Many people get charged with drunk or drugged driving after having no other brushes with the law.
A New Jersey DUI, or a DWI in New York, is a common offense that upstanding citizens often face either because of a mistake or because of overreaching by the police and the prosecutors who work closely with them.
However, the fact that a first-time offense is common does not mean people should take it lightly. Many people may come to regret a decision to quickly plead guilty to a DWI or DUI just to get it over with.
There are many serious criminal and other penalties that come with a DUI or DWI:
- In New York, a first-time DWI is a criminal case. This means a person who is convicted will have a criminal record. A person can wind up in jail for up to 1 year.
- On the other hand, in New Jersey, a first-time DUI offense ordinarily will not lead to a criminal conviction. However, this means that the accused does not have a right to a jury trial.
- New Jersey’s fines and fees for a DUI are steep. A person will have to pay a $3,000 fee to the DMV in addition to a fine of at least $200 and up to $400. In New York, the minimum fine is $500 and can be up to $1,000.
- A jail sentence of up to 30 days is possible in New Jersey.
- Both states require a license revocation. However, in New Jersey, a person cannot get a hardship license to go to and from work. The minimum license suspension is 3 months, and the person will have to arrange for other transportation during that time.
There are other consequences for a first-time drunk driving conviction
In addition to criminal penalties, there are other consequences to a drunk or drugged driving conviction:
- A person’s insurance premiums can go up substantially.
- If the person drives for a living or frequently as part of their job, they may have a hard time earning income after a conviction. Likewise, if the person cannot get to work legally because of a license suspension, they won’t be able to keep their job.
- Those who hold a CDL will have their CDL driving privileges revoked for a year. This is true even if the incident happened in a private passenger vehicle.
- A person may face disciplinary action against their professional license.
- If the incident happens in New York, there may be other professional and personal fallout from having a criminal record.
- A drunk or drugged driving conviction may result in civil liability if there was an accident.
The bottom line is that even a person accused of a DWI or DUI for the first time should make sure they understand all of their legal options and alternatives.