DWI - The Hidden Costs
New Jersey law does not differentiate between DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence). The terms, sometimes used interchangeably, both refer to a person driving a motor vehicle while impaired by the use of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications. Whatever you call it, this motor vehicle violation comes with harsh penalties.
Once convicted of a DWI in New Jersey, you will face fines of up to $1,000; suspension of your driver’s license for up to 10 years, and possible jail time. Penalties are dependent on your offense record and the particulars surrounding your individual case.
Educational and Prevention Programs
Upon your conviction for a DWI, you will have to pay a fee to the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, a network of county and regional centers where convicted drivers are detained, educated and evaluated to determine the need for additional intervention services. You’ll also have to pay fees to a number of other funds, including the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund, the Drunk Driving Fund, and the Neighborhood Services Fund.
Annual Surcharge and the Consequences for Not Paying
In addition to those fees, you will be ordered to pay a surcharge to the New Jersey Violations System. This surcharge is assessed annually for a period of three years following your conviction. The amount varies depending on the record of your offense.
Failure to pay this surcharge can lead to additional problems. The State can:
- · refuse to reinstate your driving privileges until the surcharge is paid in full;
- · prevent you from selling property;
- · report you to a collection agency;
- · charge additional fees for collection and interest.
DWI Penalties Move with You
Moving out of State does not get you off the hook for this surcharge. If your driving privilege is suspended in New Jersey, you will be reported to the National Driver Registry, which is used by other states when issuing or renewing licenses within their jurisdiction. You can be refused a driver’s license in those states if you fail to pay your surcharge in New Jersey.
Furthermore, if you hold a New Jersey driver’s license and are convicted of a violation in another state equivalent to a New Jersey DWI, you can be assessed the New Jersey surcharge.
Ignition Interlock Devices
The court also may require you to get an ignition interlock device (IID), which will prevent you from starting your vehicle if your blood alcohol content (BAC) reads 0.05% or higher. You also will have to pay all costs associated with the IID, including installation, monthly service fees for calibration and monitoring, and removal once the penalty period has expired.
The Effect of a DWI on Your Insurance
Most insurance companies, when learning of a DWI conviction, consider you a high risk. You will no longer be eligible for “safe driver” discounts, and your insurance rates most likely will increase dramatically.
In assessing your risk as a customer, insurance companies consider such factors as the specific details surrounding your DWI conviction; how long you have been their customer; and whether you have any other moving violations or insurance coverage lapses on your record. Depending on the answers to these questions, your coverage can be terminated altogether.
Potential Loss of Income
There are no provisional licenses in New Jersey, meaning if your driver’s license is suspended as a result of a DWI, you are not allowed to drive at all during that suspension period – not even to work or school. If you are unable to make alternative transportation arrangements, you risk losing your job. You also risk losing any professional licenses you may hold, the right to obtain a driver’s license in another state, and even the ability to travel to some other countries.
More Hidden Costs
Other hidden costs associated with a DWI conviction include the cost of having your license restored, and any related jail and / or court costs, including lawyers’ fees. However, with so much at stake, it is advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced DWI attorney when faced with these charges.
In New Jersey, the validity of the DWI charge can be put into question. The attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm are experienced with defending against DWI charges. They will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding your specific case in an effort to mitigate the consequences. Call our offices today at 908-534-7900 to set up a consultation.