The Real Cost of a DWI Conviction
By Tom Chaves, Esq.
While most people associate this charge with alcohol specifically, it’s important to remember that it also pertains to any substance that has the ability to alter your sobriety.
Under New Jersey law, 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”.
The state of New Jersey imposes harsh penalties on people found guilty of a DWI charge, so it’s very important that you retain a skilled DWI lawyer as soon as possible.
The Penalties for a DWI Conviction:
- Loss of License: This is perhaps the most obvious of the consequences of a DWI conviction. For a first offense in the state of New Jersey you get anything from 3 months to a year’s suspension of your driving privileges, depending on your BAC (“blood alcohol level”).
- Jail Term and Fines: Jail time can be anything up to and including 30 days. In addition, you are also required to complete 12-48 hours of community service. For first offense convictions, your court costs and fines could range from a minimum of $250 to $400 and an insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years.
- Ignition Interlock Device: If your BAC level was .15% or higher on your first offense, you also must have an ignition interlock device installed in your primary vehicle both during the period of suspension and for 6 months up to a year after your driving privileges are reinstated. You should also note that it’s about $75 a month to rent the ignition interlock device. You must rent it as it is not for sale to the public.
- Higher Insurance Rates: If convicted, you would be considered a “high-risk” driver, which means your insurance premium will increase—and could possibly 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 after the policy period expires.
- Background Checks: A drunk driving conviction may show up on a background check. They are common additions to the application process for most employers. Colleges and universities look at your history when considering you for admission and for financial aid purposes. You should note that most schools don’t admit students with DWI convictions and any scholarship money could also be withdrawn as a result. Many landlords also do background checks before renting out space.
- Employment: Court dates, jail time, and the community service that come along with a DWI conviction can greatly affect your job and work schedule. As previously stated, a conviction will put you at a substantial disadvantage to other applicants since a lot of employers are uncomfortable bringing on an employee with a DWI conviction. To take this further, some jobs may no longer even be an option for you (like driving a cab or anything with a delivery service).
One of the most important decisions you can make is deciding on the attorney to represent you. A DWI conviction is not a one and done deal—it will haunt you for years to come. Don’t leave your freedom in the hands of fate. Being charged with driving while intoxicated is a serious matter, which is why you need my expertise. I have successfully defended scores of DWI cases in the state of New Jersey, so give me, attorney Tom Chaves, a call today at (908) 256-3039 to talk about your options.