New Jersey has a large tourism industry thanks to its numerous attractions and landmarks, including its museums, national parks, theme parks and boardwalks. According to the New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism, the Garden State attracted 96.6 million visitors in 2021, representing a 14% increase from visitor numbers in 2020. Reports also suggest that the state’s tourist count could bounce back to pre-pandemic levels by this year.
But more visitors also mean a more significant risk of out-of-state drivers getting into vehicle collisions. It’s also entirely possible that these drivers might’ve had too much to drink, which could get them into trouble.
So, what happens if an out-of-state driver gets a DWI charge in New Jersey?
Driver License Compact
First, it is crucial to understand how the Driver License Compact (DLC) impacts a DWI conviction. The DLC is a joint agreement across multiple U.S. states allowing them to exchange a driver’s data from their home state to the state where the driver acquired a violation. It also allows the home state to treat the offense of a driver as if it had been committed in their state of origin so that home state authorities can levy appropriate penalties.
New Jersey is a member of the DLC, which means if a visitor driver is convicted of a DWI/DUI by their home state, New Jersey will treat the driver as if they got a DWI, and vice-versa. This also means that prior DUI/DWI convictions will carry over for drivers charged in a DLC state.
Penalties that echo across DLC states
Not only do convictions carry over, but so do their accompanying penalties. DLC states will communicate any penalties levied against a driver to all other member states, such as license suspensions, revocations, and blocked renewals. For instance, a driver from New York with a suspended license is considered to have a suspended license in New Jersey.
Getting local legal aid
Because of the compact, out-of-state drivers can and will receive penalties for their DWI conviction. They should consider hiring an attorney to appeal the conviction to avoid this. Out-of-state drivers can opt to hire a local attorney to represent them in the state where the DWI occurred.