As attorneys who represent drivers accused of drunk driving in New Jersey, we are often asked what will happen if caught driving while suspended for DWI. The consequences are severe, and include a host of penalties that include additional suspension, heavy fines, and possible jail time. Effective August 1, 2012, a new statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b), makes it a 4th degree crime (i.e. a felony) to operate a vehicle while suspended for a second or subsequent DWI. This is very serious and can result in up to 18 months of jail time.
In the recent case of State v. Carrigan, a driver was suspended for multiple DWI’s prior to when the law went into effect. After the law went into effect, he was still suspended and was ticketed for driving while suspended and also charged with a felony for violating the new law. The felony was originally dismissed because the trial court felt that applying the law violated ex post facto principals. In other words, the court felt that the new law punished the driver for something that was not a felony when he actually committed the violations. But the Appellate Division disagreed and reinstated the felony charge. They held that after the law went into effect, the driver chose to drive while he was suspended. That conduct – driving – was committed after the law went into effect and it’s the conduct that the law is designed to punish.
New Jersey drivers who are presently suspended for DWI or for refusing to submit to a breath test should keep this in mind. If you are pulled over while driving and you are suspended for DWI or refusing a breath test, you very well may face a felony charge. This should be taken very seriously and you should retain counsel as soon as possible.
Remember, the police and prosecutors are aggressively prosecuting people who they think are driving while suspended. If you have any question or you or a loved one has received a ticket or criminal charge, please do not hesitate to contact us for a 100% free consultation.
Raff & Raff, LLP
Attorneys at Law
30 Church Street
Paterson, NJ 07505
Tel: (973) 742-1917
Fax: (973) 742-2454
Based in Paterson, New Jersey, Raff & Raff, LLP services clients in the communities of Bloomingdale, Clifton, Haledon, Hawthorne, Little Falls, Passaic, Paterson, Pompton Lakes, Prospect Park, Ringwood, Totowa, Wanaque, Wayne, West Milford, Woodland Park, Allendale, Alpine, Bergenfield, Bogota, Carlstadt, Cliffside Park, Closter, Cresskill, Demarest, Dumont, East Rutherford, Edgewater, Elmwood Park, Emerson, Englewood, Fair Lawn, Fort Lee, Franklin Lakes, Garfield, Glenn Rock, Hackensack, Hasbrouck Heights, Haworth, Hillsdale, Ho-Ho-Kus, Leonia, Little Ferry, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Maywood, Midland Park, Montvale, Moonachie, New Milford, North Arlington, Northvale, Norwood, Oakland, Old Tappan, Oradell, Palisades Park, Paramus, Park Ridge, Ramsey, Ridgefield, Ridgewood, River Edge, River Vale, Rochelle Park, Rockleigh, Rutherford, Saddle Brook, Saddle River, Teaneck, Tenafly, Teterboro, Waldwick, Wallington, Westwood, Wood-Ridge, Woodcliff Lake, Wyckoff, Belleville, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Orange, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn, Montclair, Newark, North Caldwell, Nutley, Roseland, Verona, Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Union City, West New York, Guttenberg, Secaucus, Kearney, Harrison, North Bergen, Weehawken, Elizabeth, Linden, Plainsfield, Rahway, Union, Scotch Plains, Clark, Cranford, Hillside, Westfield, Roselle, and surrounding areas.