Driving under the influence (DUI) is no laughing matter. Not only can it put the lives of you and other drivers at risk, but it can also result in serious penalties. In the state of New Jersey, if you are convicted of a DUI, you may face expensive fines, a suspended license, and prison time. However, this does not account for all the costs associated with a DUI offense. Along with hefty fines, other expenses like court costs, attorney fees, and increased insurance premiums can easily put you in a difficult financial situation. While a DUI may not appear on your credit report, all the expenses involved can do serious damage to your credit rating. If you recently have been charged with a DUI, do not hesitate to reach out to a Bergen County DWI attorney from The Law Office of Attorney Conway for more information about your case.
New Jersey state laws regarding DUI cases can have drastic consequences on your credit report. For first-time offenders, fines can range between $250 to $400 if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% – 0.10.%. BAC levels exceeding 0.10% can result in even larger fines of $300 up to $500. A DUI conviction can also result in insurance hikes that may cost $1,000 annually for three years. If you plan to fight it in court, you will need to enlist the services of a lawyer. This can put you in a greater financial hole with attorney fees that can range from $1,500 up to $6,000 on average for a misdemeanor. For repeat offenders, all the costs associated with a DUI can be far more expensive.
Even though a DUI charge will not directly appear on your credit report, paying thousands of dollars in lawyer fees, fines, and insurance will potentially cause your score to drop. If you are unable to pay off all the expenses that you accumulate, then your debts will likely get sent to a collection agency. Collections can remain on your report for seven years, which can severely harm your rating.
However, while the immediate costs of a DUI can wreak havoc on your credit score, the long-term effects can be even more devastating. Although a DUI is categorized as a misdemeanor in New Jersey, it can still show up on background checks which can substantially hinder your future job prospects. Nothing can affect your credit report more than not having any income to pay credit card bills and other debts. It is important to keep in mind that you will need strong legal representation working on your behalf to challenge any DUI charge.