If you have recently been convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New Jersey, or if you are experiencing any of the long-term consequences that a DWI can have with regard to finding employment or managing your finances, you may be wondering what opportunities are available for challenging your DWI conviction. While DWI convictions are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey, there are other options available, and attorney Scott A. Gorman can help you understand if you may be eligible to file an appeal or seek post-conviction relief.
DWIs are Not Eligible for Expungement in New Jersey
Since a DWI is not a criminal offense, most people are surprised to learn that DWI convictions are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey. With an expungement, after a certain period of time has passed, you can have your record wiped clean without needing to challenge the validity of your conviction. Unfortunately, New Jersey’s expungement law only applies to indictable criminal offenses; and, since a DWI is considered a “traffic offense,” DWIs do not fall within the scope of New Jersey’s expungement statute.
Options for Challenging a DWI Conviction: Appeals and Post-Conviction Relief
As a result, in order to have your DWI cleared from your record, you will need to challenge the legality of your conviction in court. This can be done in one of two ways: (i) by filing an appeal, or (ii) by filing a petition for post-conviction relief.
1. Appealing Your New Jersey DWI Conviction
When you file an appeal, you are seeking to have your conviction overturned. If your appeal is successful, your DWI will never appear on your record. Because of this, the time frame for filing an appeal is limited, and, to find out if you are eligible to file an appeal, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
In New Jersey, individuals convicted of driving while intoxicated can appeal their convictions on the following grounds:
- The prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof;
- The prosecutor or judge made a legal error that could have affected the outcome of your trial;
- Your conviction was based on an invalid guilty plea;
- Your conviction was based on an inadmissible breath test result; or,
- You were deprived of a constitutional right, such as your right to a speedy trial.
2. Seeking Post-Conviction Relief for a New Jersey DWI
If it is too late to file an appeal, you may be able to file a petition for post-conviction relief. Since filing a successful petition means proving that your conviction was unlawful, a successful petition can wipe your DWI conviction from your record. Although the time frame for filing a petition for post-conviction relief is much larger than the time for filing a direct appeal, petitions that are filed outside of five years after the conviction may be time barred. Some of the grounds for seeking post-conviction relief in New Jersey include:
- The prosecution illegally withheld evidence during your trial;
- The judge imposed an illegal sentence;
- The judge imposed a sentence based upon a guilty plea that lacked a sufficient factual basis;
- You received ineffective assistance of counsel; or,
- You experienced any other “substantial denial” of your constitutional rights.
Find Out if You are Eligible to Challenge Your DWI Conviction
To find out if you are eligible to file an appeal or a petition for post-conviction relief, you can contact our Morristown law offices for a free consultation. Call (201) 489-9199 or request an appointment online to speak with Morristown DWI attorney Scott A. Gorman in confidence today.