The Kugel Law Firm's Blog

Is DWI a criminal offense in New Jersey?

Posted on July 14, 2023


No, the good news is that DWI is a title 39 offense found in the statute related to motor vehicles. But don’t be lulled into believing that because it isn’t a crime it isn’t a serious offense. DWI can have harsh consequences including license revocations or suspension, ignition interlock requirements, fines, classes, thousands in surcharges, and even jail of up to six months. Though it will not give you a criminal record, it can have collateral consequences to your life and livelihood such as immigration issues, professional licensing issues, increased insurance rates, commercial driver’s license consequences, as well as potential issues for things like pending divorce or custody matters.

A skilled New Jersey DWI lawyer may be able to help you protect your rights and your freedom. They may also be able to help you seek alternative avenues that could lead to the best possible outcome for your case. At The Kugel Law Firm, experienced NJ DWI attorney Rachel Kugel has years of experience helping clients with their DWI cases. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

New Jersey DWI is a Quasi-Criminal Offense

DWIs are often referred to in New Jersey as “quasi-criminal” offenses. Drivers who are charged with DWI have the same rights as defendants in criminal cases. DWI offenses are considered quasi-criminal because even though they do not go on a person’s criminal history, they can have serious penalties. DWI convictions are subject to heavy penalties as well as the forfeiture of one’s driver’s license.

DWI traffic or quasi-criminal charges can be serious. They carry prison detainment as well as fines and penalties. The information of a person’s conviction is also kept in Motor Vehicle Commission files and sent to all United States courts. The information cannot be removed by a lawyer unless it is proven that the driver is innocent and the charges are dropped. The information is kept on file and updated every time the driver does another DWI violation.

DWI attorney in NJ

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DWI in New Jersey, it is important to seek the legal advice of an experienced DWI lawyer right away. A skilled lawyer may be able to help you protect your rights and fight for your freedom. 

At The Kugel Law Firm, experienced DWI attorney Rachel Kugel has helped many clients receive a more favorable outcome for their DWI Cases. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. 

Pretrial Intervention Program or PTI

Pretrial Intervention Programs provide first-time offenders (generally a non-violent offense or misdemeanor) with the chance of rehabilitation rather than being punished for New Jersey’s drug offenses. PTI’s rehabilitative model recognizes that there can be a connection between the offense charged and the needs of an offender for rehabilitation.

Rehabilitative services that are provided early on can be reasonably expected to prevent future criminal behavior. The rehabilitative services provided by a PTI emphasize that criminal behavior can often be influenced by sociocultural, economic, and other factors.

PTI’s requirements and guidelines for admission are laid out by Rule 3:28 in the state’s Rule of Courts. PTI seeks to address personal problems that are likely to lead to criminal activity and deter any future crimes or disorderly conduct by defendants.

It is important to speak to an experienced DWI lawyer if you are facing DWI charges, especially if it is your first time. A skilled attorney may be able to help you get into the program and help you seek other avenues that can ultimately lead to a favorable outcome for your case. Contact the Kugel Law Firm today to speak with an experienced DWI lawyer in New Jersey. 

Does DUI Show Up on Background Checks

A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge in New Jersey is not considered a criminal offense but rather a traffic offense. Therefore, it does not show up on criminal background checks. Instead, the DUI charge appears on a person’s driving record, known as the NJ Driver History Abstract, and remains there indefinitely. Having a DUI on your driving record can have significant consequences, such as license suspension or revocation. It’s important to note that New Jersey does not offer an expungement process for DUI convictions, as they are not considered crimes under state law.

Although a DUI does not appear on criminal background checks, it may still have implications for certain professions that have conduct standards set by licensing boards, such as doctors, nurses, teachers, pilots, and lawyers. Depending on the rules of conduct, individuals may be required to report DUI convictions to their professional boards, which could result in license suspension or other career-related consequences. Additionally, some job applications may ask about convictions for serious traffic offenses, in which case a DUI conviction in New Jersey would need to be disclosed.

When facing a DUI charge, it is crucial to seek the assistance of a skilled New Jersey DUI lawyer. They can provide a strong defense to potentially have the charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser traffic offense. Common defense strategies may include challenging test results, presenting contradictory witness testimony, arguing for dismissal based on legal missteps, or demonstrating a lack of probable cause for the traffic stop.

Speak to an Experienced New Jersey DWI Lawyer at The Kugel Law Firm

A DWI conviction will remain on a person’s record for a long time. Employers, loan officers, and others who will need to conduct a background check on the convicted person will be able to see this record. 

If you are facing charges of driving while impaired or other drunk driving offenses in New Jersey, it is crucial that you retain an experienced NJ DWI defense lawyer. Attorney Rachel Kugel has the courtroom experience and legal knowledge to defend you against DWI charges. She will also work hard for the best results possible in your case. For a free consultation, contact us today at (973) 854-0098.

Is a DUI a Crime in New Jersey? Does it Go on Your Criminal Record?

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 driving record – otherwise known as your NJ Driver History Abstract. And it stays there forever. Additionally, having a DUI on your driving record can result in severe consequences, such as having your license suspended or even revoked.

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. Having the legal help of a New Jersey DUI lawyer may be able to help lessen the charges or stop them from ever going on your record at all.

What is the Punishment for DUI in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, DUI cases do not go to a jury trial. Despite this, the state takes drunk driving offenses seriously and imposes severe penalties on those convicted of the crime. New Jersey is committed to keeping its roads safe, and the stringent penalties for DUI offenses serve as a warning to those who may consider driving under the influence.

First-Time Offenders:

First-time DUI offenders with a BAC between 0.08% and less than 0.10% face fines between $250 and $400, a license suspension for three months, and up to thirty days in jail. They may also be required to attend the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for a minimum of 12 hours and a maximum of 48 hours.

For those with a BAC of 0.10% or higher, the consequences are more severe, including fines ranging from $300 to $500, a license suspension of seven months to one year, and up to thirty days in jail. The court may also mandate attendance at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.

Second-Time Offenders:

In New Jersey, individuals who have committed a second DUI offense can expect to face stricter penalties. This may include a two-year license suspension and fines ranging from $500 to $1000. The court may also demand 30 days of community service and jail time of 90 days. The offender must attend the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center and have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for a period of one to three years.

Third-Time Offenders:

If an individual is charged with a third DUI offense, they can expect harsher penalties. They may have their license suspended for up to 10 years and be fined $1000. In addition, the court may impose a 90-day jail sentence that must be served in an approved in-patient facility by the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. Furthermore, they may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle for a duration ranging from one to three years.

DUI Offense BAC Range Fines License Suspension Jail Time Other Penalties
First-Time 0.08% – < 0.10% $250 – $400 3 months Up to 30 days Attend Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (12-48 hours)
First-Time 0.10% or higher $300 – $500 7 months – 1 year Up to 30 days Attend Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
Second-Time Any BAC $500 – $1000 2 years 90 days Attend Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, Install Ignition Interlock Device (1-3 years), 30 days of Community Service
Third-Time Any BAC $1000 Up to 10 years 90 days Attend Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, Install Ignition Interlock Device (1-3 years), Serve Jail Sentence in approved in-patient facility

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. 

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 criminal 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.

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