How Can a DWI Affect Your Life in New Jersey?


A conviction for a DUI violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 can drastically alter the course of your life. For some, the impacts are more financial than anything else. For others, the consequences of this motor vehicle offense are far-reaching beyond the monetary issues. The penalties for a DWI conviction in New Jersey can be severe. After all, you may go to jail, lose your job, forfeit your driving privileges, suffer immigration consequences, and feel like you are buried in outstanding payments. Moreover, between being arrested and going to court, the emotional turmoil often manifests in stress and conflict with family members and loved ones.

At William Proetta Criminal Law, our DWI defense attorneys apply all of our knowledge of the law and experience handling DWI charges to your case, making it easier for you to attack it head on. We are fortunate that many individuals charged with DWI offenses have put their trust in us to represent them in Municipal Courts throughout Hudson County, such as Jersey City, Hoboken, Bayonne, Weehawken, Secaucus, Union City, and Kearny. When feeling overwhelmed by a DUI charge, our skilled DWI lawyers take on the stress and burden for you. With our representation, you are encouraged to look to us for advice and can take comfort in knowing that we have represented scores of individuals confronted with what you are facing right now. For immediate assistance with your DWI or DUI case, contact our local Jersey City office at (201)-793-8018 or contact us online for a free consultation.

What Happens When You Get a DWI in New Jersey?

No matter who you are or where you come from, all driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs cases start with an arrest and a future date for court. If you have been arrested for a DUI or related offense, you will be given a summons for municipal court. A DWI is a motor vehicle ticket that is heard in the municipal court in the town in which the motor vehicle infraction allegedly occurred. In case in which you have been charged with a felony offense in addition to a drunk driving charge, the DUI case is coupled with the other charges and sent to the county superior court instead.

The court will require your attendance several times in the weeks that follow. At some point, the prosecutor will attempt to resolve the case and they may also need more time to obtain the discovery. For this reason, the court case can be prolonged over multiple dates and hearings. During this time, DWI attorneys may also choose to file motions, hire experts, seek better results, and ultimately conduct a trial. At trial, the prosecutor has the burden of proving that you operated a motor vehicle while impaired due to alcohol or some other substance, such as a marijuana DUI, or driving while impaired by heroinoxycodone, or MDMA.

When our team represents you, our office sends a letter to the court advising them that we are representing you. Our DWI defense attorneys also request all discovery, such as police reports, videos, statements, pictures, and breathalyzers test results, from the municipal prosecutor. After receiving the information and intensively examining it, we advise you of the legalities of the case, any defenses, and discuss how you may wish to proceed. With his training and certification as an operator for the Drager Alcotest machine, the breathalyzer device used in DWI cases, plus his certification as a Standard Field Sobriety Testing Instructor, founding partner William A. Proetta is uniquely positioned to evaluate the state’s evidence against our clients charged with drunk driving. He often uses this to great advantage, pinpointing issues and critical failures that offer defenses and potential opportunities for evidence exclusion, which ultimately leads to the charges being dismissed.

What Is the Punishment if You Are Convicted of a DUI in NJ?

If you are found guilty after a trial or you plead guilty to a DUI offense, there are immediate consequences. The particular punishment for a DUI depends on many factors, including your blood alcohol content, whether drugs played a role, and how many DWI convictions you have had in the past. Generally, for a DUI case, you will immediately lose your right to drive in this state. However, under the most recent law, effective as of December 2020, the suspensions can be minor for first time offenders. Nonetheless, the length of the suspension also depends on the aforementioned factors. For example, a first time DWI offender will be sentenced much differently than a third time offender. The following is a list of sentences, fines, and penalties that immediately occur upon sentencing for a DUI.

First offense DWI:  BAC .08%-.10%

  • Forfeit your license until you install an ignition interlock device on your car. Interlock must be installed for 3 months;
  • Fines $250-$400;
  • Intoxicated Drivers Resource Program (pay for the cost) for 12-48 hours;
  • $1000 insurance surcharge per year for three years;
  • No points on your license but points assessed by insurance (applies to any DUI);
  • Jail up to 30 days.

First time DWI: BAC .10%-.15%

  • Forfeit your license until an ignition interlock device installed for 7-12 months;
  • Fines $300-$500;
  • Insurance surcharges of $1000 per year for 3 years;
  • Jail, IDRC, surcharges same as the above

1st DUI Charge: BAC .15% and higher

  • All of the same penalties as above except that the driver’s license will be forfeited for 4-6 months.
  • Install an ignition interlock device for 9-15 months.

Note: For a first DUI resulting from narcotics or controlled substances other than alcohol, your license will be forfeited for a minimum of 7 months.

Second Offense DUI

  • Forfeit your license for 1-2 years and install an ignition interlock device for 2-4 years.
  • Fine of $500-$1000;
  • IDRC minimum of 48 hours;
  • 30 days of community service;
  • $1000 insurance surcharge per year for three years;
  • Up to 90 days in jail.

Third DWI Conviction

  • Forfeit your license for 8 years and install ignition interlock device for 2-4 years;
  • Fine $1000;
  • Insurance surcharge $100o-$1500 per year for three years depending on the time between the first and third offense;
  • Jail 180 days mandatory (90 days may be served in an inpatient rehab and the remaining 90 days in jail).

Additional Fines for any DWI Offense:

  • $50 Victims of Crime Compensation Association fee (VCCA);
  • $100 fee for an Intoxicated Driving Program;
  • $75 Safe Neighborhood Fund Fee (SNF);
  • $100 restoration fee to DMV to restore your license;
  • $100 Drunk Driving Education Fund;
  • Pay the cost of leasing the Interlock Device.

In addition to any insurance points, assessments, and suspensions, the DUI remains on your driving record forever. The reflection of the DWI on your record will be used to identify the number of these offenses that you have committed and will further impact the way the court sentences you for any subsequent DWI charges.

Are There Any Additional Consequences of a DWI Conviction in NJ?

There are countless ways that a DUI can affect your life. Some are more readily known, but others may be more personal to your situation. For instance, if you need your license to work, you may lose your employment or your employer may see you as a liability. The unique facts of your case, such as companion charges for eluding an officerassault by autoleaving the scene of an accident, or child endangerment for driving drunk with a minor in the car, should be examined thoroughly for potential collateral consequences as well.

As with almost anything in life, there are often unanticipated repercussions of a DUI beyond your control. If you are not a United States Citizen, you must consider the potential immigration consequences. Immigration reviews cases, making determinations as to whether individual acts meet the criteria for moral turpitude. Immigration cases are often unpredictable and sometimes there is no clear cut answer as to what is considered a crime of moral turpitude. Whether the case involves a felony, drugs, or injuries are all important factors that can have a drastically different impact from a DWI standing alone. Since there are many factors that play into whether the DUI can impact your status in the United States, it must be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Also, you will be required to attend IDRC upon conviction. This is an educational class that spans up to 48 hours, during which you will be evaluated for substance abuse issues. As a result of the IDRC evaluation, you may be ordered to undergo additional treatment, jeopardizing you job, schooling, and many other facets of your life.

Charged With Dui in Hudson County?

When a DWI charge happens to you, it may feel like you are living in a house of cards and just waiting for it to fall. That’s where we come in. The highly credentialed DWI defense lawyers at the Hudson County law office of William Proetta Criminal Law know what the court looks for to convict on a DUI, what proof is needed, and how to counteract the state’s proposed evidence. We look forward to discussing the facts of your case, defenses, and possibilities to best handle your drunk driving or driving on drugs charge. Just call our local Jersey City office at (201)-793-8018 for a free consultation and help today.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.