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DUI Myths vs. Facts

August 3, 2023 | Posted In Drunk Driving

When you are facing a DUI charge, you need to make sure you are making informed decisions. The outcome of your case could impact your life for years to come, and if you aren’t careful, you could end up facing a variety of severe—and unnecessary—consequences.

How do you make informed decisions about your case? One of the first steps is to separate myth from reality. Keep reading to learn more from an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer.

5 New Jersey DUI Myths (and the Truth Behind Them)

Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths out there about facing DUI charges in New Jersey. If you rely on these myths, you could make mistakes that prevent you from asserting a successful defense (even if you are clearly entitled to a “Not guilty” verdict in court). Here are five common myths about New Jersey DUI cases and the truth behind them:

Myth #1: Since a DUI is a “Traffic Violation,” It Isn’t a Serious Offense

In New Jersey, a DUI is classified as a “traffic violation” instead of a crime. Since driving under the influence is not a criminal offense, facing a DUI charge in New Jersey isn’t a big deal.

The Truth: A DUI Conviction Can Change Your Life

Even though driving under the influence isn’t a crime in New Jersey, a DUI conviction can still change your life. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you can potentially face thousands of dollars in fines and surcharges, loss of driving privileges, mandatory alcohol education and installation of an ignition interlock device, and other penalties. Your DUI will also go on your record, and this can impact your ability to get into school, get a job and find housing.

Myth #2: You Won’t Go to Jail for a First-Time DUI

Since a DUI is classified as a traffic violation in New Jersey, you don’t need to worry about going to jail. While you may face other penalties, at least you will still have your freedom.

The Truth: Jail Time is a Possibility for First-Time DUI Offenders in New Jersey

First-time DUI offenders in New Jersey face up to 30 days in jail. The judge has the discretion to impose jail time if he or she believes that jail time is necessary to prevent the offender from driving drunk again in the future. This is the potential jail sentence for a standard first-time offense involving a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 to 0.10 percent. Higher BACs and other aggravating factors can increase all of the penalties that are on the table.

Myth #3: You Can Rely on a Sympathetic Jury to Save You from a Conviction

Jurors understand that people make mistakes. If you take your DUI case to court in New Jersey, the jury will be on your side, and there is a good chance that you will be able to convince the jury to rule in your favor.

The Truth: In New Jersey, You Aren’t Entitled to a Jury Trial for a DUI

In New Jersey, all DUI trials are “bench trials.” This means a judge, not a jury, hears the facts and renders a verdict. Since DUI is classified as a traffic violation in New Jersey, DUI defendants are not entitled to a jury trial. If you take your DUI case to court, you will need to convince the judge that either (i) you aren’t guilty or (ii) you don’t deserve the maximum penalties (including jail time) that can be imposed under New Jersey law.

Myth #4: If You Were Driving Drunk, Pleading Guilty Will Earn Favor with the Judge

Many people seem to think that if you know you were driving drunk, pleading guilty will earn favor with the judge. Entering a guilty plea saves the judge’s time and the court’s resources, and it shows that you are taking responsibility for your actions.

The Truth: Pleading Guilty is Almost Never the Best Option, and the Judge Won’t Go Easy on You if You Do

Pleading guilty is almost never the best option when you are facing a DUI charge in New Jersey. First of all, even if you were driving drunk, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you deserve to be convicted. From asserting your constitutional rights to challenging the validity of your BAC reading, there are several potential ways to fight a DUI charge in this scenario.

Second, if you plead guilty, the judge will not go easy on you. New Jersey judges take DUI cases very seriously, and you can expect to face a harsh sentence if you admit to driving drunk in court.

Myth #5: You Can Handle Your DUI Case on Your Own

If you are facing a DUI charge in New Jersey, you don’t need to hire a lawyer to represent you. You can handle your case on your own, and you can avoid jail time as long as you don’t admit to driving drunk.

The Truth: You Need an Experienced New Jersey DUI Lawyer on Your Side

From keeping evidence out of court to challenging the prosecution’s case against you, there are lots of ways an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer can help you. Your lawyer can also help you avoid unnecessary mistakes that will lead to unnecessary consequences. When you are facing a DUI charge, any mistakes can be costly—not only in the short term but possibly for years to come. Regardless of whether you were driving under the influence, it pays to have an experienced lawyer on your side.

Schedule a Consultation with a New Jersey DUI Lawyer Today

If you need to know more about the realities of facing a DUI charge in New Jersey, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a confidential consultation. We have offices throughout New Jersey, and our lawyers handle all types of DUI cases statewide. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., please call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online today.

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