Articles Posted in Effect of Arrest or Conviction

New Jersey law imposes numerous penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and related offenses. Penalties like fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension are fairly well known. Since late 2019, the penalties for all DWI convictions include mandatory use of an ignition interlock device (IID). People with DWI and other convictions must have an IID installed in their vehicle in order to reinstate their license. Interfering with or trying to get around an IID is a separate offense under New Jersey law that can bring additional penalties. This post reviews when state law requires the use of an IID, how long a person must use it after their conviction, and when they may have it removed.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An IID is a breathalyzer device that attaches to the steering column of a vehicle. A person must blow into the device in order to start the vehicle’s engine. If the breath sample exceeds a certain blood alcohol content (BAC), the IID stops the ignition from sending a signal to the starter, meaning that the vehicle cannot start.

The BAC level at which IIDs prevent ignition is 0.05 percent in New Jersey. Note that this is lower than the “legal limit” of 0.08 percent, at which the law presumes a person is too impaired to drive.

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New Jersey law does not classify driving while intoxicated (DWI) as a criminal offense. It is a traffic offense only, but still an extremely serious charge with significant potential effects. DWI is a motor vehicle offense in New Jersey that can lead to jail time, fines, and other penalties. Driver’s license suspension is a fairly well-known consequence of a DWI conviction, but that is not the only license it could affect. Other licenses could be subject to suspension, or even revocation. If you are facing DWI charges, a New Jersey DWI defense attorney with knowledge of the law can help you understand your rights and options. Read on to learn more about how DWI can affect different licenses.

Driver’s License

Suspension of one’s driver’s license is one of the main penalties for a DWI conviction. The duration of the suspension depends on the number of prior convictions and the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC):
– First offense, with BAC of at least 0.08 percent but lower than 0.15 percent: As long as it takes for the person to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle
– First offense, with BAC of 0.15 percent or higher: Four months to six months
– First offense involving driving “under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug”: Seven months to one year
– Second offense within ten years of the first offense: One to two years
– Third or subsequent offense within ten years of the previous offense: Eight years

Commercial Driver’s License

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required to operate many large vehicles, such as semi-trailers. A DWI conviction can result in a longer period of suspension or permanent loss of a CDL, which amounts to the loss of one’s livelihood.
– First offense: One-year CDL suspension
– Second offense: Permanent revocation of CDL
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Operating any kind of powered vehicles, such as a car, truck, boat, or airplane, can be dangerous to yourself and others around you. You need a license to drive a motor vehicle on public roads in New Jersey. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a motor vehicle offense under New Jersey law that can result in license suspension, fines, and possible jail time. Aircraft can be even more dangerous than cars or trucks, so the requirements for becoming a pilot are far stricter than most types of driver’s licenses. The penalties for operating an aircraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol — also known as flying while intoxicated (FWI) — can result in penalties under both state and federal law.

Who Is Legally Allowed to Fly a Plane?

Each state handles driver’s licenses for its residents. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) deals with pilot licensing, known as certification, for the entire country. The type of certification depends on factors like the size of the aircraft and the number of passengers. Everyone starts with a student license. From there, the options include:
– Recreational pilots: Limited to small aircraft, short distances, and a small number of passengers;
– Private pilots: Can fly small aircraft with passengers for business purposes; and
– Commercial pilots: Can operate large commercial jets.

What Is Flying While Intoxicated?

Both state and federal law prohibit FWI. New Jersey defines the offense as operating an aircraft “while under the influence of or using intoxicating liquors, cocaine or other habit-forming drugs.” Unlike the DWI statute, it does not specify a blood alcohol content (BAC) amount at which a pilot is presumed to be impaired. Federal law handles that aspect of the offense.
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New Jersey’s driving while intoxicated (DWI) law applies to most motor vehicles, such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, and e-bikes. Riders of non-motorized bicycles are not subject to New Jersey DWI laws. A separate statute addresses operating a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The boating while intoxicated (BWI) statute is similar to the DWI law, but not identical. The fact that the two laws have different penalties has some important effects. Courts can use prior DWI convictions to enhance the penalties for a new DWI offense. The New Jersey Appellate Division has held that past BWI convictions do not count as prior convictions when determining the penalties for a DWI conviction.

The structure of the BWI law is almost identical to the DWI statute. It prohibits operating a “vessel” in two situations:
– While under the influence of drugs or alcohol; or
– With blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more.
It defines “vessel” as “a boat or watercraft…used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.” A “power vessel” is one that has “machinery for propulsion.” The BWI statute applies to power vessels and vessels that are at least twelve feet long. A canoe that is less than twelve feet long, for example, would not be covered by the law since it is not a power vessel. A motorboat of any length would be covered.

The BWI statute also determines penalties the same way as the DWI statute. It establishes four levels of the offense:
1. First offense with BAC of at least 0.08 percent but less than 0.10 percent;
2. First offense with BAC of 0.10 percent or more, or while under the influence of drugs;
3. Second offense; and
4. Third or subsequent offense.
Penalties may include driver’s license suspension, loss of boating privileges, fines, and jail time.
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A person convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New Jersey can file a petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). If successful, this will result in the court reopening the case. Since DWI is a motor vehicle offense instead of a criminal offense under New Jersey law, a petition for PCR is filed in the municipal court that originally heard the case. A PCR petition in a criminal case is filed in the Superior Court, Law Division. The New Jersey Appellate Division recently ruled on an appeal of a denial of PCR in a case involving criminal driving while license suspended (DWLS), which is a charge that can follow a DWI conviction. The court vacated the Law Division’s ruling and sent it back for an evidentiary hearing.

New Jersey DWI convictions result in license suspension, with the length of the suspension depending on several factors. A person with no prior DWI convictions in the past ten years, and whose blood alcohol content was less than 0.10 percent, will receive the shortest period of license suspension, equal to the length of time needed for the person to install an ignition interlock device in their car. The longest license suspension period, eight years, comes with a third DWI conviction within the span of a decade.

In most cases, DWLS is a motor vehicle offense. Penalties may include a fine, a brief jail sentence, revocation of one’s motor vehicle registration, and an extension of the driver’s license suspension. Criminal DWLS occurs when a person drives during a period of license suspension that is the result of:
– A first DWI conviction, and the person has a prior DWLS conviction; or
– A second or subsequent DWI conviction.
A conviction of criminal DWLS carries a mandatory jail sentence of 180 days.
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Under New Jersey law, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a motor vehicle offense that can result in driver’s license suspension, a fine, and a jail sentence. A court may also order someone convicted of DWI to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicle at their own expense. In 2019, the New Jersey Legislature made several changes to the DWI statute. These include modifying the period of driver’s license suspension and making IID use mandatory. The new law took effect at the beginning of December 2019.

Prior DWI Law

Before the new law took effect, New Jersey identified four levels of DWI, based primarily on the number of prior offenses in the ten years preceding the current charge:
1. First DWI offense, with blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08 but less than 0.10 percent;
2. First DWI offense, with BAC of 0.10 percent or higher;
3. Second DWI offense, regardless of BAC; and
4. Third or subsequent DWI offense.

License suspensions ranged from ninety days for the lowest-level DWI offense, to ten years for the highest. Judges had discretion to order installation of an IID for most first offenses, but it was mandatory for subsequent convictions.

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New Jersey’s driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws apply to everyone who drives on this state’s public roadways, regardless of whether they reside in New Jersey or have a driver’s license issued here. A driver from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, or any other state is subject to all of New Jersey’s traffic laws and most of the penalties. A recent decision by the New Jersey Appellate Division addressed a defendant’s claim that this state’s requirement of an ignition interlock device (IID) should not apply to him since his driver’s license is not from New Jersey. The court denied this claim. In doing so, it examined how New Jersey’s DWI laws apply to people from outside the state.

The penalties for a DWI conviction in New Jersey vary based on the number of prior convictions someone has had during the preceding decade. For a first-time conviction or the first conviction in more than a decade, the penalties may vary based on a person’s blood alcohol content. New Jersey also makes it a motor vehicle offense to refuse to submit to breath testing when a law enforcement officer suspects DWI. Penalties for a second, third, or subsequent refusal conviction are harsher than those for a first conviction. Under recent amendments to state law, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) is required for all DWI and refusal convictions.

A conviction for DWI or refusal results in a period of driver’s license suspension. Driver’s licenses are a function of state law. The New Jersey Legislature cannot authorize license suspension for someone from another state who is convicted of DWI or refusal in New Jersey if they do not have a license issued by New Jersey. The state can, however, revoke a person’s driving privileges in this state. This state is a member of the Driver License Compact (DLC), which is an agreement among states to exchange information about motor vehicle offenses and to enforce penalties for out-of-state convictions. Under the points system used by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, for example, an out-of-state moving violation results in two points.
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A conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New Jersey carries several different types of penalties. These range from administrative measures, such as driver’s license suspension, to more punitive actions like fines and possible jail time. Many defendants convicted of DWI must report to an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) to undergo an assessment and participate in services, such as educational programs about drug and alcohol addiction. Failure to attend as required results in jail time. The court must include detailed information about the IDRC and the defendant’s obligations in its judgment. The New Jersey Appellate Division recently remanded a DWI case to a lower court, finding that the court failed to include IDRC information as required by the DWI statute.

The penalties for a DWI conviction depend on two main factors:
1. The number of prior convictions in the past ten years; and
2. In the case of a first offense, or first in the past decade, the defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC) at or near the time of their arrest.
Penalties increase for a second conviction within a decade and again for a third or subsequent conviction. A first offense can have greater penalties if a defendant’s BAC was 0.10 percent or higher, rather than merely above the “legal limit” of 0.08 percent. The IDRC provisions of the DWI statute mainly apply to first-time convictions.

Subsection (f) of the DWI statute directs the counties of New Jersey to establish IDRCs in accordance with guidelines from the state government. Their purpose is to serve “as community treatment referral centers and as court monitors of a person’s compliance” with the conditions of their sentence. Each county may operate its own IDRC, or several counties may have a regional center. Camden County has its own program, run by Camden County College. The state’s Intoxicated Driving Program oversees all of the county programs.

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New Jersey DWI law identifies multiple levels of penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI), primarily based on the number of convictions a defendant has during the ten years prior to the current alleged offense. A third or subsequent offense includes a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days in jail. Municipal courts in New Jersey are authorized by law to allow “periodic service” of a jail sentence, meaning that a person does not have to serve their entire sentence continuously. After a municipal court sentenced a defendant to periodic service of a mandatory 180-day sentence for DWI, prosecutors appealed. They argued that periodic service is not available for a third DWI offense. The Appellate Division agreed with the prosecutors’ argument in July 2018 in State v. Anicama.

Municipal courts in New Jersey have original jurisdiction over motor vehicle and traffic offenses, with some exceptions. The periodic service statute provides that municipal courts may allow a person to serve a jail sentence “periodically on particular days, rather than consecutively.” The person gets credit for each day spent in jail, or for fractions of days “to the nearest hour actually served.”

The penalty for a first DWI offense may vary based on a defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC), with enhanced penalties for BAC of 0.10 percent or more. For a second offense within a ten-year period, the penalty is enhanced further regardless of BAC. A third or subsequent offense carries the greatest possible penalty, including a $1,000 fine, a minimum 180-day jail sentence, a ten-year driver’s license suspension, and mandatory use of an ignition interlock device. According to the DWI statute, a court may decrease the jail sentence by up to ninety days if the defendant completes an approved drug or alcohol inpatient treatment program.
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A conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New Jersey carries multiple penalties, including driver’s license suspension, a fine, and possible jail time. The severity of the penalties depends on the number of prior convictions or, in the case of a first offense, the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The penalties for DWI and refusal to submit to breath testing can also include mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) after reinstatement of a defendant’s driver’s license. Two bills currently pending in the New Jersey Assembly would expand the use of IIDs in DWI and refusal cases. One bill would reduce the period of license suspension for DWI offenses with the use of an IID. The other bill would require IID installation while a DWI or refusal sentence has been stayed pending appeal. If you have questions about the latest laws that relate to charges you might face, reach out to a New Jersey DWI attorney.

An IID is a device attached to a vehicle’s ignition mechanism. The device tests a sample of the driver’s breath to determine BAC, and prevents the vehicle from starting if BAC is above a certain level. Under current state law, municipal court judges have the discretion to order a defendant convicted of a first DWI offense to install an IID at the end of the mandatory license suspension period, provided that the defendant’s BAC was less than 0.15 percent. If BAC was 0.15 percent or higher, IID use is mandatory. For any first-time refusal conviction, IID installation is also currently mandatory. For either offense, the period of court-ordered IID use may be anywhere between six months and one year. Defendants must bear the cost of installing and maintaining an IID.

A bipartisan group of New Jersey legislators introduced A2089 in the Assembly in January 2018. The Assembly Judiciary Committee approved the bill in late November, and referred it to the Appropriations Committee. A companion bill, S824, received a favorable committee report in September. The bill would amend the DWI and refusal statutes, changing the provisions for license suspension and requiring IID installation in some cases.
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