If you are facing DWI charges, you’re probably well aware of the long-term consequences of having a criminal record. For one, it can make finding a job, especially ones involving driving, almost impossible. It can also make applying for scholarships or seeking vocation training especially difficult. And the challenges don’t stop there. If you are convicted of another DWI, you could face even stiffer penalties.

So how long does a DWI stay on your driving record in New Jersey? At Samuel Louis Sachs Esq, LLC, we know the challenges of having a DWI charge haunt you for years. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.

How New Jersey Law Treats DWI Convictions

New Jersey law classifies DWI as a traffic violation, which becomes part of your permanent driving record.

Because it’s not treated as a criminal offense, a DWI conviction can’t be expunged, or erased from your driving record. So, a DWI conviction will stay on your record for the rest of your life along with other traffic violations.

At the same time, DWI isn’t a crime and doesn’t appear on your criminal record. A criminal record includes “indictable crime” and “disorderly persons offense” convictions, punishable by one or more years in prison. These are referred to as “felonies” in other states. A criminal record also contains “misdemeanors” punishable by less than one year in prison.

Though DWI can potentially result in time in a New Jersey prison, it is not a crime. The advantage of this is that a DWI conviction won’t show up on a criminal background check. The disadvantage is that it can haunt you for life.

What Happens When You’re Looking for Employment?

Because a DWI conviction doesn’t show up on a criminal record in New Jersey, an employer might not see it. The FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is an electronic database of crime data and criminal records. New Jersey doesn’t report DWI convictions to the NCIC. So, your DWI conviction will only show up during an employment screening that checks both criminal and driving records.

If an employer doesn’t check your criminal and driving records, your DWI will remain unknown to them. You aren’t obligated to disclose the DWI to a potential employer either. If your criminal record is clean, you could deny any criminal convictions you’re asked about.

You still have options if the job you’re applying for performs a comprehensive background check and uncovers your DWI. Federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) prohibits employers from denying jobs without cause. If a DWI conviction doesn’t affect the work to be performed, you are eligible for that job. So, while you may not be able to be hired for a driving job, you could be hired for a desk job.

What Penalties Will You Face When You’re Convicted of DWI?

New Jersey has a ten-year “step-down rule”, which increases penalties for multiple DWI offenses committed within a ten-year period. A second DWI conviction more than ten years from the first will be penalized like a first offense.

A third DWI conviction less than ten years from the second does not benefit from the step-down. It is penalized as a third offense with 180 days in jail and a ten-year suspension of your driver’s license.

DWI penalties also increase based on how intoxicated you are. A blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08%-.10% carries lighter penalties than drug intoxication or a BAC over .10%. A first offense with a BAC of .08%-.10% will result in a $250-$400 fine. You’ll also spend 12 hours in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center and have your license suspended for three months.

A BAC over .10% will increase the fine to $300-$500 and 12 hours in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. Your driver’s license will also be suspended for 7 months to a year. A BAC of .15% or higher will result in mandatory ignition interlock for over one year.

A second DWI increases the fine to $500-$1,000, license suspension to two years, and Resource Center time to 48 hours. It also comes with up to 90 days in jail and 30 days of community service. A third DWI increases the fine to $1,000, jail time to 180 days, and license suspension to ten years. Prison time as a result of a DWI will show up on your criminal record and a criminal background check.

An East Windsor NJ DWI Attorney Can Help

To keep a clean driving and criminal record, your best bet is to not be convicted of DWI in the first place.  If you are facing DWI charges, an experienced DWI attorney in East Windsor NJ can help. At Samuel Louis Sachs Esq. LLC, we can help you fight the DWI charges against you and inform you of your options if you’ve been convicted. Contact us today for more information.