What Happens when You are Charged with Driving with a Suspended License after DWI Conviction in Burlington County and New Jersey
If you plead guilty, or are convicted of, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Driving under the Influence of Drugs, or Breath Test Refusal in New Jersey, it is very likely that your driver’s license is going to be suspended. But what happens if you continue to drive despite the fact that you no longer have a valid license? Since the law states that you must have a license in order to operate a motor vehicle in NJ, you can expect to be charged with another offense. Moreover, because drunk driving violations are taken very seriously by law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges, you are likely to face specific charges for Driving While Suspended for DWI, and those charges carry enhanced penalties that can include further license suspension, heavy fines, and even jail time. Beyond that, these penalties would be in addition to any penalties imposed for the original DWI offense.
To learn more about charges for Driving While Suspended for DWI in New Jersey, keep reading.
Charges for Driving with a License Suspended for a DWI Offense in New Jersey
The charges and penalties for driving with a license suspended for a DWI offense are addressed by N.J.S.A. 39:3-40(f)(2) (for traffic offenses) and N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26 (for criminal offenses). A charge for Driving While Suspended for DWI is unique compared to typical Driving While Suspended charges because courts are able to impose much tougher penalties when the license suspension stemmed from an operating a motor vehicle while impaired offense such as DWI, DUI, or refusing a breath test.
The reality is that even if you only drove once while your license was suspended and were unlucky enough to be pulled over by police that one time, it won’t matter to law enforcement or prosecutors. You will still be charged with Driving While Suspended due to a DWI, and you will still be subject to sentencing enhancements that include possible jail time.
Elements of the Charge for Driving under DUI Suspension
The good news is that just because you’ve been charged with driving on a suspended license doesn’t mean that you are certain to be convicted. In fact, having a strong DWI defense attorney on your side can help enormously when it comes to challenging the prosecution and winning at trial. That’s because the prosecutor will need to prove three elements in order to secure a conviction in the case:
You were operating the motor vehicle. The prosecutor must show that you were the driver of the car and not just a passenger. Moreover, it may be possible to contest this element if you were found asleep behind the wheel, but the keys were not in the ignition.
You were not legally allowed to operate the vehicle because your driver’s license was suspended. This element requires the prosecution to show that you knew about your license suspension, or at least that you should have known because the prosecutor’s office and/or the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission had attempted to inform you of the suspension.
Your license was suspended because of a charge for DUI. Since a guilty plea is essentially the same as a conviction, the prosecutor may be able to show that you pleaded guilty to a DWI charge or that the judge found you guilty of driving under the influence and subsequently suspended your license.
What Are the Penalties for Driving While Suspended for DWI in NJ?
If your driver’s license has been suspended for a DWI/DUI conviction, you are not allowed to drive under any circumstances. Failure to obey this clear-cut traffic law, and failure to abide by the terms of your license suspension, could result in harsh consequences. That’s because the DWI statute imposes severe penalties for Driving While Suspended for DWI. Some of those penalties include the following:
Imprisonment: The most significant punishment that can be imposed against someone convicted of Driving While Suspended for DWI is jail time. Even a first-time offender may be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail, while repeat offenders are subject to a mandatory minimum jail sentence. Additionally, any jail sentence must be served on consecutive days, which means that there will be no opportunity for you to serve your sentence on weekends and then leave during the week to work at your job.
Fines: In addition to facing jail time for a Driving While Suspended charge, you are also likely to be subject to substantial monetary fines. The monetary penalties that may be imposed by the judge in your case can range from $1,000 to $1,500, depending on whether this is your first offense or a subsequent offense.
License Suspension: By definition, your driver’s license is already suspended if you’ve been charged with Driving While Suspended for DWI. That’s why a conviction on this charge carries an extended license suspension period that can range from an additional year to another 30 months, depending on how many prior offenses you have.
Registration Revocation: Your driver’s license isn’t the only thing that will be suspended if you are convicted or plead guilty to Driving While Suspended for DWI charges. That’s because the court will also order the revocation of all your motor vehicle registration certificates for as long as your license remains suspended.
Will You Go to Jail for Operating a Vehicle during a DWI Suspension Period?
The most important thing to understand about the penalties for Driving While Suspended for DWI is that jail time is a very real possibility. As with most of the penalties for this offense, both the likelihood and scope of any jail sentence being imposed will depend in large part on whether this is the first time you’ve been charged with driving while your license was suspended because of a DWI. The range of penalties set forth by the statute vary, with first offenses resulting in the most lenient punishments and subsequent offenses resulting in more severe punishments:
First Offense: A first offense for Driving While Suspended for DWI is typically classified as a traffic offense and carries the possibility of between 10 and 90 days in the local county jail.
Second Offense: By contrast, a second offense can be classified as a fourth degree indictable offense. The distinction between a criminal offense and a traffic offense is critical, since it means that a second offense for Driving While Suspended for DWI comes with a mandatory minimum term of incarceration of 180 days in jail with no possibility for early release on parole. Beyond that, the judge also has the option to sentence you to substantially more time in jail.
Third Offense: A third or subsequent offense for Driving While Suspended for DWI also requires a mandatory minimum sentence to significant jail time. Moreover, the judge can also sentence you to additional time in jail, depending on the circumstances of the case. If the prosecution and the judge view your repeat offenses as an indication of the danger you pose to the public by continuing to drive even when your license is suspended or revoked, you may receive a particularly harsh penalty that includes a lengthy jail sentence.
You’re not Alone – Contact our Evesham Township Law Office Today
If you have been charged with driving while your license was suspended for DUI, or any other traffic or criminal offense in Burlington County, do not hesitate to contact us 24/7 at (609) 850-8284 or by messaging us for a free consultation with a seasoned criminal and DWI defense lawyer. When you need knowledge and skilled defense on your side, we can help.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. We have four office locations conveniently located in Jersey City, Edison, Middletown, Cranford, Burlington, and Hamilton. All major credit cards are accepted.
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