If you get arrested for DWI while your license is suspended, the penalties are very serious. You will be charged with DWI, Driving While Suspended, and any other offenses you may have committed while driving. If it is your first offense on both the DWI and the Driving While Suspended, then on conviction you would suffer the regular penalties without any mandatory enhancement, but it is possible or maybe even likely that the judge will sentence you more harshly because you were driving while your license was suspended. That is why it is imperative that you hire an experienced DWI defense attorney to help you navigate your charges and minimize the consequences you will face. This is not something that you can reasonably take on by yourself.
If you get a second DWI while you are suspended for the first one, you are certainly not going to impress any judges and they are more likely to give you more than the minimum 10 days in jail and most likely closer to the maximum of 90 days on your Driving While Suspended charge. You will need an experienced, competent attorney represent you and evaluate your case and the strength of the State’s case against you. Again, you don’t want to go through this alone, because the consequences are so serious and the possibility of going to jail is a near certainty.
How Do You Advise Clients Who Want To Plead Guilty To Driving On A DWI Suspended License?
This is one of the areas where there is not always a huge amount that we can do to keep our clients from being convicted. On a normal, non-enhanced Driving While Suspended, if they can get their license restored then they may be able to plea bargain to something else, just like driving without a license or failing to present a valid license, which involve fines and surcharges but not additional license suspensions. But when you are suspended for a DWI, it makes no difference whether or not you can get your license restored before going to court, because although there is no prohibition on plea bargaining these cases, most judges and prosecutors flatly refuse to do it.
What we do is negotiate with the State on the penalty aspect of it, especially in municipal court. While there is the 10 to 90 days in jail, some courts will allow them to do SLAP, which is the Sherriff’s Labor Assistance Program. It is like being on a work crew. You could do 10 days on that. Some county jails will allow you to serve your time on weekends. There are some counties that have what is called “day reporting,” where you show up to jail in the morning and are released in the evening and get to spend your night at home. If we can get the prosecutor to agree to recommend something like that, that’s great for our clients. I have also been successful in arguing for weekend jail or SLAP where the prosecutor has not agreed to recommend it, but the judge agrees to do it anyway after hearing about the personal circumstances of the client. There is nothing in the case law that prohibits it, there is nothing in the statutes that prohibits it, and so we have used the lack of a prohibition to try to convince judges to minimize the penalties. And obviously we want to minimize the amount of time in jail too. We would rather have our clients do 10 days as opposed to the 90 days or anything in between.
What Is The Process When Someone Is Charged With Driving On A Suspended License?
Like any other court process in New Jersey, it can take some time to get from the beginning to the end. When you get pulled over, the cops are going to figure out fairly quickly that your license is suspended. It may even be the reason you were pulled over, if the cop ran your license plate and found that your car is registered to a suspended driver. You will be charged with Driving While Suspended, and from there the process is different depending on whether you are charged with Driving While Suspended under N.J.S.A. 39:3-40 or N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26, meaning whether you are charged under the Motor Vehicle Code or the Criminal Code. If you are charged under the Motor Vehicle Code, you will receive a summons to appear in Municipal Court. If you are charged under the Criminal Code, your case will be referred to the Superior Court and the county prosecutor will prosecute the case against you. Either way, this is the time to get a lawyer involved. If you can, you should get your license restored, to make it easier to plea bargain your case in Municipal Court. Your lawyer will guide you through the rest of the process, from first appearance through guilty plea or trial and sentencing.
Would Someone Have To Go Back To Court On The Old Conviction?
No. It does not impact the old DWI conviction at all, so you do not have to deal with that again. You will have to go to court on the new charge and deal with that. Either way, if you are facing a criminal Driving While Suspended or a municipal/traffic Driving While Suspended, you want to get a lawyer involved as soon as possible. The sooner you get a lawyer involved, the better for you.
For more information on DWI Arrest With A Suspended License, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (609) 448-2700 today.