The following is an excerpt from an interview with our attorney, Samuel L Sachs.
I think it is probably fairly common for people with a DWI-suspended license in NJ to still be driving. However, there isn’t a really good way of knowing how many people are doing it because most people are probably not getting caught. New Jersey is a very difficult state to get around if you do not have a car. Our public transportation system is not that great if you aren’t located in or around a city. There are lots of towns that are large and spread out; it is hard to get everywhere. So I think a lot of times people drive while their license is suspended because they feel an incredible amount of pressure and are worried about how they’re going to keep their jobs or take care of their families if they don’t drive. I think this is especially acute in places that are not very accessible by taxis or Uber. If they do not have any friends or family that can help them by driving them around, then a lot of people feel that they have no choice but to drive even though their license is suspended. There is probably a fairly substantial number of folks who drive at least once during their suspension period, whether the suspension is for a DWI or for another reason like a failure to pay a surcharge or accumulating too many motor vehicle penalty points.
Does New Jersey Allow For A Restricted License After A DWI?
No, in fact New Jersey never allows restricted or hardship licenses on any suspension. No matter what your suspension is for, there is no such thing as a restricted or hardship license in New Jersey. There was some legislation passed a couple of years ago that would have changed that with regard to DWI suspensions, but it was vetoed by the governor. So the status quo is still the same. There is no restricted or hardship license in New Jersey. If your license is suspended your only legal option is not to drive, and if you do you face substantial penalties for getting caught.
What Happens If Someone Is Caught While Driving On A DWI Suspended License In New Jersey?
If you are caught while driving on a suspended license for a DWI, the penalties are extremely serious. For a first offense for any type of suspension, there is a fine of $500 and an additional license suspension of up to six months. However, if your suspension is due to a DWI conviction, then you will receive an additional one to two year loss of license and you will go to jail for 10 to 90 days.
What Are The Penalties For Multiple Offenses Of Driving On A Suspended License?
Let’s first talk about plain old Driving While Suspended for most reasons other than a DWI. A second offense is a $750 fine and 1 to 5 days in jail, and a third or subsequent offense the fine is $1,000 and 10 days in jail. You can lose your registration privileges if the third offense or subsequent offenses occurs within 5 years of a conviction for the same offense. The penalties escalate pretty quickly. Once is bad, but when you get to the second, third and subsequent offenses, you are not just looking at substantial fines, but also jail time, and with each offense there is always an additional license suspension of up to 6 months.
If you are caught multiple times for driving while suspended for a DWI, the penalties absolutely skyrocket. It becomes a fourth degree criminal offense, and it requires that you spend 180 days in jail with no parole, but you could serve up to 18 months in jail.
There are a couple of scenarios that trigger the fourth degree criminal offense. First, if you are caught driving while suspended twice during the same DWI suspension. Second, if you are suspended for a second or subsequent DWI offense and you are caught driving while suspended, that also triggers the fourth degree criminal offense. If you’re convicted of the criminal offense, not only are you going to jail for at least 180 days, but you will have a criminal record and will suffer all the civil penalties associated with that, such as losing your right to vote, to obtain certain kinds of employment, etc.
What Are The Aggravating Circumstances For Driving On A DWI Suspended License?
Simply just the act of driving is the aggravating circumstance. If you have been driving while suspended twice during the same period of suspension for a DWI or have received a second or subsequent DUI suspension and you still drive, you are going to jail for at least 180 days. For that offense, no other aggravating is necessary to trigger these extremely serious consequences.
For more information on Driving On A DWI Suspended License in NJ, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (609) 448-2700 today.