Due to the severe penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in New Jersey, it is important to fight your charges by all means available. You also need to be very careful to avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your defense. So, what do you need to know to protect yourself? Find out from an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer.
5 Keys to Fighting a DUI Charge in New Jersey
While there are numerous things you need to know when facing a DUI charge in New Jersey, the most important ones can be broken down into five key areas. With this in mind, here’s what you need to know if you have been arrested for DUI:
1. Know Your Legal Rights
When facing a DUI charge, you need to know your legal rights. Not only do you need to exercise your legal rights during your DUI case; but, if the police violated your legal rights during your arrest, this could provide you with a complete defense even if you were drunk behind the wheel.
What are your legal rights in New Jersey? We’ve covered your legal rights before, during and after a DUI arrest in a previous post. To recap, some of your key legal rights include:
- The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If the police stopped you, searched your vehicle or arrested you unlawfully, a New Jersey DUI lawyer will be able to use this in your defense.
- The right to remain silent. You do not have to say anything that prosecutors could use against you. Exercising your right to remain silent is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself.
- The right to a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer promptly is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself as well. Your case will move quickly, and you will need experienced legal representation every step of the way.
- The right to a clear explanation of the breathalyzer and field sobriety test procedures. If the arresting officer did not adequately explain either of these tests and you “failed,” this could provide you with a strong defense in court.
- The right to be read your rights. If the arresting officer did not read your Miranda rights during your DUI stop, this could also provide you with a strong defense regardless of whether you had been drinking and driving.
2. Know What to Expect
There are several steps in a New Jersey DUI case, and as we mentioned above, your case will move quickly after your arrest. Your initial appearance in court could be scheduled in the next few days. You need to be prepared, and you will need to work closely with your New Jersey DUI lawyer to ensure that you are ready when the day comes.
While your initial appearance is an important step in a New Jersey DUI case, it is ultimately just one step of many. Your lawyer will need to investigate to determine what evidence is available (and what evidence is inadmissible in court), your lawyer will need to attend a pretrial status conference, and your lawyer will need to determine what motions to file prior to your trial. When your trial date arrives, you will need to be fully prepared, and you will need to know what to expect so that you do not encounter any unexpected issues that could derail your defense strategy.
3. Know Your Defenses
Speaking of your defense strategy, there are several potential defenses to DUI charges in New Jersey. When evaluating potential defenses, the most important thing to remember is that it is up to the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if you were driving drunk, if the prosecution cannot prove it, you are entitled to have your DUI charge dismissed.
So, how do you prevent the prosecution from proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? Some examples of effective defenses in New Jersey DUI cases include:
- The prosecution’s evidence is inadmissible because the police obtained the evidence in violation of your legal rights.
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading is unreliable (i.e., because the breathalyzer device was not calibrated or you have a medical condition).
- Your field sobriety test results are unreliable (i.e., because the arresting officer did not adequately explain how to pass the tests).
- There is an alternate explanation for your erratic driving behavior (i.e., you were fatigued or you had to swerve to avoid an object in the road).
- The prosecution’s evidence is simply inadequate to meet the government’s burden of proof.
4. Know the Mistakes to Avoid
If you want to get your DUI charge dismissed, you will need to be extremely careful to avoid mistakes while your case is pending. Too often, people do not take their DUI cases seriously, or they assume that they will be able to outsmart the prosecutor or the judge in court.
There are lots of mistakes you need to avoid when facing a DUI charge. Read our overview of common mistakes after a DUI arrest to learn more.
5. Know the Reasons to Hire a Lawyer
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when facing a DUI charge in New Jersey is trying to handle your case on your own. You need to make smart decisions, you need to evaluate all possible defenses, and this means that you need an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer on your side.
What if you were driving drunk? Is it still worth hiring a lawyer to represent you? Yes, absolutely. Even if the police correctly arrested you for DUI, there are still several ways an experienced lawyer will be able to help you.
Request a Confidential Consultation with a New Jersey DUI Lawyer
If you are facing a drunk driving charge in New Jersey and want to know more about getting your charge dismissed, we encourage you to contact us promptly. Call 877-435-6371 or contact us online to speak with a New Jersey DUI lawyer in confidence.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending DUI cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.