How to Beat a Commercial DWI in New Jersey

The consequences of a DWI in New Jersey are harsh enough, but if you have a career as a commercial driver a DWI can severely jeopardize your future. To make matters worse, new laws state that if you receive a DWI while driving a noncommercial vehicle, you can have your commercial driver’s license (CDL) suspended or revoked.

Commercial drivers are subject to stricter laws and harsher penalties when it comes to DWI’s. Considering their jobs are based on driving, a DWI can leave them unemployed and out of luck. In both commercial and noncommercial vehicles, it takes a BAC of only 0.04% to charge a CDL driver with a DWI as opposed to 0.08% for noncommercial drivers. This is in accordance to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act, a law that affects CDL drivers whether they’re hard at work or driving personal vehicles.

The First Offense for a Commercial Driver

A first DWI offense for a commercial driver will result in a 1 year suspension of their CDL. If you are transporting hazardous materials, this suspension increases to 3 years. That’s potentially 1 to 3 years of being unemployed. Not only that, but any penalties placed on your while driving a commercial vehicle are given alongside the penalties of a standard DWI. First time commercial offenders can expect to face:

  • Suspension of basic driver’s license of 3 months
  • Up to $700 in fines
  • $3000 surcharge to the State over a 3 year period
  • $3000 surcharge from your insurance company
  • Possibly 1 month in prison
  • 12 hours attending an Intoxicated Driving Program (IDP) course

If your BAC was 0.10% or higher at the time of the arrest, some penalties increase including:

  • Suspension of basic driver’s license of 7 months
  • Up to $800 in fines

If your BAC was above 0.15% the state will install an interlock device on any car you own for between 6 months and a year.

The Second Offense for a Commercial Driver

If you are charged with a second DWI as a commercial driver, the state will revoke your CDL for life, instantly ending your career. Along with the loss of your CDL, you will also face:

  • Suspension of basic driver’s license of 2 years
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • $3000 surcharge to the State over a 3 year period
  • At least $3000 surcharge from your insurance company
  • 90 days in jail
  • 48 hours in an IDP course
  • 30 days of community service
  • Installation of interlock device in your personal car for 1 to 3 years

The Third Offense for a Commercial Driver

Upon your third DWI, the penalties increase severely and include:

  • Suspension of basic driver’s license of 10 years
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • $4500 surcharge to the State over 3 year period
  • $3000 surcharge from your insurance company
  • 180 of mandatory jail time
  • 12-48 hours in an IDP course
  • Installation of interlock device in your personal car for 1 to 3 years

Although your CDL is still revoked for life, you can regain it by applying for reinstatement 10 years after you lost it.

If you’re a commercial driver and have been charged with a DWI, the risk of losing your job and even losing your freedom are to great to handle alone. A DWI charge doesn’t automatically mean a DWI conviction. Here at the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq., we have an experienced team of DWI attorneys who work aggressively to save your career, your license, and your freedom.

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