If you are facing DWI charges, you may be justifiably worried about what type of penalties you can expect. Is DWI a criminal offense in NJ?
The good news is no — and as result, a DWI will not show up on any form of criminal background check. It will also not affect your ability to apply for housing or find employment in the future.
However, DWI is often considered a “quasi-criminal offense”, meaning that it does share certain characteristics with a criminal charge. Depending on the severity of your offense or how you handle it, you could face jail time and other criminal penalties. Our experienced New Jersey attorney can help your DWI Case, contact us today.
How Does DWI Differ From Criminal Offenses in NJ?
In New Jersey, criminal offenses, quasi-criminal offenses, and traffic offenses are classified under an idiosyncratic system. Determining where exactly DWI fits into the system is somewhat difficult in terms of the potential consequences to your record.
While most DWIs are categorized as traffic offenses, NJ law may treat it as a quasi-criminal offense. This is because the penalties often mirror those associated with criminal offenses. That being said, typically if your blood alcohol concentration was over .08% while behind the wheel, you will face a traffic charge and not a criminal offense.
It’s also noteworthy that unlike with criminal cases with indictable offense, you will not be tried by a jury with a quasi-criminal offense.
What Are the Penalties for DWI?
But you can still face severe consequences and penalties if convicted of DWI. For instance, a conviction can carry up to six months in jail, thousands of dollars in fees and fines, and months of a suspended driver’s license. Those penalties apply even for first time offenses.
The more DWI offenses you are convicted of, the harsher your penalties become. For example, a second offense carries a two year driver’s license suspension, while a third offense carries a 10 year suspension. In addition, a third DUI conviction will result in a mandatory 180 day jail sentence.
Although the DWI will not show up on your criminal record, it can show up on certain licensing background checks. This may present a serious problem in the future if you want to obtain a commercial driver’s license.
When Can a DWI Become a Criminal Charge?
So when is DWI a criminal offense in NJ? It can become a criminal offense if there are specific aggravating circumstances present. For instance, if you are driving under the influence with a child in the car, you could face a criminal charge for endangering the welfare of a child.
In addition, if you were driving recklessly while drunk and you caused injury to another person, you could be facing a charge of assault by auto.
While most DWIs in NJ are not criminal offense, a conviction still comes with steep penalties that could negatively affect your life for years to come. You need a New Jersey DWI attorney who can protect your rights and build a solid defense strategy. Contact Samuel Louis Sachs Esq LLC today to learn more about how we can help.