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Drunk Driving: Drunk Driving Overview

The New Jersey defense team at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., can help you when you face drunk-driving charges. Unlike many other states, where Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a crime, in New Jersey drunk-driving is a traffic offense. That means that you cannot have your case tried by a jury, only by a judge. It also means that in New Jersey, those charged with drunk-driving offenses are not eligible for any type of pre-trial probation or diversionary program.


Managing Partner Ron Helmer discusses the legal ramifications of a DUI in the state of New Jersey.

Many people arrested for drunk-driving refuse to submit to a breath test.  In New Jersey, you are legally required to submit to a breath test using the Alcotest machine (which used to be called the Breathalyzer) any time an officer asks you to do so. If you do not take the test when requested to do so by an officer, regardless of the reason, you will be charged with Refusal to Take Breath Tests in addition to DWI. Refusal is legally similar to drunk-driving and carries most of the same penalties.

The consequences of drunk-driving in New Jersey are amongst the harshest in the nation, especially if you have previously been convicted of DWI/DUI in New Jersey or elsewhere. A drunk-driving conviction will result in the assessment of thousands of dollars of fines, penalties, and insurance surcharges against you. Did you know that any DWI conviction will result in a loss of your ability to drive legally in New Jersey for an extended period of time?  Did you know that you could lose your New Jersey driver license for ten (10) years and be required to spend 180 days in jail if you are convicted of a third time drunk-driving offense? Did you know that if your driver license is not from New Jersey but from another state, a DWI conviction in New Jersey may be reported to your home state  and your home state may then choose to suspend your driver license based upon your New Jersey DWI conviction?  If your driver license is suspended, you may find it to be difficult or impossible to keep your job and support yourself and your family.

As a result, it is very important to have experienced drunk-driving attorneys on your side to review your matter in order to find any weaknesses in the State’s case against you. Your New Jersey drunk-driving attorneys can help you with many issues, including, but not limited to:

  • Alcotest machine errors – The device that the police used to check your blood alcohol content (BAC), the Alcotest instrument, is a very complex piece of machinery. Sometimes it does not function correctly, and the BAC results of the test may not be admissible against you in court.
  • Police procedural mistakes – There are a great number of specific procedures that the police may follow before they administer the Alcotest to you. If they do not follow the procedures exactly, the judge may not allow the results of the Alcotest to be used against you.
  • Language issues – You can be charged with Refusing to Take a Breath Test any time you are requested to take an Alcotest but do not do so. If you do not speak English, you may not have understood what the police officer was telling you to do and may have been charged with Refusal in error. If you were not given the instructions in your native language, the Refusal charge against you may be dismissed.
  • Mistaken Refusals – In order for the Alcotest to work properly, you must blow into it strongly and for a long period of time. If you have a serious medical condition which would prevent you from blowing enough air into the machine, you may have been charged with Refusal by mistake.

Please contact us to discuss how the NJ drunk driving attorneys at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., can help you.

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