21 Sep 23

NJ Out-of-State DWI Suspensions and NJ License Holders – FAQs Lawyers

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Last Updated on: 23rd September 2023, 05:52 am

Out-of-State DWI Suspensions and NJ License Holders – FAQs

Getting arrested for DWI or DUI is serious no matter where it happens. But for New Jersey license holders, an out-of-state drunk driving incident can lead to penalties back home as well. This raises many common questions about how DWIs can impact your NJ driver’s license and auto insurance even if the offense was in another state. Below we’ll cover some frequently asked questions on this complex issue.

Will New Jersey Suspend My License for an Out-of-State DWI?

Yes, in most cases New Jersey will suspend the license of NJ drivers convicted of DWI in other states. This happens through an interstate compact that allows states to enforce each other’s traffic violation judgments.

So even if you were arrested and convicted in another state like New York, Florida, or California, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) can still impose license suspension penalties once they are notified of the conviction. [1]

How Long Will the New Jersey Suspension Last?

The length of your NJ license suspension for an out-of-state DWI depends on your number of prior offenses and BAC level at the time of arrest. For a first offense with BAC below 0.10%, you typically face a 3-month suspension. For higher BAC levels or repeat offenses, suspensions can range from 7 months up to 10 years. [2]

In addition, your NJ driving privileges may not be restored until you install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for up to 2 years following the suspension period. This requires you to pass breath tests to prove sobriety before starting your car.

What Other New Jersey Penalties Will I Face?

On top of license suspension, the MVC will also assess a $200 restoration fee to reinstate your privileges after an out-of-state DWI. You will need to pay this fee after your suspension ends to legally drive again in New Jersey.

You may also be required to maintain SR-22 insurance coverage for 3 years from the date of conviction. And the DWI will add 2 motor vehicle points to your New Jersey driving record.

Can I Fight the New Jersey Suspension?

You can request an administrative hearing to contest the license suspension in New Jersey. Potential arguments include:

  • The out-of-state conviction process violated your rights
  • The other state’s DWI law is not substantially similar to New Jersey’s
  • There are reciprocity issues between the two states
  • Procedural errors or delays occurred

But your chances of success may be limited if the conviction remains valid in the state where it occurred. An experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer can best advise you on options.

Should I Just Wait Out the Suspension?

You can choose not to fight the license suspension and simply wait it out. But this is risky, since you cannot legally drive in New Jersey during that period. Also, the suspension will remain on your MVC record permanently and can impact your car insurance rates for years.

That’s why it’s usually wise to consult with a lawyer about challenging the suspension or taking other steps to reduce penalties.

How Will Insurance Be Affected?

In addition to DMV penalties, an out-of-state DWI conviction will likely increase your New Jersey auto insurance rates significantly. Insurers will see the offense on motor vehicle records and treat it the same as if it occurred in-state.

You may face insurance hikes of $1,500 per year or more for 3-5 years after a DWI. An attorney may be able to help you mitigate these increases by negotiating with insurers.

Should I Speak to a New Jersey Lawyer?

Yes, if you hold a New Jersey license, it’s highly advisable to speak to a NJ DWI lawyer after an out-of-state drunk driving arrest. A knowledgeable attorney can guide you on your best options under the law and represent your interests before the MVC.

Out-of-state DWIs involve complex legal issues spanning multiple jurisdictions. Don’t go it alone without the expertise of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your corner.

Can a New Jersey Lawyer Represent Me Outside the State?

In most cases, yes. New Jersey DWI attorneys are often licensed in neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania as well. They can represent you on the original criminal charges there.

Your lawyer may associate with qualified local counsel as needed. This allows you to work with a lawyer familiar with both the New Jersey licensing implications and the DWI laws of the state where you were arrested.

Should I Just Get an Out-of-State License?

You may be tempted to try applying for a driver’s license in another state to avoid New Jersey penalties. But this strategy is unlikely to work.

Under interstate compacts, the new state will see your conviction history and likely suspend your privileges as well. You will also still face insurance impacts and potentially criminal charges for attempting to evade consequences.

So getting an out-of-state license is not a reliable solution in most cases. Focus instead on fighting the DWI itself and/or reducing the penalties with the help of an attorney.

What If I Wasn’t Driving in the Other State?

If your license is from New Jersey but you were arrested for DWI in a different state where you don’t live or drive regularly, that adds more complexity. In this case, be sure to raise that point with your attorney.

There may be arguments in your favor around residency, reciprocity, and jurisdictional issues over suspending driving privileges you don’t use in that state. An experienced lawyer can advise you on the best course based on the specifics.

Should I Notify the New Jersey MVC?

You are not required to proactively notify the New Jersey MVC about an out-of-state DWI arrest or conviction. The state where the offense occurred will contact the MVC to report it.

Once notified through official channels, the MVC will send you a letter informing you of the license suspension. Consulting with a lawyer beforehand is wise, but there is no need to voluntarily contact the MVC yourself.


The bottom line is that New Jersey and other states all share data on driving offenses through nationwide databases. So you should expect even an out-of-state DWI to impact your NJ license status once a conviction occurs.

Engaging an experienced DWI lawyer is crucial to help mitigate the penalties in both the original arrest state and back home in New Jersey. Don’t wait – connect with counsel as soon as possible after any DWI arrest.