State v. Held – Interstate Compact and DWIs

A frequent question that we get from New Jersey residents is how out of a state tickets affect their New Jersey Driving Privileges. In most cases, it is very simple. A moving violation out of state is 2 points. However, the effect of a DWI conviction out of state can be more difficult to ascertain.  Under the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (“IDLC”), out of state violations are reported to the defendant’s home state, if both states are members of the compact. So, if a New Jersey driver receives a motor vehicle violation in Maryland, that violation will be reported to New Jersey. 

Another important function of the IDLC, is that an out of state DWI or DUI conviction will be treated as though it occurred in New Jersey – so long as the out of state conviction was “of a substantially similar nature” of the New Jersey law. N.J.S.A. 39:5D-4(a)(2).  New Jersey has held in past cases that the New York “driving while ability impaired” is substantially similar to New Jersey’s DWI/DUI statute, but Utah’s “alcohol-related reckless driving” is not. 

A recent appellate court decision, State v. Held,  reaffirmed the necessity for the statutes in question to be substantially similar in nature. For example, a per se violation of the DWI statute in New Jersey would mean that the driver has a Blood Alcohol level of .08% or above. If another state has a DWI statute where a per se violation is a .04% BAC or above, then the the statutes would not be substantially similar in nature. Therefore, New Jersey cannot suspend the New Jersey driver’s license of the resident.

We recently had a matter where the client was a New Jersey resident and pled guilty in New York to Driving While Impaired with a BAC of .02%. The violation of the Driving While Impaired was reported to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and he received a Proposed Suspension of his New Jersey license for 90 days. A legal brief was submitted to the Motor Vehicle Commission and a hearing requested for the Proposed Suspension. Because there was not a substantial similarity between the statutes, New Jersey cancelled the Proposed Suspension. 

If you have an out of state DWI and have received or will receive a proposed suspension of your New Jersey driving privileges for the offense, please call and schedule an appointment with us to go over your options.