The Lasting Consequences Of A DWI
In this article, you will learn…
- How long a DWI conviction will remain on your record,
- What it means to get a step down, and
- The difference between a DWI and underaged drinking and driving offenses.
Does A Prior DWI Conviction More Than 10 Years Ago Count As A Previous Offense?
DWI convictions, breath test refusal convictions, and traffic offenses remain on your driving record forever. Even so, if ten years go by, you’re entitled to something called the step down.
When you’re a multiple-time offender, the court will consider all the convictions in your entire life. If ten years have gone by since your last DWI conviction, however, the court will take you down a notch and treat you as whatever you are. That is to say, if this is your second offense after ten years have passed since your first offense, they will treat it as your first offense for the purposes of punishment.
Now, if you qualify for that step down and they treat your second offense as a first offense but then you get a third offense three years later, they’re still going to treat your third offense as your third offense. They’re still going to look at all of the convictions in your life for the purposes of punishment.
Unless there is a ten-year hiatus between the last charge and your current charge, you’re going to be punished based on all of your past offenses. Everyone’s history is a little different but there are all of these little nuances that you have to take into account.
People often think that a conviction more than ten years old will be wiped off your record. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Prior DWI convictions can have lasting consequences depending on what happens to you later in life.
Will A DWI Be Expunged From Your Record If You Were A First Time Offender And It’s 10 Years Past The Date Of Conviction Or More?
No, your first offense won’t be completely expunged from your record even if more than ten years pass without any other offenses. It will always be on your record.
Even if your conviction was in the 1970s, when the law was much different, the conduct was still punishable and those offenses still count unless you can get some form of post-conviction relief.
What Is The DWI Law In Regards To Being An Under 21-Year-Old?
Underage drinking and driving is a separate offense from a DWI. It’s illegal just for you to drink when you are under the age of 21 except in very limited circumstances. You certainly can’t drive after having consumed alcohol no matter what your age. (The legal limit for underage drivers is 0.01 versus the regular limit of 0.08.)
Underage drinking is a different offense from a DWI, though. Underage DWI is considered operating a motor vehicle under the legal age to consume alcohol and having a blood alcohol content of 0.01 or higher.
It’s what we call a “per se” offense because it’s defined not by any level of being impaired or intoxicated, but by simply having alcohol in your body. Many states call them zero-tolerance laws. It’s not exactly zero tolerance, but it is pretty darn close.
If the cop looks at the license and sees that you’re under the age of 21 and they ask if you’ve had anything to drink and you say that you have, they’ve got probable cause to arrest you right there. You could be arrested for the offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the legal age to drink and having blood alcohol content on board. Probable cause is nothing more than the justification to continue the investigation by getting a breath sample.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for DUI Law, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy. For more information on DUI Law in New Jersey, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (732) 218-9090 today.
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