New Jersey DWI Attorney John Menzel

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 is anything not directly defined by statute; others would take the view that it is anything not required by law. Under either definition, people are surprised because they do not realize the occupational, transportation, and other consequences of a DWI conviction. One of the common questions we ask people are whether they have a commercial driver’s license [“CDL”], whether they fly an airplane as a pilot, whether they have a Coast Guard certification to pilot or captain a vessel, whether they drive a taxi or a limousine, or whether they teach driver education or motorcycle safety. These occupations that are directly affected by a DWI conviction.

For example, a CDL would be revoked for one year for a first DWI and for life if it is a second event. When we talk about life in New Jersey, we mean life, even though many states interpret “life” to mean 10 years. For certain occupations like driving a taxi or teaching driver education, State regulations disqualify the person convicted of DWI from holding those occupations. If someone is an airplane pilot or has a Coast Guard certification to pilot or captain of vessel, they have reporting requirements under FAA and Coast Guard regulations. And in some cases, it can result in them having to take certain remedial actions. In many professions like nursing, the professional board may require remedial action beyond anything required by a Court.

There are other minor or little things like being disqualified from obtaining special interest or personalized license plates. For some people, those are very important, but it is actually one of the more minor consequences. More significant are the immigration implications of a DWI conviction, such as deportation, inadmissibility, and a delay in obtaining citizenship. Also traveling to Canada can be affected by a DUI conviction. While New Jersey does not classify DWI as a crime, Canada does, and if customs officials discover a conviction, they can bar that person from entering the country. Indeed, if they can discover that DWI accusations are pending, Canadian custom officials can keep a person from entering their country.

These are the collateral consequences defined by regulations and other laws not directly part of the DWI statute in New Jersey.

It would be wise to consult a New Jersey DUI/DWI defense attorney if you are facing a drunk driving charge in Asbury Park, NJ, or anywhere else in New Jersey.

What Are Some of The Financial Consequences Associated with a DWI Conviction?

There are many collateral consequences defined but not mandated by law. For example, insurance companies can increase premiums and cancel insurance policies. If that happens, the insurer will refer the person to what we call the Assigned Risk Pool, where a person is assigned to a company for coverage at a much higher rate than would otherwise be customary for their situation–i.e., premiums two to four times the normal rate lasting for three years from the issuance of the new policy. Insurance companies will generally discover a conviction around renewal time, because that is when insurance companies tend to check motor vehicle records. Companies can also check randomly and accelerate premium increases.

Other collateral consequences are the more mundane in everyday life, such as how to get back and forth to work or school, how to get shopping done, how to get kids to their events. 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 will usually come out somewhere in-between. But one area where New Jersey drivers are more fortunate than those in about two-thirds of the other states where licenses are revoked on arrest. There are no consequences unless and until there is a conviction. This gives us a lot of lead time in which to plan for whatever outcome takes place.

Another issue people have to contend with is whether to tell their employer. I rarely give advice on whether to tell an employer 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. 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, and sexual orientation.

Another exception to the “at will” rule arises when there is a contract that modifies the general rule of at will employment or if a person belongs to a labor union or if their employer has published policies concerning DWI charges. So, I ask people to consider those questions before they decide 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 are not told. Some employers will try to work with and help the employee, deal with the situation, make accommodations on the job, while others could not care less.

Again, because employment 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.

It would be wise to consult a New Jersey DUI/DWI defense attorney if you are facing a drunk driving charge in Asbury Park, NJ, or anywhere else in New Jersey.

For more information on Collateral Consequences of DWI Conviction, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (732) 218-9090 today.

John Menzel, J.D.

Learn your options - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (732) 218-9090

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