December is one of the most popular months for travel, as family members and friends hit the roads or the skies to visit loved ones and spend the holidays together. But as you head out of state, be aware of how your holiday celebrating may affect you once you get back home. Out-of-state drunk driving charges can be tricky to navigate, especially if you are charged with having an extremely high blood alcohol content or if you were belligerent or uncooperative during the investigation.
Additionally, an out-of-state drunk driving arrest can have an impact on your New Jersey driving record, and consequentially, could cost you your state driver’s license in some cases.
Any alcohol-related traffic violation can be added to your existing New Jersey drunk driving record, if you have one. In the state, penalties for drunk driving accumulate and heighten in severity according to how many previous convictions you have on your record, so it’s important to know exactly how your out-of-state DUI charge will affect you once you get back home.
Crossing State Lines
In New Jersey, DWI penalties increase after each subsequent DWI conviction. Under the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (IDLC), a judge in New Jersey can consider an out-of-state charge as a prior conviction if the out-of-state statute that was violated is substantially similar to the New Jersey DWI law that has been broken. Generally speaking, if you have been convicted of a DWI in another state, and your blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent or greater, that charge will count as a prior conviction when the judge determines your sentence.
Each state has different terminology for drunk driving charges—in New York, drivers can be charged with “driving while intoxicated,” or DWI, and “driving while ability impaired,” or DWAI, while Pennsylvania calls an intoxicated driving charge “driving under the influence,” or DUI. No matter what it’s called, if the statutes that prohibit a driver’s specific actions behind the wheel are similar, a charge from Pennsylvania, New York or any other state can count as a prior DWI in New Jersey.
If you have been convicted of a DWI and have a previous conviction on your record, your penalties jump from those assigned to a first-time DUI in the state. If you have three DWI charges on your record, you could be facing a 10-year period of license suspension, as well as fines and jail time. Your life could be changed forever with an out-of-state conviction, depending on how it’s handled and how it reflects on your in-state record.
If you have been charged and convicted of an out-of-state drunk driving offense this holiday season, you should speak to a New Jersey DUI lawyer at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA immediately. No matter where you were convicted, it’s important to understand what impact a conviction will have on your New Jersey record and your ability to hold an NJ driver’s license. For more information, contact an HCK attorney today.