When most people find themselves facing drunk driving charges, their thoughts inevitably focus on the possibility of lengthy incarceration and the levying of steep fines. While it's certainly true that New Jersey's DUI laws do call for relatively harsh punishments in this regard, it's important to understand that there is more to it than these two concerns.
Indeed, those convicted of DUI also face the very real possibility of seeing their driver's license suspended for a not insubstantial amount of time. For instance, a first-time DUI conviction will result in a three-month suspension, while a conviction for a second DUI within ten years will result in a two-year suspension and a conviction for a third DUI within ten years will result in a ten-year suspension.
As eye opening as this information might be, that there are also collateral consequences that can come from a DUI conviction, including loss of a professional license, loss of standing in the community and even loss of a job.
By way of illustration, consider that just a few weeks ago, Governor Chris Christie signed a new bill mandating that those who have had their driver's license suspended in connection with a DUI conviction are now expressly banned from operating NJ transit commuter trains.
This prohibition against train operation, which also extends to those whose driver's licenses are suspended for refusing to take a breathalyzer, applies until such time as driving privileges are restored. As such, a transit engineer convicted of their second DUI in ten years could theoretically see their livelihood jeopardized for two years.
The purpose in sharing this information isn't to cause unnecessary alarm. Rather, the purpose is to underscore just how much is at stake when you've been charged with DUI, and, by extension, just how important it is to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can protect your rights and your reputation as soon as possible.