If you got a DUI in New Jersey, you are not alone. Each year, the police make thousands of DUI arrests—including more than 1,000 arrests during the annual winter “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. You are also not alone in wondering if your DUI will ever go away. Unfortunately, it won’t. Essex County DUI lawyer Scott Gorman explains:
Why DUI Arrests Don’t Go Away in New Jersey
In New Jersey, DUI arrests do not go away. They go on your record permanently, and they are not eligible for expungement.
The reason for this is that DUI is considered a traffic offense – not a crime – under New Jersey law. Expungement is available for criminal offenses only. So, while it is possible to have crimes such as assault and shoplifting wiped from your record, this is not an option for your DUI.
Why It Matters that DUI Arrests Don’t Go Away
Since DUI is considered a traffic offense, when you get a DUI, it goes on your Driver History Abstract as opposed to your criminal record. Just like your criminal record, your Driver History Abstract is available to law enforcement, employers, landlords and other entities. As a result, having a DUI on your record matters. It can lead to enhanced penalties if you get arrested for drunk driving again, it can limit your job prospects and housing options, and it can negatively impact your life in many other ways.
The consequences of having a DUI on your Driver History Abstract include:
1. Increased Penalties for a Subsequent DUI
When you have a DUI (or multiple DUIs) on your record, the consequences of a subsequent DUI increase dramatically. For a second DUI, the potential jail sentence is up to 90 days (compared to 30 for a first-time offense), and for a third or subsequent DUI you can spend up to 180 days behind bars. Similarly, while you will only lose your driver’s license until you install an ignition interlock device for your first DUI, second DUIs carry up to a two-year driver’s license suspension and third (and subsequent) DUIs carry up to an eight-year suspension.
2. Limited Eligibility for Jobs
With a DUI on your record, you will be limited in the jobs you are eligible to obtain. Some employers will be hesitant to hire you because your DUI conviction suggests that you are reckless and unreliable. If you are interested in a job that involves driving, your DUI conviction may keep you from even getting an interview.
3. Problems with Finding Housing or Getting a Loan
The same issues that will limit your employability will also create problems in finding housing or getting a loan. Some landlords will not rent to individuals who have DUIs on their record, and most lenders will consider your DUI when deciding whether it is worth the risk of giving you a loan.
4. Consequences for Your Education
If you are in college, getting a DUI will also generally mean going through your school’s disciplinary process. While you aren’t likely to get expelled for a first-time DUI, you can face other penalties. If you get multiple DUIs during your college career, this could lead to expulsion. If you are thinking about applying for college, a DUI could prevent you from getting into some schools–so you will definitely want to speak with an Essex County DUI lawyer about your case.
5. Consequences for Your Professional License
Getting a DUI can also have a significant impact on your career if you hold a professional license. A DUI can trigger disciplinary action by your professional licensing board—which can have consequences ranging from a reprimand to permanent license revocation. Even if you are able to restore your license eventually, losing your license because of a DUI can significantly limit your job prospects going forward.
Ways to Avoid the Permanent Consequences of a DUI Conviction in New Jersey
If you are facing a DUI charge or have recently received a DUI conviction, what can you do to avoid these consequences? Since DUIs are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey, you have three main options:
- Fight Your DUI Charge – If you haven’t yet been convicted, you can fight your DUI charge. There are several different ways to fight DUI charges in New Jersey, and an experienced Essex County DUI lawyer will be able to help you explore all available options for mitigating or eliminating the consequences of your drunk driving arrest.
- Appeal Your DUI – If you have already been convicted, you may be able to challenge your DUI conviction on appeal. While the grounds for filing an appeal are limited, it is well worth seeking to have your conviction overturned if you have legal grounds to do so.
- File for Post–Conviction Relief – The third main option is to file a petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). You can file a PCR petition even if the window for filing an appeal has expired, but you must be able to point to a specific (and eligible) reason why you deserve relief from your DUI conviction.
What about negotiating a plea bargain? If you were driving under the influence, can you plead guilty to a lesser offense and avoid the consequences of having a DUI conviction on your Driver History Abstract permanently?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “No.” In New Jersey, prosecutors are barred from negotiating plea bargains in DUI cases.
But, as an alternative, it may be possible to convince prosecutors to exercise their discretion to downgrade your DUI charge—if you can prove that there is a legal justification for doing so. When facing a DUI, it is important to keep all options on the table, and you should consult with an experienced Essex County DUI lawyer to ensure that you are making informed decisions.
Request a Free Consultation with Essex County DUI Lawyer Scott Gorman
Essex County DUI lawyer Scott Gorman represents individuals who need to fight their DUI charges and convictions. To learn more about the options you have available, call 862-250-6201 or request a free consultation online today.
Published in Categories: DUI / DWI