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If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in New Jersey, you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of your present circumstances. For example, did you know that you are not entitled to a trial by jury? Did you know that the judge could order jail time for a first offense, and that jail time is mandatory for repeat offenders? Did you know that you could be facing thousands of dollars in fines, costs and insurance surcharges? Without the help of a New Jersey DUI lawyer, there are too many circumstances that put your freedom in jeopardy.
There are many potential consequences to a drunk driving arrest in New Jersey. Fortunately, there are also several potential defenses. Our DUI defense lawyers provide experienced and aggressive legal representation for clients facing DUI charges throughout the state. If you have been charged with DUI (or DWI), you simply cannot afford to face the judge on your own (or, worse, miss your court date). You need to take your situation seriously, and this starts with hiring serious legal representation.
In New Jersey, there is no distinction between “driving under the influence” and “driving while intoxicated.” These terms are used interchangeably, and they describe the traffic offense outlined in Section 39:4-50 of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Code. Under Section 39:4-50, it is illegal to “operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating [alcohol or drugs], or operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration [BAC] of 0.08% or more.”
As a result, even though the law only establishes one drunk-driving offense, there are actually two ways a person can be charged with DUI. First, you can be charged with DUI if you are “under the influence” of alcohol regardless of your BAC. Second, you can be charged if your BAC is 0.08 percent or above, regardless of whether the alcohol has an influence on your driving capabilities.
In addition to being charged with DUI, individuals arrested for drunk driving in New Jersey will often face charges for additional offenses such as:
The range of potential penalties for DUI is determined based upon (i) the alleged offender’s DUI history, and (ii) whether there were any aggravating factors involved in the arrest. For example, for a first-time “standard” DUI, the potential penalties include:
Learn more about the penalties for DUI in New Jersey.
New Jersey is among the states that has a law commonly known as “implied consent.” Under the state’s implied consent law, if the police stop you on suspicion of DUI, you are legally-required to submit to a breath test (the Alcotest, also commonly known as a “breathalyzer”). If you take the test as required, the prosecutor’s office can use your BAC against you in court. If you refuse to blow, you can be charged with an implied consent violation in addition to facing charges for drunk driving. Since this is a separate offense, you can be penalized for an implied consent violation even if you are not convicted of DUI. The penalties for implied consent violations are severe, and in certain respects even exceed those for a first-time DUI.
What are the potential defenses to a DUI in New Jersey? There are several; but, once again, the defenses available in your case will depend on the unique facts and circumstances involved. Some of the possible defenses to DUI and implied consent violations include:
No. In New Jersey, the crimes commonly referred to as DUI and DWI in other states are both charged as traffic offenses under the same statute, and they carry the same potential penalties.
After a DUI arrest, the single most important thing you can do is ask to speak with a lawyer. An experienced DUI lawyer will be able to advise you of your rights and help you avoid costly mistakes that could make it much harder to defend against your DUI and implied consent charges at trial.
If you have been arrested for DUI, you have several important legal and Constitutional rights. These include the right to remain silent and the right to speak with an attorney. You should assert these rights and politely refuse to answer any questions until you have legal representation.
Potentially, yes. Driver’s license suspension is a penalty for DUI and for violating New Jersey’s implied consent law.
The first major step in a New Jersey DUI case is the arraignment. This is your first court date, and you need to attend unless your attorney advises you otherwise. After your arraignment, your case will go through a number of steps before being resolved by motions or at trial.
If you have a previous DUI conviction on your record, you could be facing enhanced penalties. A second DUI within 10 years carries enhanced fines, a two-year driver’s license suspension and a jail sentence of two to 90 days. A third DUI within 10 years carries enhanced fines, a 10-year driver’s license suspension and a 180-day jail sentence (which can be reduced with inpatient treatment).
No. In New Jersey, DUIs are not eligible for expungement. However, in limited circumstances, our attorneys may be able to help you file for post-conviction relief.
If you are convicted of DUI, your insurance will be impacted. Note that the state charges a surcharge of $3,000. For a third or subsequence offense within three years, this can be increased to $4,500.
If you receive a DUI conviction and you hold a CDL, your CDL will be suspended for a year for a first-time offense; and, for a second offense, your CDL will be permanently revoked. This is the case whether or not you were operating a commercial vehicle at the time of your arrest.
While challenging the state’s evidence of intoxication is one way to defend against a DUI charge, many DUI defenses focus on procedural mistakes and other issues – and they are available regardless of whether you were drunk at the time of your arrest. With so much at stake, it is critical not to assume that you are guilty, or that you do not have any full or partial defenses available.
An individual arrested and charged with driving under the influence is not required to have an attorney appear with them in court or provide them with legal representation. In fact, because a New Jersey DUI is considered a traffic offense, the proceedings occur before a Judge, without a jury, and any individual can appear to plead guilty or to represent themselves at trial.
Because a DUI case is considered a traffic offense, many New Jersey residents believe that they can save money by representing themselves in court or hiring a general practice attorney. Unfortunately, the consequences of a DUI conviction are severe including imprisonment, the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, as well as significant fines, fees, surcharges and other obligations, such as community service, making it critical to have a New Jersey DUI defense attorney working to defend you and to minimize the possible consequences imposed against you
If suspended, New Jersey does not allow a hardship license or any ability to drive even to work). Therefore, a conviction for DWI can have a negative effect on your life and ability to work and travel for many years after the violation.
Many people do not understand the benefits to retaining a DWI defense attorney including:
When selecting a lawyer to handle your drunk driving case, you need to ask lots of questions. How much experience does the attorney have in DUI/DWI matters? Will he or she personally handle your case? What outcomes can you reasonably expect before and after trial?
But, when evaluating potential attorneys, the questions they ask can tell you a lot as well. A skilled DUI lawyer should know the questions to ask in order to quickly narrow down the issues in your case and begin formulating a strategy to secure the best possible outcome. These questions include:
While everyone’s biology is unique, an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer will be able to assess whether, based upon your alcohol consumption, your blood alcohol content (BAC) reading and the arresting officer’s interpretation of your performance on the field sobriety tests (FSTs) are likely to be accurate.
Even if you were drinking, if the effects of the alcohol should have worn off by the time you were arrested, there may be another explanation for the driving behavior that caused you to get pulled over. If you were drinking shortly before your arrest, your BAC could have risen between the time you got pulled over and the time you took the Alcotest.
Certain medical conditions can cause erratic driving behaviors and poor performance on FSTs. If you suffer from a medical condition, your condition may provide a solid defense to your DUI/DWI.
The police cannot pull you over for no reason. If the arresting officer lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over, or if he or she lacked probable cause to make an arrest, any evidence obtained following your traffic stop may be inadmissible at trial.
If you were lawfully arrested, anything you said to the arresting officer could be used against you in your case. Your New Jersey DUI defense attorney will need to know everything you said in order to address any incriminating statements you may have provided.
Additional questions you can expect an experienced attorney to ask during your initial consultation include:
At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., we have a team of attorneys whose practices are dedicated to DUI defense. We are also proud to note that attorneys John Dell’Aquilo and Michael Troso listed below are specifically trained in the Alcotest and SFSTs. Choose an attorney below to learn more about his or her experience and credentials:
To speak with a New Jersey DWI attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. about your case, please call 1-877-HELMER1 or submit your case online. You can contact us 24/7, and if we are not available immediately we will respond as soon as possible. As top defense lawyers, our DUI attorneys have offices throughout the state including: Salem, Trenton, Fort Lee, Clark, Freehold, Millville and more.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.