The bottom line is that you are downright worried. You were arrested for drunk-driving, and a million thoughts are racing through your head. First, will you go to jail if you’re found guilty? You’ve heard that you face license suspension. You can’t help but wonder. How long will you lose your license for a first DWI conviction?
If you’re a first-time offender, there’s no doubt these represent your biggest fears. You’ll surely face court costs and fines. Doing without your driver’s license for any amount of time certainly sounds like more than a little inconvenience. Again, there is the idea of finding transportation so that you can make it to your job.
When it comes to your employment, getting arrested for drunk-driving can be devastating. Those who drive for a living, such as truck drivers and bus operators, face suspension at work. For you, it may be just a matter of catching a bus or train. Or, you could dole out additional expenses for rideshare services like Uber or Lyft.
For a moment, you think back to the time when your buddy in Connecticut went to court for his drunk-driving case. Somehow, it worked out for him. The judge told him his license would just be limited during the suspension period. He was at least able to go back and forth to his place of employment..
The bad news? The law in Connecticut does not apply to New Jersey drivers. As it now stands, you don’t get any leeway for a DWI conviction in New Jersey. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first offense. A suspended license means you can’t legally get behind the wheel until the suspension period ends.
Driving after a First DWI Conviction
New Jersey does not entertain limited or hardship licenses. Under New Jersey’s current DWI statute, first time DWI offenders face a minimum of three months without their license. Even if you can demonstrate any type of hardship, the judge will not grant you any driving time during the time your license is taken from you.
Broken down, your mistake translates to at least 2100 hours you’ll have to worry about how you’ll get around. You can’t use your car to bring the kids to school or run to the grocery store. Once again, there’s also the big problem you’ll face as far as your work schedule.
In case you’re even considering it, it’s not worth the risk to get behind the wheel while you’re suspended. If you’re caught, the penalties mean a longer time without your license. You could also find yourself behind bars.
New Legislation Could Change Penalties
Good news could come if proposed state legislation passes. Most importantly, Senate Bill 824 calls for the minimum mandatory suspension period for first time drunk-driving convictions to drop to thirty days. Comparatively speaking, the shorter time makes it easier to work out your transportation needs.
In the meantime, count on a tradeoff if the law goes into effect. After you get your driving privileges back, you’ll face additional penalties – generally reserved for those with multiple DWI convictions. You’ll need to install an ignition interlock device.
Ignition interlock devices require drivers to blow into a device before they can even start their car. The machine acts like a breathalyzer in measuring blood alcohol content (BAC). If the new law passes, you could be ordered to install the device and pay fees for three to six months after restoration of your license.
More than likely, you already know that drunk-driving charges are serious and potentially life-changing. The Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafajlo has represented thousands of DWI defendants. We are here to assist you in obtaining the best possible resolution to your case. Contact us to schedule an appointment.