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Drunk Driving: Why I Need a DWI Attorney

Why You Need a New Jersey DWI Attorney

New Jersey Statute 39:4-50 defines the traffic offense of driving while intoxicated as:

“a person who operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant's blood or permits another person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug to operate a motor vehicle owned by him or in his custody or control or permits another to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant's blood.”

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 DWI attorney working to defend you and to minimize the possible consequences imposed against you

Benefits to Retaining a DWI Attorney

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:

  • Suppression of Evidence: There are many different reasons why evidence gathered by law enforcement can be suppressed so that it cannot be used against you in court.  Perhaps the sobriety checkpoint did not adhere to guidelines established by the New Jersey Superior Court or the police did not have probable cause to arrest you.  Or, in the case of a motor vehicle stop, was there a sufficient quantum of suspicion to allow the police to stop you? Only an experienced DWI lawyer is knowledgeable on the evidence that can be suppressed and the manner to have it thrown out of court.
  • Defenses: Each New Jersey DUI case is unique based on specific facts and the possible defenses that apply vary from case to case.  For example, a person’s particular physical and medical condition may cause them to fail a field sobriety test, or the arresting and testing officer may not have followed the guidelines and procedures necessary to administer either the field sobriety tests or a chemical breath test. Only a skilled DUI defense lawyer understands which defense will result in the elimination of the charges filed against you. 

Questions Your DWI Attorney Must Ask

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:

How much alcohol had you consumed (if any) prior to your arrest?

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.

When did you have your last drink?

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.

Do you have any medical conditions?

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.

Why did the arresting officer say he or she pulled you over?

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.

What did you say to the arresting officer?

If you were lawfully arrested, anything you said to the arresting officer could be used against you in your case. Your lawyer will need to know everything you said in order to address any incriminating statements you may have provided.

Did you refuse to submit to an Alcotest?

If you refused to submit to an Alcotest, you could be facing additional charges and penalties on top of your DUI/DWI.

Additional Key Questions for Assessing Possible DUI/DWI Defenses:

Additional questions you can expect an experienced attorney to ask during your initial consultation include:

  • What were you doing in the hours prior to your arrest?
  • Was anyone else in your vehicle?
  • Were there any other witnesses to your arrest?
  • What were the weather and road conditions at the time of your arrest?
  • Whose vehicle were you driving?
  • Do you have any prior DUI/DWI arrests or convictions?
  • Did you understand everything the arresting officer told you?
  • How long after you were pulled over did you take the FSTs? The Alcotest?
  • Which FSTs did the arresting officer ask you to perform?
  • Did you request an independent BAC test?

Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A – Experienced New Jersey DWI Attorneys

There are serious consequences for a DWI conviction that include time in jail, the suspension of driving privileges and imposition of significant fines.  Plea bargaining is prohibited in DUI cases making it necessary to retain a skilled New Jersey DWI lawyer from Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. to build a defense, suppress any evidence that was wrongly obtained to be used against you and work to dismiss the case against you. 

HCK’s attorneys have specialized training in defending DWI cases. Collectively they have defended thousands of DWI cases.

Our team of DWI attorneys will also stand by you if your case proceeds to trial and will work tirelessly to minimize the consequences that are imposed in the event that you are found guilty.  Contact our office today and call 1-877-Helmer1.

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