I received an e-mail recently from a client I had represented in a DUI a couple years ago. He was a PA licensed driver, so the immediate consequences were less severe than if he had been licensed here in New Jersey. Because his license wasn't here, all the courts could do was suspend his driving privileges here, not his license. So he could not drive for a while.
PA Drivers Get a First Offense Break
On top of that, he was a first offender, and PA has a diversionary program called ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) that suspends the charges, but requires that certain court-ordered conditions are followed, such as drug and alcohol counseling, community service, restitution, etc.
Once the program is competed successfully, the original criminal charges are dismissed. My client could apply for this and avoid the harsher penalties of a DUI.
But NJ DUIs Still Cost A Lot
He did get fines and court costs that he had to pay, which are not cheap, but New Jersey also has a surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years. He had e-mailed me because New Jersey was pursuing him for payment, and he seemed to remember that the judge had said that there would not be any surcharges because he was an out of state driver.
Unfortunately, I had to tell him that he had to pay. Although suspension of an out of state license is not within the power of a NJ municipal court judge, the imposition of monetary penalties is.
In a 2001 NJ Appellate Court case, in which a PA driver challenged NJ surcharges imposed on him, the court ruled that “a non-resident driver, convicted of a violation of [drunk driving], though not licensed in New Jersey, is subject to an insurance surcharge.” Wnuck v. NJ Division of Motor Vehicles.
This was certainly not good news for my client, but a cautionary tale for anyone from out of state, driving in New Jersey, who is charged with a DUI. If you are convicted, or plead guilty, be prepared to pay all of the monetary penalties assessed by the judge in your case. You cannot escape them by going back home.
What You Should Do
If you have been charged with drunk driving in southern New Jersey, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule a free consultation. If you are looking for more information on New Jersey's drunk driving law, then download my free book, How Much Trouble Am I In? A Guide to New Jersey Drunk Driving Law.