An arrest for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New Jersey is a very serious matter with severe and long-lasting consequences. Even for a first offense, drunk driving charges can result in the loss of your license, significant fines and penalties, insurance surcharges, installation of an interlock device in your car, community service, and possible jail time. In addition to legal penalties, a DWI conviction can carry other consequences that many people fail to take into account. DWI can interfere with your ability to rent a car and to travel to certain countries. Professional boards may impose their own penalties, which may involve the loss of your job or eligibility to obtain certain kinds of employment. A DWI conviction can continue to show up on background checks for the rest of your life, affecting your freedom and range of opportunities long after you have satisfied all court-imposed penalties.
It is important for anyone facing a DWI charge to consider all of the consequences involved and to treat the matter with urgency and gravity. A perfect driving record and/or lack of prior criminal history does not guarantee that you will get off with a minor fine. Municipal prosecutors are prohibited from negotiating a DWI charge down to a simple moving violation, so it is critical to handle the matter seriously and delicately. In determining what penalty to issue for a conviction, the court will take many factors into consideration, including, but not limited to, your driving history, your conduct, whether your driving caused a traffic accident resulting in property damage or personal injury, and reckless driving that may have exposed innocent parties to the risk of death or injury. The court may consider these factors in determining whether to impose the minimum penalties or to move toward the higher end of the penalty range. The consequences of a DWI conviction are serious and can be viewed via the links below