Professional Licenses and DWI in New Jersey

Drivers who operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs continue to be a leading cause of vehicle accidents that result in injuries, fatalities, and property losses. In 2017, there were an estimated 125 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in New Jersey. In addition to being dangerous, impaired drivers are subjecting themselves to the many adverse consequences that a DWI conviction brings. Being convicted of a DWI conviction may also create significant problems for you professionally.

Many people in professional occupations such as those who are doctors, nurses, and attorneys are required to obtain and retain a license from a regulatory agency. Generally, whenever someone originally applies for a license or renews their license they are subjected to a background check. It is possible that those who have been convicted of a DWI could encounter problems.

Another potential problem that a professional may encounter is if they are applying for employment with an organization. Often a standard application will contain a question that asks if you have ever been “convicted of a crime or serious traffic offense.” Those with a DWI conviction may be viewed as potentially having a problem with alcohol or drugs and as a possible liability.

Importance of Retaining Experienced Legal Counsel if Charged With DWI

If you are a licensed professional, you have likely made some significant sacrifices. You have committed a tremendous investment of time and financial resources for your education. If you are suddenly charged with a DWI, you may encounter consequences to your career and your reputation. The Lento Law Firm has been providing effective representation for those facing DUI charges in New Jersey for many years.

Understanding a DWI Offense

New Jersey law (39:4-50) defines what constitutes a charge of driving while intoxicated. This offense is when a person is operating a motor vehicle under the influence of “intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drugs.” The state adheres to a threshold or limit for alcohol that is measured as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more.

The Nursing Profession

The New Jersey Board of Nursing has many responsibilities including to take measures that ensure those in the profession are “qualified and competent to do so.” They are also involved in the significant task of overseeing the many certified homemaker-home health aides and personal care assistants that are working across the state. These HHA/PCA positions are critical because the trend has been to have individuals who need this care remain within their own home instead of more expensive institutions such as nursing facilities.

Some of the Board's policies for those licensed or certified include:

  • That they “self-report” to the board if they are unable to function in a way that supports the “public's health, safety and welfare”
  • That the Board be notified of any indictment or conviction associated with a crime
  • Individuals who apply for admission to educational programs relating to nursing are subject to background screening that includes any criminal history

It is important to note that many registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and HHA/PCAs are working in home healthcare and are traveling to a patient or resident's home. The agencies that employ these individuals may maintain vehicle liability coverage for these workers and would likely review their driving records.

Medical Doctors

The Board of Medical Examiners conducts thorough background screening on many types of healthcare professionals including physicians. The Board has each applicant screened by the State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Their guidelines do not reference DWI convictions specifically; however, they do investigate any evidence of “drug or alcohol use…likely to impair the ability to practice” in a safe manner.

Commercial Drivers

Those who operate commercial motor vehicles are subject to a lower BAC limit for alcohol when operating a motor vehicle. These individuals may face DWI charges with a BAC of .04%. Professional drivers maintain commercial driver's licenses (CDLs). If convicted of a DWI, their basic license is suspended for a period of three months to one-year and their CDL is suspended for one-year. A second DWI conviction leads to revocation of the CDL.

Penalties for a First DWI Offense

According to New Jersey's current laws, a first-time DUI offender with a BAC of between .08% and .10% is subject to the following:

  • A fine ranging from $250 to $400
  • A jail sentence of up to 30 days
  • Suspension of driving privileges for a minimum of three months
  • Participation in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for two consecutive days
  • An auto insurance surcharge of $1,000 each year for a period of three years

If the motorist has a BAC that exceeds .10% at the time, the penalties are as follows:

  • A fine ranging from $300 to $500
  • A jail sentence of up to 30 days
  • Suspension of driving privileges for a minimum of between seven months and one-year
  • Participation in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for two consecutive days
  • An auto insurance surcharge of $1,000 each year for a period of three years

Those who are determined to have a BAC of .15% are required to have an ignition interlock device installed within any vehicle that they will use. This requirement applies throughout the period of suspension and continues for between six months and one-year after driving privileges are restored. If a motorist refuses to submit to a test they face very similar penalties that include a loss of driving privileges for between seven months and one-year. A fine will be imposed of between $300 and $500.

Importance of Having a Skilled DWI Defense Attorney

Those who maintain professional licenses that are associated with their profession can ill afford a DWI conviction. This may apply to those with a teaching certification, doctors, nurses, attorneys, and more. Many of those employed in a role that manages a territory such as regional salespeople may have a company car or may regularly rent a vehicle when traveling. People with a career that requires regular operation of a motor vehicle including those who drive commercial vehicles, taxis, and buses are definitely facing adverse consequences in these instances. Retaining an experienced DWI defense attorney should be a top priority.

Legal Representation for DWI in New Jersey

Attorney Joseph D. Lento will aggressively defend those alleged to have been operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Take the first step in defending your driver's license, reputation, and potentially your livelihood, by contacting the office today for a consultation at (888) 535-3686.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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