Are Most People Surprised At The Collateral Consequences Of A DWI Conviction?
Yes. The most important part about orienting a client to their predicament is letting them know what all of the consequences are. The definition of collateral consequences is kind of muddy. Some think it’s anything not directly defined by statute; others would take the view that it’s anything not required by law. So either definition, people are surprised because they don’t realize that there are occupational consequences, transportation consequences, that sort of thing. I’ll give you an example of occupational consequences. One of the common questions we ask people are whether they have a commercial driver’s license, whether they drive a taxi or a limousine, whether they teach driver education or motorcycle safety. These are all things that under New Jersey law in the regulations, regulate occupations that are directly affected if a person gets a DUI.
For example, commercial driver’s license goes for 1 year if it’s a first event DUI. For a life; if it’s a second event. When we talk about life in New Jersey, we mean life. A lot of states talk about life being basically 10 years; in New Jersey, you lose your CDL forever. In terms of the other occupations that I mentioned, you’re just disqualified from holding those occupations. Also if someone is an airplane pilot or someone who has a coastguard certification, the pilot or captain of vessel, they have reporting requirements under those regulations, FAA and coastguard. And in some cases, it can result in them having to take certain remedial actions. There are some professions that are affected by DUI such as nursing, certainly other professions like law might be affected but not as directly as a nursing license.
There are other minor or little things like personalized license plate, you get disqualified for those. For some people, those are very important but it’s actually one of the more minor consequences. Shifting to more serious things, immigration is a big issue now because depending on ones’ citizenship, they may be facing deportation as a result of a DUI conviction. Also traveling to Canada can be affected by a DUI conviction although New Jersey doesn’t classify DUI as a crime, Canada does and if they discover a conviction, they can bar that person from entering the country. Indeed if they can discover the accusations, that can be grounds for Canadian custom officials to keep people out of their country. Those are the collateral consequences defined by regulations and other laws not directly part of the DUI statute in New Jersey.
What Are Some Of The Financial Consequences Associated With a DWI Conviction?
You’re going to certainly be looking at insurance premium increases. DUI can result in cancellation of an insurance policy. If that happens, the person is referred to what we call the Assigned Risk Pool here in New Jersey where they will be able to get covered but at a much higher rate than would otherwise be customary for their situation. Insurance premiums go up 2 to 4 times what they would normally be and that increase in premiums lasts for 3 years from when the insurance company discovers the conviction which is usually around renewal time because that’s what insurance companies tend to check motor vehicle records. Companies can also check randomly so that can result in accelerated increases but usually it’s around renewal time.
Other collateral consequences are the more mundane in everyday parts of life. How do you get back and forth to work, how do you get your shopping done, things like that, how do you get your kids to their events, getting back and forth to school, that sort of thing. These are things you have to alert people to as soon as possible so they can begin planning, for the worst case scenario. I always tell people you should plan for the worse case, hope for the best case and it’ll usually come out somewhere in-between. But one of the things that New Jersey drivers are more fortunate than those in probably about two-thirds of the other states is that there are no consequences unless and until there is a conviction. So gives us a lot of time to figure out what’s going on.
There are other issues you have to contend such as whether to tell your employer or not. And on those issues, I rarely give advice because the factors to be considered are so personal and varied from one person’s situation to another that it’s impossible for me to do anything other than raise the questions for that person to consider. As we know, most employment is considered to be at will, meaning that a person can be hired or fired for any reason or no reason at all as long as it’s not based on a prohibited discriminatory factor like race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, that sort of thing. But other than that, anything can happen unless, of course, the other exception is if there is a contract that modifies the general rule of at will employment.
It’s important if the person has employment where they’re protected by a union or if they have an individual employment contract or some other policy published by the employer dealing with what happens when one has a DUI conviction or a DUI charge rather. So I ask people to consider those questions before they make a decision whether to disclose the existence of the charge to their employer. Some employers will fire that person on the spot when this kind of information comes to light. Other employers might feel really offended or slighted if they’re not told. Some employers will try to work with and help the employee, deal with the situation, make accommodations on the job and that sort of thing and others couldn’t care less.
Again, because those relationships are so personal and varied, I tell people to keep an eye on what’s happening at the office, consider what has happened if this has happened to somebody else and make your own decision about whether to make disclosure or to keep it under wraps.
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