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With the severe penalties for DUI convictions in New Jersey (including the possibility of a 30-day jail sentence for a first-time offense), individuals facing drunk driving charges must be extremely careful to avoid mistakes that could jeopardize their legal defense. Here is a list of 7 mistakes to avoid, prepared by the DUI defense attorneys at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.
Under New Jersey’s “implied consent” law, refusing to submit to a breath test (using the Alcotest device) can have serious consequences. If it is not too late, do not refuse the breath test, and follow these additional recommendations for dealing with the police during your DUI arrest.
Refusing the breath test will result in a charge for an implied consent violation (or DUI refusal) in addition to your DUI charge. If you are convicted of a DUI refusal, you can face a 12-month driver’s license suspension, insurance surcharges, and other penalties even if you are not convicted of DUI. Our DUI defense attorneys can handle your DUI refusal case in addition to defending you against the state’s allegations of drunk driving.
If you blow above a 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC) on the Alcotest (or above 0.04 percent if you were driving a commercial vehicle), do not assume that the results are accurate. You have the right to seek independent testing, and there are a number of ways our attorneys can challenge your Alcotest results.
Even if you did not have your BAC independently tested, our DUI defense attorneys could still have several options for challenging your Alcotest results. For example, we may show that the device had not recently been calibrated, or we may be able to argue that the test was not administered properly. In many cases, successfully challenging the Alcotest results can be enough on its own to prevent a DUI conviction.
Never assume you are guilty. New Jersey’s DUI laws are harsh, but they are also complicated, and oftentimes individuals charged with drunk driving offenses will have numerous defenses available. Additionally, even if you were driving above the legal limit, police misconduct and other mistakes could still provide defenses that allow you to avoid a conviction.
If you assume you are guilty and choose not to fight your DUI charge, you will face unnecessary long-term consequences. Not only will you be at risk for facing the maximum penalties for a DUI charge, but having a DUI on your record will negatively impact your life long after you have served your sentence. Our attorneys can determine what defenses you have available, and we can use our experience to seek to mitigate the consequences of your arrest.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make after a drunk driving arrest is to ignore your DUI charge. If you do nothing, your charge will not go away, and failing to appear in court can have consequences which include additional charges and having a warrant issued for your arrest.
If you skipped your DUI hearing, it will be important for you to promptly speak with an attorney. You could be facing serious consequences, but it may be possible to mitigate or avoid these consequences by working to correct your mistake. Our attorneys can explain what you need to know, and we can represent you in court for the remainder of your DUI case.
When facing a DUI charge, it is important to understand what is at risk. Even assuming you submitted to the Alcotest and there are no “aggravating factors” factors involved in your case, the potential penalties for a first-time offense include:
You may also be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), which is a device that most people would like to avoid, as it is typically a huge inconvenience. These, of course, are in addition to the practical (and long-term) consequences of having a DUI conviction on your official record.
To protect yourself to the fullest extent possible, you need to hire an experienced DUI defense lawyer to represent you. Facing a DUI charge is a serious (and complicated) matter, and it can have serious consequences.
This should hopefully go without saying, but you were pulled over for drunk driving, you need to make sure you do not continue to drink and drive. In addition to putting yourself and others at risk, getting another DUI charge while your case is pending can significantly enhance your potential penalties.
If you get arrested for DUI again, this is an issue that you will need to address with the help of an experienced attorney. For example, it may make sense to proactively enroll in an alcohol education program. You will need to build a separate defense to each of your DUI charges based on the specific circumstances involved in each case.
With all that is at stake, if you have been charged with DUI in New Jersey, you simply cannot afford to try your case on your own. There are numerous benefits to retaining an experienced attorney—starting with understanding the additional mistakes you need to avoid in order to protect your legal rights.
If you tried to handle your DUI case on your own initially, it is not too late to hire an attorney. But, it is important to understand that your attorney’s options may be limited. When you contact us, one of our attorneys will review your case’s current status, and we will determine what can be done to correct any mistakes that have been made.
First, you should take the time to write down everything you remember about what happened leading up to, during and after your arrest. The unique facts of your case will determine the defenses you have available; and, the more information you can provide, the better able your attorneys will be to represent you. Focus on answering questions like:
DUI offenses carry severe penalties in New Jersey, and you could be facing additional penalties if you refused to submit to the Alcotest (breathalyzer test). The penalties increase in severity for second and subsequent offenses, and “aggravating factors” like causing an accident or being arrested in a school zone can lead to increased penalties as well.
Even if you think you are guilty, you could still have several defenses available. From Constitutional violations (such as stopping you without probable cause) to using uncalibrated Alcotest devices, police mistakes and other issues can present numerous grounds for seeking a not-guilty verdict at trial.
The first court appearance after a DUI arrest in New Jersey is called an “arraignment.” Make sure you know your arraignment date, and discuss with your attorney whether you should appear or formally waive your appearance.
When choosing a DUI attorney to represent you, it is important to do your research. Look for qualifications such as:
For more information about the steps you should be taking after a DUI arrest in New Jersey, contact Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. to schedule a free confidential initial consultation. To speak with an experienced defense attorney about your case, call 1-877-435-6371 or submit your information online today.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.