If you have been researching second offense DWI penalties in New Jersey, I am sure it is clear at this point that if you are convicted as a second offender, you face a mandatory 2 year loss of license in New Jersey.
I represented a client charged with his second offense. His prior offense happened in 2004 so he was not eligible for the “10 year step-down.” His case presented some interesting issues, but the facts were not in his favor. However, when facing punishment as a second or subsequent DWI defendant, the court leaves you little choice other than to go to trial.
In this particular case, there was a strong possibility that if we went to trial and lost, the state would be asking for jail time, and I was inclined to believe the court would impose it.
That being the backdrop, I decided to petition the court that convicted him on the first occasion for post-conviction relief. Under normal circumstances, a post-conviction relief application in the DWI context will simply limit subsequent court’s ability to impose prison time, but does not vacate the conviction. However, I was able to identify issues with his plea proceeding that allowed me to argue that the conviction should be completely vacated. I argued my motion and was successful. His first conviction was vacated.
On the day that we were scheduled for trial on the second offense, I informed the court that I had obtained relief. This case had a long procedural history. I was prepared to argue a motion to suppress and go directly to trial. Since the conviction was vacated, the court conceded that the defendant would have to be sentenced as a first offender, but was still facing up to a year loss of license because of his readings and the facts of the case.
However, I was able to identify issues with the Alcotest readings, mainly procedural aspects of the administration, and the court suppressed those readings. The effect was that he no longer was a per se offender, and they court could only suspend his license for three months.
This result was outstanding and my client was ecstatic.