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Charged With DUI During Spring Break? Know Your Options

March 29, 2024 | Posted In Drunk Driving

State and local police come out in full force to arrest drunk drivers during spring break. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in New Jersey, it is important to know what options you have available. A DUI conviction in New Jersey is never expungable in New Jersey because only crimes, disorderly and petty disorderly offenses and ordinances are expungable but not traffic offenses. So, a DUI conviction will stay on your record forever. Although considered a traffic offense in New Jersey, other States and countries may treat it as a crime (e.g. barred from entering Canada, barred from legally owning a firearm in some States, inability to get many jobs, etc.).

Whether you live in New Jersey or are visiting from another state, ignoring your DUI could negatively impact your life for years to come. You may have a variety of defenses available, and speaking with an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer about your options is critical for making informed decisions about your next steps.

3 Options After a DUI Arrest During Spring Break in New Jersey

Broadly speaking, you have three options after a DUI arrest in New Jersey. However, as we discuss below, one of these options—pleading guilty to DUI—isn’t really an option at all. As a result, in most cases, dealing with a spring break DUI in New Jersey will involve either negotiating a plea deal or taking your DUI case to trial:

1. Pleading Guilty to DUI

Any time you get arrested for drunk driving in New Jersey, you have the option of pleading guilty to DUI. If you plead guilty, your case will be over quickly, and you won’t have to deal with the process of seeking a plea bargain or taking your case to trial.

Even so, pleading guilty is almost never the best option.

This is especially true now that New Jersey allows plea bargaining in DUI cases, as we discuss in greater detail below. If you plead guilty to DUI, you will face all of the consequences that come along with a DUI conviction under New Jersey law. Depending on the facts of your case, these consequences may include:

  • Fines, fees and surcharges
  • Increased insurance premiums for several years
  • Driver’s license suspension or revocation
  • Jail or prison time
  • Mandatory enrollment at an Intoxicated Driver’s Resource Center
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) installation
  • Professional, military or immigration consequences

As a result, while pleading guilty may allow you to avoid dealing with your spring break DUI case, you will face the consequences of your decision for years to come. Your decision will prove incredibly costly—far more costly than hiring a New Jersey DUI lawyer to fight your case—and, as a result, this almost certainly is not the option you will want to pursue. While some people assume that the judge will go easy on them if they get arrested during spring break, this is not the case. If you plead guilty, the judge will impose a sentence based on the prosecutor’s recommendation and in accordance with New Jersey law.

2. Negotiating a Plea Deal

Your second option after a DUI arrest during spring break in New Jersey is to work with your lawyer to negotiate a plea deal. While New Jersey previously prohibited plea bargaining in DUI cases, this changed in 2024. Plea bargaining in DUI cases is now permitted, and seeking a plea deal could be your best option if you don’t have grounds to fight your DUI in court.

Before you seek a plea deal, however, it is important to understand exactly what this means. When you accept a plea deal, you will still be pleading guilty—you just won’t be pleading guilty to DUI.  

While it will be possible to avoid jail time in many cases, working closely with an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer is essential for ensuring that the consequences of your arrest are no greater than necessary.

3. Fighting Your DUI in New Jersey Court

Your third option is to fight your spring break DUI in court. If you were not driving under the influence, or if you are unwilling to accept the consequences of a plea bargain and prefer to fight your DUI by all means available, then you will need to work with your lawyer to begin preparing your case for trial. There are several potential defenses to DUI charges under New Jersey law, but the defenses you can assert depend on the facts of your case. An experienced defense lawyer will be able to help you make informed decisions about your defense strategy and then execute your defense strategy on your behalf in New Jersey court.

How Do You Choose the Best Option for Your Spring Break DUI Case?

Now that you know your available options, how do you choose the best option for your spring break DUI case in New Jersey? To answer this question, you will first need to answer questions such as:

  • Were you “operating a motor vehicle” at the time of your arrest? If so, was your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit, or were you “under the influence” of alcohol or drugs?
  • Do you have grounds to challenge the reliability of your BAC reading or your “failure” of the field sobriety tests (FSTs)?
  • Did the police violate your Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights during your traffic stop or DUI arrest?
  • Does the prosecutor’s office have the evidence it needs to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? If so, is there additional evidence that calls the prosecution’s case into question?
  • What is the likelihood of avoiding a DUI conviction if you take your case to trial?

Discuss Your Options with an Experienced New Jersey DUI Lawyer in Confidence

Did you get arrested for DUI during spring break in New Jersey? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer in confidence as soon as possible, call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online now.

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Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

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