Will New Jersey Find out about an Out of State DWI Conviction?

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New Jersey imposes harsher and harsher DWI penalties the more DWI convictions you accumulate. Essentially, a second DUI offense is treated much more harshly than a first offense, and so on. But what if you were convicted of a DWI out of state and you are charged with a second, third or subsequent DUI in NJ? Will New Jersey find out about that out of state conviction or convictions? This article explores the likelihood of New Jersey discovering your DWI conviction in another state and the potential impact on your New Jersey DUI case. To receive immediate assistance from a highly trained and experienced DWI defense lawyer, contact us today at (732) 659-9600. With offices in Edison, our local DUI attorneys defend clients in East Brunswick, South Brunswick, New Brunswick, Woodbridge, South Amboy, Carteret, and municipal courts throughout Middlesex County. We are available anytime to provide you with a free consultation.

Charged with DWI in NJ, What if my first DUI was in Another State?

Forty-five states participate in a program known as the Driver’s License Compact. States that participate in this agreement share information on driver’s license suspensions and traffic violations committed in states where the driver is not a resident. States outside of the one where the offender lives report convictions and suspensions back to the offender’s home state. Generally, if the offender’s home state has a similar traffic offense on its books, it will treat the out-of-state offense as if it were committed in the offender’s home state. New Jersey’s participation in this program substantially increases the likelihood that the state will find out about your out of state DWI conviction.

Prosecutors and police can also run your multi-state RAP sheet (or FBI criminal information locater information) to find your out of state DWIs through a separate process. It is thus fairly likely that New Jersey will learn of your conviction for DWI in another state, particularly if you are arrested for a second or subsequent DWI in New Jersey.

How does an Out-of-State DWI Conviction Impact a DWI Charge in New Jersey?

Although it may seem unfair, New Jersey can actually impose penalties on you based on your out-of-state DWI conviction. If New Jersey learns through the Driver’s License Compact reporting procedures that you sustained an out-of-state DWI, New Jersey can suspend you driver’s license and hit you with expensive surcharges and similar penalties. Under a new law passed in New Jersey in August 2019, first-time DWI offenders are typically required to install ignition interlock devices in their cars following a DWI conviction. It remains to be seen whether New Jersey will start imposing these ignition interlock device requirements on New Jersey residents convicted of DWIs outside the state. Notably, you can be subjected to these consequences in addition to the penalties imposed in the state that you were visiting, traveling through, or formerly living.

New Jersey Often Counts Out-Of-State DUI’s as Prior Convictions

Even worse than the administrative suspension and surcharges discussed above, your out-of-state DWI conviction can potentially count as a prior DWI conviction if you are arrested for a subsequent drunk or drugged driving offense in New Jersey at a later date. Second and subsequent DWIs are treated much more harshly than first-time DWI offenses in New Jersey; second and subsequent offenders are subject to much more jail time, longer license suspension and ignition interlock device obligations, and higher fines, among other stiff and escalating penalties. There are some exceptions to this rule. Under New Jersey’s DWI “step down” rule, DWI convictions (whether sustained in the state or out of state), typically do not count as a prior offense on your record after ten years have elapsed following the date of your conviction.

Furthermore, if your out-of-state DWI conviction was not based on a DWI law similar to New Jersey’s, that out-of-state DWI will not be counted as a prior conviction that increases the penalties you face in New Jersey. This generally applies if you were convicted of driving with a BAC under .08. According to NJ DWI law:

“A conviction of a violation of a law of a substantially similar nature in another jurisdiction, regardless of whether that jurisdiction is a signatory to the Interstate Driver License Compact pursuant to P.L.1966, c.73 (C.39:5D-1 et seq.), shall constitute a prior conviction under this subsection unless the defendant can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the conviction in the other jurisdiction was based exclusively upon a violation of a proscribed blood alcohol concentration of less than 0.08%.”

How can a Lawyer Help with my New DWI in East Brunswick NJ?

When it comes to a prior DUI from another state, these rules can be complicated. As such, if you have an out-of-state DWI arrest and are charged with new DUI in New Jersey, you consult an knowledgeable attorney with experience handling many DWI charges as soon as possible. Our DUI lawyers are thoroughly prepared to skillfully defend you. Contact us now at (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation.

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.