With many people getting together with friends and family over a long four-day weekend, Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of the year for DUI arrests. Between “Drinksgiving,” “Blackout Wednesday,” and back-to-back-to-back NFL games, many people drink to excess—whether intentionally or not—at some point over the holiday.
So, if you find yourself facing a DUI after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, you are not alone. Unfortunately, this does not make your situation any easier. In New Jersey, drunk driving charges carry serious penalties, and you will need to hire an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer to help you deal with your situation.
Are You Dealing with a Thanksgiving DUI in New Jersey?
When facing a DUI charge—whether after Thanksgiving or at any other time of year—there is a lot you need to know. Here are some of the key pieces of information you need to ensure that you are making smart decisions:
1. First-Time DUI Charges Carry Up to 30 Days in Jail
Even if this is your first DUI, and even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was just barely over the legal limit, you are still facing up to 30 days in jail. While it will often be possible to avoid jail time as a first-time offender, this is not a possibility that you can ignore.
Plus, jail time is just one of several potential penalties for a Thanksgiving DUI in New Jersey. Even if you are able to avoid jail time, you could still face fines, surcharges, a driver’s license suspension, mandatory alcohol education, and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device. Combined, the financial costs of a first-time DUI can easily climb into the thousands of dollars.
2. Repeat Offenders Face Significantly Higher Penalties
If this is not your first DUI, you are facing even greater penalties. The potential jail sentence, financial costs, length of driver’s license suspension, and length of time you need to keep an ignition interlock device installed all increase for repeat offenders. As a result, regardless of whether you have a prior DUI on your record, you need to be extremely careful to avoid getting pulled over again for drunk driving while your case is pending.
3. Prosecutors Have Two Different Ways to Prove You Were Driving Drunk
Under New Jersey’s DUI statute, prosecutors have two different ways to prove you were driving drunk. While many people assume that prosecutors need to prove a high BAC and driving impairment, this is not the case. They only need to prove one or the other.
This means that while challenging the accuracy or admissibility of your BAC reading might be crucial for fighting your Thanksgiving DUI charge, it also might not be enough on its own. It also means that, even if you refused the breath test, prosecutors may still have the evidence they need to secure a DUI conviction. When you hire a New Jersey DUI lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. to represent you, your lawyer will determine all of the steps that are necessary to fight your charge.
4. Prosecutors Must Also Be Able to Prove You Were “Operating a Motor Vehicle”
Along with proving that you were either under the influence or over the legal limit, prosecutors must also be able to prove that you were “operating a motor vehicle.” In some cases, this will be fairly obvious, but in others, it won’t. For example, if the police pulled you over while you were driving, there is likely to be little question that you were operating a motor vehicle. But, if you got arrested in a parking lot or after you had already pulled over to the side of the road, you may have defenses available.
5. There Are Several Potential Defenses to DUI Charges in New Jersey
Regardless of whether you were drinking and driving during the Thanksgiving holiday, you have defenses available. At the very least, your New Jersey DUI lawyer can argue that the prosecution’s evidence doesn’t satisfy the government’s burden of proof. But, there are numerous other ways to fight DUI charges in New Jersey as well—including ways you can fight your charge even if there is no question that you were driving drunk.
6. Court-Imposed Penalties Aren’t the Only Consequences of a DUI Conviction
As we mentioned above, the penalties for DUI in New Jersey are severe. However, these are not the only consequences of a DUI conviction. From increased insurance premiums to potentially losing your job, a DUI conviction in New Jersey can have a variety of other serious consequences as well.
While you may want to spend your time enjoying the holiday season, you cannot afford to avoid your Thanksgiving DUI. If you don’t fight your charge, you will get convicted, and you will face the consequences. Crucially, your initial appearance may be scheduled just days after your arrest—so you will want to speak with a New Jersey DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
7. You Cannot Afford to Try to Handle Your DUI Case on Your Own
All of this means that you cannot afford to try to handle your DUI case on your own. While many people assume that hiring a New Jersey DUI lawyer is expensive, the reality is that your DUI case could cost you far more if you don’t have an experienced lawyer on your side. There are lots of ways an experienced lawyer can help you after a Thanksgiving DUI, and you owe it to yourself—and your loved ones—to fight your charge by all means available.
Speak with a New Jersey DUI Lawyer in Confidence
If you find yourself dealing with a Thanksgiving DUI in New Jersey, we are here to help. Our lawyers have centuries of combined experience helping New Jersey residents and visitors avoid unnecessary consequences after drunk driving arrests. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer in confidence, call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online now.