Business Risk in New Jersey: What if You’re Convicted of DWI?

There are many consequences for driving under the influence or driving while impaired. Convicted parties often face fines, jail time, rehabilitation, and impound fees. In addition to providing a short-term burden on a convicted person, these ramifications can negatively affect one’s professional life in several ways.

dui impound

Loss of Freedom and Time

A conviction for driving under the influence may result in incarceration for a brief period. In business, time is money. Workers and managers who are inexplicably absent for more than a couple of days will be terminated. In a difficult economy where underemployment is an even greater threat than unemployment, finding a new job to replace the old one may be impossible. This can result in a prolonged loss of income.

This problem is of particular concern for small business owners. Without a reliable and trustworthy staff to keep the business operational, the company is likely to lose a large amount of money as customers go elsewhere and vendors demand payment. Many small businesses are sole proprietorships, where the owner is the sole employee. In such circumstances, a jail sentence can result in significant economic harm.

Fines, Fees, and Surcharges

Individuals convicted of driving under the influence in New Jersey are fined within specified statutory ranges depending upon intoxication levels and whether a conviction is one’s first offense. These fines range from $250 to $1,000, which may not sound like much. However, the initial fines are only a slight portion of the overall picture. New Jersey also authorizes an annual insurance surcharge, and according to sources at the Evan Levow lawyers group, “they will surcharge you thousands of dollars over 3 years” for being convicted of driving under the influence for the first or second time. Motorists convicted a third or more time will face a $1,500 annual surcharge. Alcohol treatment programs are also a common feature of convictions for driving under the influence, as are various smaller fines assessed by the court.

Small business owners do not always have thousands of dollars in spare funds lying around to hand to the government. The fines stemming from a conviction for driving under the influence can significantly impact their operations, as fines result in a direct loss of available investment capital. In addition to losing the value of the investment capital, business owners also lose the financial leverage that comes with that capital; reducing the amount of collateral or reducing the amount available to make a down payment on a vital asset can increase the costs of financing the asset.

In some situations, it may impede the owner’s ability to finance an asset at all. Financing new assets such as machinery or vehicles is always easier with a larger down payment. If the owner must delay or forego a new investment altogether as a result of a brief loss in capital, he or she will experience a reduction in long-term productivity and income.

Reduction in Mobility

License suspensions are a common feature of convictions for driving under the influence. In most states, persons convicted of driving under the influence may obtain a hardship license to drive to work and other specified locations. Unfortunately, New Jersey is not one of those states. Persons convicted of driving under the influence in New Jersey are not eligible for a hardship license

As a result, a person convicted of driving while intoxicated must make arrangements to get to work reliably if they expect to keep their jobs. Being forced into an office carpool because your license was suspended will not endear you to your coworkers. Additionally, a suspended license is likely to result in instant termination from any job that requires any driving or heavy equipment operation. In addition to being unable to fulfill basic duties at work, a suspension may result in termination for liability reasons.

Convictions for driving under the influence pose other challenges as well. Individuals convicted of crimes may lose their security clearances, felons may be unlikely to obtain quality jobs and well-known individuals may see their standing in the community reduced. Businesses must routinely make investments in new personnel and equipment with the expectation of future gains. If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you should invest in a top-quality defense attorney with experience in handling such cases. Such an investment may not result in a net gain, but it may help prevent a substantial loss.

Ann Bailey reports on these conditions for any small business owner with an alcohol related arrest in New Jersey. The Evan Levow lawyers group is dedicated to vigorously defending any client’s rights and interests after being charged in a DWI in any part of NJ, regardless of the incident circumstances.

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Ann Bailey is an artist and former TV journalist, and currently contributes articles in the arts, business and legal fields.

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