With its abundance of tourist attractions and close proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, the highways of New Jersey receive a considerable amount of traffic from out of state drivers. If you are a non-resident driver who has been caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be charged with an NJ DWI and be subject to penalties including fines, license suspension, mandatory participation in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) and possibly jail time upon conviction.
NY and PA Residents Facing an NJ DWI
If you are convicted of drunk driving in New Jersey, you will also be subject to penalties from your home state, which can be especially complicated if your state classifies DWI's as criminal offenses. NJ DWIs are considered motor vehicle offenses, unless someone is injured or killed in a DWI-related accident. For resident drivers, an NJ DWI conviction will be permanently recorded on their driver's abstract, but it does not result in a criminal record. However, if you are a New York or Pennsylvania resident, a first DWI is classified as a misdemeanor, while second and subsequent DWI's are charged as felonies. A criminal record makes it difficult to find a job or obtain bank loans, and can disqualify you from certain housing communities and college programs.
Out of State Residents Subject to Suspension in NJ and Home State
New York and Pennsylvania residents should also be aware that their driving privileges will be suspended in their home state, as well as in New Jersey. This policy is the result of the Interstate Driver License Compact of 1961, which was designed to promote highway safety among out of state motorists. States belonging to the Compact, such as NJ, NY and PA will automatically report an out of state DWI conviction to the appropriate licensing authority, who will then suspend or revoke the offender's driving privileges. You should account for some administrative delays in the reporting process, which means that your home state may not begin your license suspension until months after your conviction in New Jersey.
There may also be differences in the duration of the suspension period between New Jersey and your home state. New York, for example, imposes a mandatory license suspension of 1 year for those convicted of an underage DWI (under the age of 21). If you're from Pennsylvania, you may not be subject to license suspension if your BAC was lower than 0.09%, and you have had no prior DUI convictions with the past 10 years. This is quite different from New Jersey's zero tolerance policy, which suspends driving privileges for anyone with a BAC over the legal limit, even if you have no prior record. There are also rules governing whether you must participate in a New Jersey IDRC, or if you can attend an IDRC equivalent in your home state.
Call an NJ DWI Attorney About Your Out of State DWI or Refusal Charge
If you are an out-of-state driver who has been charged with a DWI in New Jersey, you must speak with an attorney about your rights and defense options. In addition to the penalties under New Jersey law, you may be facing numerous damaging consequences under your home state's law — especially if DWI's are classified as criminal offenses in your state. With so much at stake, please consider speaking with Partner Carmine R. Villani, Esq. of Villani & DeLuca. Mr. Villani has over 20 years of experience in both the prosecution and defense of DWI cases throughout New Jersey. As a former municipal prosecutor and public defender for numerous municipalities throughout Ocean and Monmouth Counties, he has extensive trial experience in the court system that will be handling your case. Please call (732) 709-7757 to schedule a free consultation with Mr. Villani.