Driving while under suspension is a crime when the following is true:
1) If you have been previously convicted of driving while suspended while under a DWI suspension for the same DWI offense.
2) Or if your license was suspended because you were convicted of a second or subsequent DWI offense.
The penalty if convicted is a mandatory 180 day county jail sentence. Most courts, if not all at this point, will not allow the defendant to serve the sentence in some sort of prison alternative such as SLAP. Also, the statute calls for an additional loss of license of up to 2 years on top of the already existing suspension.
This penalty is in addition to any others you may face under the traditional traffic violation of driving while suspended under N.J.S.A. 39:3-40.
So, what can you do?
1) Get a lawyer. You may have defenses that you are not aware of. I have been representing many people charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26 and have been increasingly successful at helping them avoid the penalties that could change their lives. Most recently, I was successful in convincing the count prosecutor in a certain county to downgrade the offense to the municipal court and treat it as a traffic violation. In doing so, I was able to keep my client out of jail and avoid an entire year of additional suspension that would have been imposed if convicted of the crime.
2) Don’t ignore it. It is too important to throw in the towel. Although you may feel that there is no hope, there probably is. I was involved in an appeal recently where my client was charged with the 4th degree offense. We argued that although he was technically suspended at the timed he was pulled over, the suspension for DWI was actually up, even though he never restored because he had not completed the IDRC. The appellate court agreed with this reasoning and did not convict our client.
We are available to answer all of your questions all times of day.