If you got arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) while at college in New Jersey, you need to be very careful about your next steps. Not only can a DWI conviction lead to court-imposed penalties, but it can also impact your academics—and potentially your career.
In New Jersey, a DWI stays on your record indefinitely. Unlike many other types of charges, there is no way to get it off. As a result, a DWI arrest during college can truly impact your life for decades, and to avoid unnecessary consequences, you need an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer on your side.
Protecting Yourself After a DWI Arrest at College: What To Do
With this in mind, what should you do after a DWI arrest at college in New Jersey? As soon as possible after your arrest, you should:
1. Talk to a New Jersey DWI Lawyer
Regardless of your age or the specific charge (or charges) you are facing, your first step should be to speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer. The prosecutor and judge are not going to go easy on you just because you are in college. You need to be prepared to fight your DWI case by all means available, and this starts with engaging experienced legal representation.
2. Write Down Everything You Can Remember
To prepare for your first meeting with your lawyer, you should write down everything you can remember about your arrest. What did the officer say to you? Did you understand his or her instructions? What did you say to the officer? How were the road, weather and traffic conditions? These are just a few examples of the types of details your lawyer will need to know.
3. Follow Your Lawyer’s Advice
Once you hire a New Jersey DWI lawyer, you should follow your lawyer’s advice. Your lawyer has your best interests in mind, and his or her advice is focused on helping you avoid mistakes that could lead to unnecessary consequences. If you don’t understand your lawyer’s advice, don’t hesitate to ask questions—and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions about what you should (or shouldn’t) be doing while your DWI case is pending.
4. Make Sure You Understand the Charge (or Charges) Against You
When facing a DWI case in New Jersey, it is important to make sure you understand the charge (or charges) against you. For example, are you being charged under New Jersey’s “zero tolerance” law for drivers under age 21? Or are you being charged based on impairment regardless of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC)? Are you charged with being under the influence of drugs? Are you being charged with DUI solely based on observations of the police officer, including physical tests performed on you at the stop or statements made to the officer? Are you also being charged with an open container or implied consent violation? All of these are different charges that require different defense strategies.
5. Make Sure You Understand What is At Stake
In addition to making sure you understand the charge (or charges) against you, it is also important to make sure you understand what is at stake. Getting a DWI during college can have significant and long-term consequences. The specific consequences you are facing depend on the facts of your case, and your New Jersey DWI lawyer can walk you through all of the penalties (and other consequences) that are on the table.
Protecting Yourself After a DWI Arrest at College: What Not To Do
When facing a DWI charge, knowing what to do and what not to do are equally important. If you have been arrested for DWI while at college in New Jersey, here are some of the key mistakes you need to avoid:
1. Don’t Get Caught Drinking Underage
If you have a DWI charge pending in New Jersey court, the last thing you want to do is get arrested again. If you are under 21, you shouldn’t be drinking—and you certainly don’t want to get caught drinking while you are awaiting trial for driving while intoxicated.
2. Don’t Get Another DWI
Just as you don’t want to get caught drinking underage, you don’t want to get another DWI even if you are over 21. If you get another DWI, not only will this create additional challenges for defending against your first DWI charge, but you will also face enhanced penalties as a repeat offender.
3. Don’t Ignore Your Court Date
Your DWI ticket should list the date of your first court date, which is referred to as your arraignment. Unless your lawyer recommends waiving your right to appear (and you take the steps necessary to do so), you will need to appear in court at the date and time scheduled. If you don’t, you can be charged with failure to appear, and this can lead to additional consequences as well.
4. Don’t Assume Everything Will Be Fine
Many college students who get a DWI assume that everything will be fine. They assume that everything will work out in the end and that the judge won’t impose a life-altering conviction.
These are not assumptions that you can afford to make. New Jersey judges take all DWI cases very seriously, and they will not show leniency just because you made a mistake while in college. A DWI charge could lead to disciplinary action at school as well—and you need to be prepared to protect your future by all means available.
5. Don’t Try to Handle Your Case on Your Own
Given everything you have at stake, you should not try to handle your DWI case on your own. You only get one chance to protect your future, and if you don’t take all of the steps that are necessary to defend yourself, you will almost certainly face serious consequences. An experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer can represent you in court, and your lawyer can do everything necessary to minimize the consequences of your DWI arrest.
Speak with a New Jersey DWI Lawyer in Confidence
Are you facing a DWI charge as a college student in New Jersey? If so, we strongly encourage you to contact us for more information. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your case in confidence, call 877-435-6371 or request an appointment online today.