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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 has the discretion to impose 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?
There are many potential consequences to a DUI arrest in New Jersey. Fortunately, there are also several potential defenses. Our defense lawyers provide experienced and aggressive legal representation for clients facing DUI charges throughout the state. If you have been charged with DUI, 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:
However, if you are being accused of driving under the influence in a school zone or school crossing, the penalties for a first offense can 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.
Whether you took a breath test or you refused to submit to the breathalyzer, there are potentially a number of different ways our attorneys can seek to mitigate the consequences. For example, we may be able to challenge the officer’s testing procedure; or, we may be able to show that the breathalyzer used was unreliable. If you refused consent, we may be able to argue that the arresting officer failed to adequately inform you of your rights. In any case, in order to ensure that you are able to present the strongest possible defense, it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
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.
While you need to hire a lawyer quickly, it is also important that you make an informed decision about your legal representation. Asking these questions (along with any others you may have) will help you find an experienced attorney:
No lawyer can assess your case unless he or she has all of the necessary information. Your DUI lawyer should be prepared to ask numerous questions in order to determine the best defense strategy for you.
Your lawyer should be able to quickly and clearly explain what you can expect during your DUI case. He or she should also provide you with important information about common mistakes you need to avoid.
While the results of your case cannot be guaranteed, your attorney should be able to explain the penalties that are on the table and provide a reasonable assessment of the potential outcomes of your case.
With your future on the line, you need to put experience on your side. Ideally, the lawyer you choose should have years of experience handling DUI cases in New Jersey.
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 an 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.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.