, such as the NCIC or National Crime Information Center, and will not be discovered during a criminal background check.

So, when someone asks, “Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime?” — as it pertains to a DWI arrest in New Jersey, the answer is “no”.

If the question is, “Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a serious traffic offense?” — with regard to the DWI arrest in New Jersey, the answer is “yes”.

Unless your profession has alcohol related reporting requirements, then there are usually no repercussions regarding the DWI arrest or conviction. In my twenty years as a DWI attorney in New Jersey, I am aware only of FAA requirements for pilots to report DWI arrests on their medical forms.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that no disciplinary consequences can result from a DWI arrest or conviction to one’s employment.

Recently, a lawyer was disciplined after he pled guilty to a DWI and leaving the scene of an accident. He was also charged with fourth degree assault by auto, which is a criminal offense, because of the rear-end accident he caused. Because he left the scene of an accident and was charged criminally, the Attorney Disciplinary Review Board found that he violated a rule of professional conduct that says that commission of a criminal act that reflects adversely on an attorney’s honest, trustworthiness and fitness, requires discipline.

This was an unusual circumstance, but, should serve as notice to any professional to thoroughly analyze the DWI arrest and conviction scenario that is specific to his/her circumstance with a qualified DWI attorney.