If you get charged with a DUI in New Jersey, is that a criminal offense?

Will a New Jersey DUI show up on your criminal record?

And is there any way to clear a DUI from your record once you’re convicted?

These are common questions and concerns when facing a DUI in New Jersey.

The good news? Unlike 48 other states, New Jersey does not consider a DUI a criminal offense. Instead, New Jersey treats DUI and DWI charges as traffic offenses.

The bad news? Because DUI is not considered a crime, there is nothing to expunge or clear from your record. Instead, the DUI charge appears on your NJ Driver History Abstract – otherwise known as your driving record. And it stays there forever.

The best chance you have to prevent a DUI from appearing on your NJ driver’s record forever is to fight the charge before it turns into a conviction. Just because a DUI is not a crime in NJ does not mean you should just accept the charges and plead guilty. A strong legal defense can lessen the charges or stop them from ever going on your record at all.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in New Jersey?

A DUI cannot be expunged in New Jersey because it is a traffic offense, not a crime. Only certain crimes can be expunged from criminal records under New Jersey state law.

The good part about a DUI being a traffic offense Is that you don’t have to face having a misdemeanor or felony on your criminal record. The bad part is that your DUI will stay on your New Jersey driving record indefinitely. And that can have serious consequences on your life.

Unfortunately, a New Jersey DUI or DWI conviction will stay on your NJ driving record for the rest of your life. Expunging that record is simply not an option. There is nothing that you or any lawyer can do to remove your DUI conviction from your record.

Like in other states, if you get a second or third DUI in New Jersey, you’ll end up facing more severe penalties and fines with each additional charge. However, the state does have a 10-year step-down rule. If you go 10 years without getting another DUI or DWI, a future DUI charge will be “stepped down”. This is true unless you have 4 or more offenses at which point the step down rule no longer applies. 

Read more about New Jersey DUI penalties here.

Because a DUI is so permanent in New Jersey, it’s important to face DUI charges with a strong defense before the conviction ends up on your record forever. Despite what the police or the prosecution may say, the evidence against you may not actually be that convincing. Parts of your case could have been mishandled. The officer may not have carried out your sobriety test properly. Depending on the facts, your defense could be enough to get your case dismissed.

Will a DUI in New Jersey Show Up on a Background Check?

The last thing you want is to miss out on opportunities because a DUI appears on your record in a background check. Because DUIs are not crimes in New Jersey, they do not get reported to any criminal databases such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

As a result, NJ DUI convictions will not appear in a criminal background check.

In addition, if anyone asks whether you’ve ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, a New Jersey DUI is not a crime. So if you have no other criminal convictions on your record, you can truthfully answer no even if you have a New Jersey DUI on your driving record.

Can a DUI Affect Your Career or Employment in NJ?

Many professions such as doctors, nurses, teachers, pilots, and lawyers have standards of conduct set by licensing boards. In these cases, you may be required to report certain convictions to the board. Depending on the rules of conduct, you may face suspension or even lose your license. This can have serious effects on your career.

If your licensing board requires you to report any criminal convictions, this does not include New Jersey DUIs because they are not crimes. But some licensing boards have reporting requirements specifically for alcohol-related offenses. In these cases, even though a DUI is not a crime in New Jersey, you may still have to report it to your professional board.

Depending on your job, you may have to answer the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a serious traffic offense?” A New Jersey DUI would qualify as a yes.

Can a DUI Be Dismissed in New Jersey?

Yes. Depending on the facts of your case, a good lawyer can help you get your DUI dismissed by pointing out weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. Even if your case cannot be dismissed, you may be able to plead down to a lesser traffic charge.

If you want to have any chance of dismissing your DUI, you must talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Once the conviction goes on your NJ driving record, you can no longer dismiss it or get it expunged. You must fight the charges before your case results in a conviction.

Common DUI defense strategies include:

  • Objecting to test results because they were handled improperly
  • Providing witness testimony that goes against the arresting officer’s report
  • Arguing for dismissal because of legal missteps in carrying out your rights
  • Proving that there was never any probable cause for your traffic stop

At The Kugel Law Firm, our passionate team of lawyers will look into every detail of your case and use every defense strategy at our disposal to protect your record and your future. Click here to book your no-cost strategy session with our experienced New Jersey DUI attorneys now.