Some people get arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) because they cause crashes. Others fail a breath test during a traffic stop. Either of those circumstances can lead to someone’s prosecution. Those convicted by a judge or jury, as well as those who plead guilty, face a variety of different penalties.
Yet, people often focus so much on the criminal consequences of a DWI offense that they fail to properly contemplate their career consequences. A DWI conviction can have a major chilling effect on someone’s career through a variety of different mechanisms, including the three issues noted below.
Missed work due to incarceration
Not every DWI offense automatically leads to a jail sentence, but a significant percentage of them can. A first offense could lead to 30 days in jail. Someone serving a jail sentence could miss weeks of work, which may lead to their employer firing them.
Even those who avoid jail time or serve their sentence without missing work can still lose their job because they miss too much work or start showing up late. A New Jersey judge can suspend someone’s driver’s license after a DWI conviction. Some people can regain their driving privileges quickly after installing an ignition interlock device (IID), as is the case for first-time offenders. However, others will be subject to a longer loss of driving privileges that could leave them reliant on expensive rideshare services or unpredictable public transportation that makes them late frequently enough to endanger their employment.
Zero-tolerance policies and a criminal record
Some employers have zero-tolerance policies in their employee handbooks or contracts that allow them to fire workers convicted of any type of criminal infraction. Other times, particularly if a job involves driving regularly, companies will terminate a worker after a DWI because they are incapable of performing the same job responsibilities. Even if a business does not outright fire someone after a DWI conviction, the stigma of having a criminal record may slow their career development. People who were on the fast track toward a promotion could find themselves unable to move up at the company or obtain a better job elsewhere because of their criminal record.
The best way to prevent a New Jersey DWI from damaging someone’s career involves assertively defending against pending charges. Someone who does not end up convicted won’t have to worry about criminal penalties or a criminal record. Learning more about what happens after a DWI in New Jersey may help people see the value in defending against any charges that they may be facing.