Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, more commonly known as DUI, is a very serious charge in the state of New Jersey that can lead to very severe penalties if you are convicted. It can be confusing and scary to be placed under arrest for DUI, and, especially if this is your first experience with the criminal justice system, you may not know who to call or what to do to protect your rights and give yourself the best chance of bringing the matter to a successful resolution. The best thing you can do as soon after you are arrested as possible is to contact an experienced Atlantic City DUI defense lawyer like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych who can help get you out of jail and begin fighting to get your charges downgraded or dismissed. Below, our lawyers discuss what qualifies as a DUI in New Jersey, when you need a lawyer, and how we can help you.
What is a DUI in New Jersey?
A DUI occurs when you are driving a vehicle in the state of New Jersey while your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or more. It can also be charged if you have a certain amount of an illegal drug in your system. This is usually proven through a mandatory breathalyzer test or a blood or urine test administered at the police station after your arrest. However, if you refuse this test, or if, for some other reason, it cannot be performed on time, you can still be convicted of a DUI based on the observations of the officer who pulled you over and any other witnesses as well as the results of the roadside sobriety tests if they were administered. Refusing to take a breathalyzer or a mandatory blood or urine test can get your charged with the separate crime of DUI test refusal, which can come with its own harsh penalties.
When Do I Need A Lawyer for My New Jersey DUI Case?
Usually, a DUI arrest occurs after an officer sees someone driving in an erratic manner or pulls them over for a traffic violation of some sort. There are also sometimes DUI checkpoints set up where all drivers are questioned, usually after a big event like a football game or on a holiday weekend. The officer will note whether you are showing signs that you are drunk, such as slurring your words or having the smell of alcohol or drugs on your breath. They will likely ask you where you have been and what you have had to drink. You do not need to answer their questions except to provide your basic information. You also are not required to comply if they ask you to take roadside sobriety tests, like standing on one leg.
If the officer believes that you are intoxicated, they will place you under arrest and take you back to the station to undergo a breathalyzer test or a mandatory blood or urine test to check for the presence of drug and alcohol in your system. As soon as you are placed under arrest, or even if the officers do no arrest you but want to interview you at the station, you or a loved one should contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. We can make sure that you are not interviewed without counsel and that you understand the potential criminal ramifications of refusing to comply with the breathalyzer.
Further, your bail hearing will occur usually within 48 hours of your arrest. It is vital that you have an experienced New Jersey bail hearing attorney represent you at this proceeding, where the judge will determine whether or not you can be released or if you must remain in jail until the matter is resolved. Typically, you will not be detained unless you have a serious criminal record or you killed someone in the course of committing the DUI. Since the virtual elimination of cash bail in NJ in 2017, the judge will decide between releasing you on your own recognizance, or releasing you with conditions such as attending mandatory counseling. Our skilled bail hearing attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych know how to make the most persuasive arguments for you to be released with no or minimal conditions, based on such factors as your criminal history, ties to the community, and the nature and severity of the alleged offense.
How Can an Attorney Help with My DUI Case after I Have Been Released?
You will also want an experienced Atlantic County attorney for a criminal arraignment, which will occur at or around the same time as your bail hearing. Your attorney is likely to advise you to plead not guilty at the arraignment while we request all the evidence and assess the strength of the state’s case. We can then work to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor for your charges to be downgraded or dismissed. For first-time offenders, a pre-trial diversion program where the charges are dismissed if you complete it successfully may be possible. In other cases, a deal could include the charges being downgraded to something less serious like reckless driving or the prosecutor recommending a lenient sentence to the judge in exchange for you entering a guilty plea. Of course, if you do not wish to take a deal or plead guilty, our skilled Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych are always ready and able to fight for your innocence in the courtroom.
If You Have Been Charged with DUI, Call Our New Jersey Defense Attorneys Right Away
If you fail to act to protect your rights and interests with counsel, a DUI arrest can lead to serious consequences including jail time, loss of license, an ignition interlock device being installed in your car, and hefty fines. The sooner you contact an experienced DUI defense attorney after you have been charged with DUI, the better chance we have of bringing your case to the most positive possible resolution. For a free consultation, call our office today at (609) 616-4956.