New Jersey drunk driving defendants were given something of a break when the State Legislature enacted N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a)(3). The so-called ten-year step-down provision of that statute allows a subsequent (second or third) DWI – DUI offense to be treated as a prior offense for sentencing purposes when more than ten years have elapsed between the two offenses. This was done to mitigate the otherwise harsh and draconian DWI – DUI sentencing guidelines.
In other words, if Anthony is charged with his first drunk driving offense in New Jersey on April 1, 2000 and later convicted, he will be treated as a first offender and lose his license for either 3 or7 months depending on his blood alcohol content (BAC). Nine years later, on April 1, 2009, if Anthony is caught drunk driving again, he will be treated as a second offender and lose his license for 2 years.
However, if Anthony had instead been caught on April 2, 2010 for drunk driving rather than on April 1, 2009, he would have been treated again as a first offender under the 10-year step-down rule. Similarly, if he had been caught in 2000, 2009 and then not until April 2, 2019, Anthony would be sentenced as a second offender rather than as a third.
It is important to remember that the relevant date is the date that the offense takes place, not the date of conviction. If you have been charged or convicted of a DWI-DUI in New Jersey, contact anexperienced DWI lawyer for a free consultation.