There are many circumstances that will lead to an individual being charged with an indictable driving while suspended offense. One of the frequent is being charged with driving while suspended on more than one occasion when your license is suspended for DWI. You may also face this charge when you are suspended for your second or subsequent DWI offense and receive a ticket for driving during a period of revocation or suspension.
However, you may not know that you are facing this consequence until you arrive in the municipal court to answer the charge. It is usually at that time that you are told that your case is being transferred to the county for review. The p0lice officer will not hand you a criminal complaint, just a ticket.
Although defendants are supposed to be made aware of these consequences during the sentencing in connection with the DWI offense, many times courts will forget to do so. Other times people just forget.
Regardless, if your case is transferred and remains in Superior Court, a conviction will mean a mandatory 180 day jail sentence. That time must be served day for day.
I represent people facing this problem, and in many instances I am able to avoid this penalty. In some cases, I was able to retrieve court transcripts from prior DWI convictions and show that the defendant was not properly warned of this penalty. In other cases, I was able to convince the county prosecutor to remand the case to the municipal court and treat it as a traffic offense.
Interestingly enough, the Appellate Div. just held that a lawyer is not under any obligation to tell the municipal court about this potential issue. Meaning, if asked, the defendant must tell, but if not, then no. This can be helpful if the prosecutor or judge does not address the issue, but it is far from a guarantee.
Even for a first offense DWI and first offense driving while suspended you face a mandatory ten days in the county jail and an additional 2 year loss of license.
Given the amount of county jail time one faces, it really is in your best interest to contact a lawyer if you have a question about this.