How Does a New Jersey DWI Affect Defendants from Other States?
The Non-Resident Violator Compact that requires states to report DWIs, vehicular assaults and homicides, and other serious traffic violations to states that are members of the compact. Most states are members, but even states that are not, like Tennessee, still subscribe to the Motor Vehicle Registry. The Motor Vehicle Registry is a data base that allows every state to report whether a driver’s privilege is revoked in their state. Every state checks that registry. States who are members of the compact have the option of treating the offense as if it occurred within their home state or within the reporting state. New Jersey has treated offenses as though they had occurred in New Jersey. If another state were to treat a DWI as a first offense, when, in fact, it is not, New Jersey will impose much more severe second or subsequent offense penalties.
How New Jersey deals with driving privilege revocations imposed by other states in light of amendments to New Jersey DWI penalties enacted as of December 1, 2019, remains to be seen. We are waiting to get our first cases in to see how the Motor Vehicle Commission will handle that.
Can an Officer Confiscate an Out-Of-State Driver’s License?
In New Jersey, an officer cannot confiscate an out-of-state license. New Jersey law specifically prohibits an officer or a court from taking a driver’s license issued by another state. In New Jersey, the driver retains all of their documents, including their driver’s license after an arrested. In some states, the privilege is revoked immediately, subject to reinstatement by the administrative hearing. But in New Jersey, there are no consequences until there is a conviction. The only hold that a court has on a person charged with DWI is that the person is required to appear in court when notified to do so.
Do I Have to Be Present During All DWI Proceedings If I Am from Out-of-State?
The court has discretion to require your appearance in court proceedings or to permit you to waive it by way of having an attorney. Most courts will permit a waiver, unless there is going to be a pretrial hearing involving testimony or a trial. In those cases, you would have to appear in person.
Since COVID-19, most courts have adopted a virtual platform like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or WebEx to hold sessions, which has made appearing in court a lot more convenient since there is no travel involved. Virtual court only requires you to have some competence with a computer so that you can accept the link sent by the court or your attorney. Courts are more liberal in the age of virtual appearances in permitting defendants to waive their actual appearance. But cases are being heard in person when testimony needs to be taken. I have had three official in person court appearances to date–one involving a testimony, one a plea, and another a final sentencing. Others are coming up, but they are much less frequent than they used to be.
Will a DWI in New Jersey Affect My Home State Driving Privileges?
A DWI in New Jersey can affect your home state driving privileges. Most states treat an out-of-state DWI differently. For example, in Pennsylvania, there is almost no impact at all for a first DWI conviction. In other states, you can face a greater revocation than you would in New Jersey. If you are licensed in another state, it’s always a good idea not only to hire an attorney here in New Jersey, but to also consult with an attorney from your home state. That hone state attorney can advise you of the reciprocal impact that a DWI conviction in New Jersey might have. Another thing to keep in mind is that you may receive a revocation in New Jersey, but that will not necessarily follow you to your home state until your home state’s motor vehicle commission or division of motor vehicles notifies you of their action in revoking your driving privilege. You may have rights in your home state for administrative review of that determination, and the only advice I can give is to consult a lawyer from your home state after you hire a lawyer in New Jersey to defend the charge in New Jersey.
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