Many New Jersey drivers fear the possibility of having a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge on their record. But what about the millions of Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, Marylanders, Delawareans, and other visitors that come the Jersey Shore and Atlantic City every year? If you are an out-of-state resident who gets charged with DWI in Atlantic City, what happens?
The Atlantic City DWI defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain what happens if you are charged with drunk driving in New Jersey, and what happens to your license in your home state. If you or a loved one was charged with a DWI or any other crime in South Jersey, call our attorneys today for a free consultation on your case.
New Jersey DWI Laws for Out of State Drivers
First, it is important to understand New Jersey’s DWI laws and their punishments. The first thing to note is that New Jersey calls the crime of drunk driving “driving while intoxicated,” or DWI. Much like Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania’s “driving under the influence” (DUI) or New York’s “driving while ability impaired” (DWAI), there are multiple levels of DWI in New Jersey.
The first DWI offense under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 covers any driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving with a BAC of .08% or higher. This includes driving with a BAC over or under the “legal limit” of .08%. The “legal limit” of .08% stands as the cutoff where you automatically count as being too drunk to drive. Still, if you are too drunk to drive, even with a BAC under .08%, you can still be arrested and charged.
New Jersey only has one more tier of DWI offense, for a BAC of .10% or higher. Understanding BAC is important in understanding these tiers. BAC stands for “blood alcohol concentration,” and measures the amount of alcohol in your system. More alcohol means more impairment, and more dangerous driving. New Jersey’s higher tier of .10% is lower than the highest tiers in some of the surrounding states, meaning DWI laws are stricter. (PA is .16%, NY is .18%, MD and DE each has one tier of .08%.)
The punishments for New Jersey DWI offenses increase for repeat offenders. For any offense, you face court costs and surcharges, mandatory drivers’ education, the possibility of an ignition interlock device, court-ordered supervision, fines, license suspensions, and even jail time. For a first offense of lower tier DWI, you can face $250 to $400 in fines, 30 days in jail, and a three-month license suspension. For a first offense with a BAC of .10% or higher, the fine is $300 to $500, you can face up to 30 days in jail, and your license is suspended for seven months to one year.
For a second offense of any kind, the fine is increased between $500 and $1,000; imprisonment of 48 hours is required, up to 90 days; and your license is suspended for two years. For a third or further offense, you face a $1,000 fine, at least 180 days in jail, and a 10-year license suspension.
Does a DUI in One State Transfer to Another?
If you do not live in New Jersey or have an out-of-state drivers’ license, you can still face these punishments. First, you will have to face the charges in the local courthouse where you were charged. That means that if you were charged in Atlantic City, you must fight the charges in Atlantic City, not your home state or a convenient courthouse. This means you will need a New Jersey attorney to handle your case. You can also face any jail time or fines in New Jersey.
You face suspended driving privileges in New Jersey regardless of what state issued your drivers’ license. Even if you have a PA, NY, MD, or DE drivers’ license, you will not be allowed to drive in New Jersey during the suspension period. New Jersey has the power to control who drives within its borders, whether they have a Jersey license or not.
Your home state may also “count” the New Jersey suspension as their own suspension. The laws of the surrounding states recognize DUI/DWI charges from other states and will suspend your home license based on these charges. Under the laws of your home state, you may be required to report your New Jersey DWI charges or conviction to your state’s equivalent of the motor vehicle commission (MVC), such as the “department of motor vehicles” (“motor vehicle administration” in Maryland) or the department of transportation.
Because each state has its own rules for drunk driving offenses, a New Jersey conviction may count differently in your home state. Especially where BAC levels are concerned, a NJ conviction may count as a lower or higher tier of offense in your home state, yielding different punishments. For instance, a BAC of .10% counts as an intermediate tier offense in Pennsylvania (between .10% and .16%), but still counts as a lower tier offense in New York (between .08% and .18%). Talk to an attorney in your home state to understand how your New Jersey case will affect your driving privileges and repeat offender rules in your home state.
New Jersey DWI Attorney
If you have been charged with a DWI in New Jersey, you will need a New Jersey DWI defense attorney to handle your case. For a free consultation with experienced DWI attorneys, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Our New Jersey traffic ticket attorneys for out of state drivers may be able to take your case, even if you live out of state, and get your charges dropped or reduced. Call (609) 616-4956 today for a free consultation on your case.