People often think of DUIs or DWIs as the stupidest mistake they ever made. It can be an easy trap to fall into. A drink or two with friends turns into a few drinks too many and you tell yourself you are okay to drive. In reality, it does not take a ton of alcohol to impair your driving abilities. Even only a few drinks could put you over the legal limit and land you with a DUI or DWI charge. If you have been accused of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence (DWI/DUI) in AC, you need experienced and competent legal counsel. Our Atlantic City DUI and DWI defense lawyers are here to help.
DUIs and DWIs often come with numerous penalties that can follow you for a long time after the incident. Many drivers have their licenses suspended or must install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles to prevent them from driving drunk again. More serious consequences like heavy fines and jail time are also possible. Not only that, but each DUI you are charged with will be harsher than the last because the more DUIs you have in your record, the harsher the penalties become. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney is necessary to help you fight your charges and keep your driver’s license.
The Law Offices of John J. Zarych is here to provide that skilled counsel and aggressively represent your rights and interests. Our DWI and DUI defense attorneys in Atlantic City serve clients throughout all of South Jersey, including drivers arrested on the Garden State Parkway and the Atlantic City Expressway who are in danger of license suspension or revocation. Call our offices at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free and confidential consultation regarding your case.
Do You Need an Attorney for a DWI in Atlantic County, NJ?
The penalties for your first DUI or DWI will usually be more lenient than those for a third or fourth offense. Courts tend to show more leniency to first-time offenders who can promise their behavior will not be repeated. This feeling of low stakes combined with mercy from a judge can leave people with the misconception that DUI and DWI charges are simple and easy to handle on their own. The truth is just the opposite. A qualified lawyer will help you handle your case.
DWIs can be very complicated cases. DWI cases involve criminal penalties in addition to civil consequences and hearings. Dealing with the numerous penalties, both civil and criminal, can feel like a juggling act. While fighting your criminal charges and facing possible jail time and steep fines, you also might fight to either keep or restore your driver’s license in separate civil hearings. A skilled and experienced attorney is necessary to effectively advocate for your best interests.
An attorney can help you fight your charges and prevent penalties from being upgraded. DUIs and DWIs often rely on evidence like breathalyzer or blood tests to confirm the blood alcohol centration (BAC) of drivers. If your tests are inaccurate or were improperly administered, an attorney could help you use that information to fight your charges. Contact our New Jersey DUI and DWI lawyers for help fighting your charges.
What Are the Levels of Intoxication for the Different Levels of DWI Charges?
For any DUI or DWI offense, whether it is your first or fourth, your level of intoxication will influence the level and nature of your charges. The higher your BAC, the greater your charges will be. The law has established several different levels or tiers of intoxication at which different penalties may be assessed. Penalties can also be enhanced, even for a DWI with a low BAC, when a driver has a history of DWIs.
To be charged with a DWI, a driver often must have a BAC of at least .08%. However, drivers could still be charged with BACs of less than .08% if they are driving unsafely because of intoxication. Additionally, underage drivers who are prohibited from consuming alcohol under any circumstances may be charged with BACs lower than .08%. Similarly, people prohibited from driving with any alcohol in their system, like people recently convicted of other DWI offenses, could be charged with low BACs.
People with BACs of at least .08% but less than .10% are subject to the first level of standard DWI penalties. These penalties typically include fines, jail time, license suspensions, and ignition interlock devices. Community service or drug and alcohol treatment or counseling are also common. As a person’s BAC increases, the penalties remain the same but increase in severity.
A driver with a BAC of at least .10% but less than .15% is heavily intoxicated and will face much steeper penalties. Fines, jail time, and duration of suspension or ignition interlock installations will all increase. A driver with a BAC of .15% or higher is extremely intoxicated and will face even harsher penalties.
The consequences of most DWI charges, no matter what your BAC level is, tend to include fines, jail time, license suspensions, ignition interlock devices, community service, and drug and alcohol treatment or counseling. DWI charges usually carry some combination of these penalties, but not necessarily all of them. The exact nature of your penalties will depend on your BAC level and other factors surrounding your case. Call our Atlantic City DUI defense lawyers for help with your charges.
Consequences of DUI and DWI Charges in Atlantic City
The severity of your DUI/DWI penalties will depend on a number of factors. Penalties can range from relatively minor for first-time offenders to very serious for repeat offenders. Whether you have been charged with your first or a subsequent DUI/DWI, reach out to our Atlantic City DUI and DWI defense attorneys.
For a first-time offender whose BAC is at least .08% but under .10%, they will be required to pay a fine of no less than $250 and no more than $400. The police may also detain them for at least 12 hours but no more than 48 hours. The court also has the discretion to impose a jail term of up to 30 days. Finally, the defendant will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. This device works like a breathalyzer attached to your car. It prevents a driver from starting the vehicle if it detects any alcohol on their breath.
If a first-time offender’s BAC is at least .10% but less than .15%, the fine will be raised to at least $300 but no more than $500. Police can detain the driver for at least 12 hours but not more than 48 hours, and they may be made to serve a jail term of up to 30 days. The driver will also be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.
If the first-time offender’s BAC is .15% or higher, they may be stripped of their license to drive for at least 4 months but no longer than 6 months. They may also be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.
If you have been charged with your first DUI or DWI, please contact our Atlantic City DUI/DWI defense lawyers.
A second DUI or DWI violation will result in a fine of no less than $500 and no more than $1,000, no matter the driver’s BAC level. The driver will also be ordered to perform 30 days of community service, the terms of which are set by the court. Additionally, a driver convicted of a second DUI or DWI will spend no less than 48 hours but no more than 90 days in jail. They will also lose their driver’s license for at least 1 year but no longer than 2 years. When the driver is eligible to get their license back, they may do so at the discretion of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s Chief Administrator. For help getting your license back, call our Atlantic City DUI and DWI defense attorneys.
Third Offense and Beyond
Anyone convicted of three or more DUIs/DWIs will pay a fine of $1,000 and spend at least 180 days in jail. This jail term may be reduced by no more than 90 days based on the driver’s participation in drug or alcohol rehabilitation. The driver will also lose their driver’s license for 8 years. If the driver owns any vehicle, they will be required to install an ignition interlock device in the vehicle. Our Atlantic City DUI/DWI defense lawyers will help you through your DUI/DWI case and get back to your life.
What Happens at a DUI / DWI Stop in Atlantic City?
If law enforcement suspects you are intoxicated while driving, they may pull you over to investigate. The police usually base the stop on erratic or unusual driving. Things like swerving in between lanes, driving too fast, or driving suspiciously slowly may all cause a police officer to suspect you are intoxicated behind the wheel.
Once you have been pulled over by law enforcement, the officer may conduct a series of field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests usually include performing small physical tasks that are easy to complete for someone who is sober. However, these tasks can be difficult if you are intoxicated. Examples of field tests include walking in a straight line, touching your finger to your nose, or standing on one leg. These tests often require fine motor skills that would be impaired if you were intoxicated. Remember, field sobriety tests are not required by law in Atlantic City, and you cannot be penalized for refusal to submit to this kind of testing. Along with that, field sobriety tests are not enough to arrest someone for a DUI or DWI. The tests are usually used to provide the police officer with enough probable cause to believe you are intoxicated before using chemical testing.
Breathalyzer tests and chemical testing will give the police an accurate measurement of your BAC. This is necessary to charge you with a DUI/DWI as the penalties will be based partly upon your BAC. Submitting to a breathalyzer test after an arrest is legally required and is not optional. According to New Jersey law, all drivers consent to chemical and breathalyzer testing by virtue of driving on the roads and highways of the state. This is often referred to as implied consent. Although breathalyzer tests are technically something you cannot refuse, the police will not force you to submit to testing. However, refusal will be met with additional penalties. If you refused to submit to chemical testing, contact our Atlantic City DUI/DWI lawyers as soon as possible.
If you believe you were wrongfully stopped by the police, reach out to our Atlantic City DUI and DWI defense attorneys for assistance.
How DUI and DWI Checkpoints Work in Atlantic City
It is not uncommon for law enforcement to conduct DUI/DWI checkpoints. These checkpoints are areas along the roads or highways where the police stop any cars that pass to check for intoxicated drivers. The police do not need any probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe a driver is intoxicated to conduct the stop. If you are at the checkpoint, you might be stopped.
The key to DUI/DWI checkpoints is they cannot be arbitrary. The police might not stop every single car, but they must have some sort of system in place that prevents them from picking and choosing which cars to stop. Generally, the police might stop every other car or every third car at a checkpoint.
The police must also have a good reason for conducting DUI/DWI checkpoints in the first place. They cannot simply set up a checkpoint because they want to. The checkpoint has to be based on an actual need for the stop. For example, if there is a particular stretch of highway with an unusually high number of drunk drivers on the weekends, the police have a good reason to set up a checkpoint on that highway on a Saturday night.
In addition, the police cannot conduct surprise checkpoints. They must make it publicly known that a checkpoint will be conducted at a specific time and location on a specific date. This advanced notice can be provided to the public through the media, such as local news outlets, radio broadcasts, or newspaper advertisements. Once the checkpoint is set up, the police must also set up warning signs and lights so drivers are aware of the checkpoint as they are approaching.
Once a driver has entered a checkpoint zone, they cannot attempt to avoid or circumnavigate the checkpoint. Drivers may plan their route to avoid checkpoints if they wish, but they cannot turn around if they have already entered the checkpoint area.
If you believe your experience at a DUI/DWI checkpoint was unlawful or improper, call our Atlantic City DUI defense lawyers immediately.
Penalties for Refusing to Take a Breathalyzer Test in Atlantic City
As stated previously, breathalyzer or chemical testing is required of all drivers. However, the police will not force you to submit to testing if you refuse. Instead, refusal to submit to chemical testing will result in additional penalties.
A first-time offender who refuses to submit to chemical testing will lose their driver’s license unless they install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.
A refusal to submit to testing connected to a second DUI/DWI offense will be penalized by revoking the driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle for at least 1 year but no longer than 2 years. The driver will also be required to install an ignition interlock device in addition to losing their license.
A refusal to submit to chemical testing associated with a third offense and beyond, the driver will lose their license for 8 years. They must also install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.
Penalties for refusing to submit to chemical testing are imposed in addition to, not instead of, the penalties for the DUI/DWI itself. If you refused to submit to chemical testing and are now confronted with legal consequences, please call our Atlantic City DWI defense lawyers.
How an Atlantic City DUI Attorney Can Defend You Against Drunk Driving Charges
There are a variety of ways you can defend yourself against DUI or DWI charges in Atlantic City. You might have a defense if the police did not follow proper protocol when they stopped you for your DUI or DWI. You might also have a defense if you believe the equipment used to test you was faulty or malfunctioning. Our skilled Atlantic City DUI and DWI defense attorneys will analyze your case and determine what defense works best for you.
Challenge the Legality of the Stop
A driver cannot be stopped for a violation unless the police officer has probable cause to make the stop. We can file motions to suppress, challenging the legality of DWI stops. When successful, these motions result in the dismissal of DWI/DUI charges.
Challenge the Legality of the Administration of Breath Tests
The police may administer a breath test only if they have a reasonable belief that a driver has been driving under the influence. A successful motion to suppress will prevent the state from using the breath test findings at trial. Without the results of a breath test, the prosecution’s case against you is severely weakened.
Challenge the Use of Blood Evidence
If a skilled defense lawyer provides the appropriate notices and demands proper documentation, it can be extremely burdensome for the state to prove a DWI/DUI case based upon blood analysis. We make every legal demand and provide all proper notices. Consequently, we are successful in many DWI/DUI cases that are based upon blood tests.
Challenge the Results of the Breathalyzer Test
New Jersey uses an AlcoTest 7110 MK III. Like any other machine, it is susceptible to error. If the machine was malfunctioning or used improperly, your BAC test results might be inaccurate. Our DWI/DUI lawyers work with experts who will review the data to determine whether or not the results are accurate.
Examine Prior Convictions
If you have one or more prior DWI/DUI convictions, our lawyers will research your history to see if there were past constitutional violations that might affect your present case and minimize drunk driving penalties. If we can reduce the number of DUI/DWI convictions on your record, we may reduce your current charges.
Take the Case to Trial
If the charges are not dismissed, our lawyers are willing to try the case in court. Our willingness to try the case can be the difference between a conviction and no conviction, or between losing your license for a few months versus a few years.
How Much Does a DWI Attorney Cost in Atlantic County, NJ?
The cost of legal representation for a DUI or DWI case will vary from defendant to defendant. Fees will also vary from attorney to attorney. Numerous factors go into determining a price for legal fees, including the attorney’s experience and the complexity of your case. Generally, DWI cases tend to be more straightforward than other types of offenses and are often processed more quickly. As a result, fees for DWI cases tend to be lower than for other more complicated charges. However, you should never make assumptions about legal fees. Speak with an attorney about fees before agreeing to representation.
Legal fees are typically charged as retainer fees or contingency fees. A retainer fee is paid to the attorney at the start of representation. Exactly how much a retainer fee costs can be negotiated and is often based on the attorney’s skill level and the client’s needs. An experienced attorney working on a more complicated case will likely charge a higher retainer fee.
Retainer fees do not always cover all the expenses incurred by an attorney during representation. The remaining fees can be charged on an hourly basis or as a contingency fee. Contingency fees are paid only when a client’s case is successful. For example, a lawyer may take a percentage of the total damages won in a civil lawsuit. However, contingency fees are usually prohibited in criminal and DWI cases.
For a DUI or DWI case, you are likely going to pay either a flat rate or an hourly rate for legal representation. Flat rates that cover the entirety of a lawyer’s work are common for DWIs because these cases tend to move more quickly. Our Atlantic City DUI and DWI defense lawyers can work out a reasonable fee for help with your case.
If You Were Arrested for DWI in Atlantic City, Our Lawyers Can Help
Our Atlantic City DUI and DWI lawyers are specially prepared to serve the needs of out-of-state clients who are arrested for drunk driving in Atlantic City. We take special care to handle those cases in a way that will minimize the impact in their home states. Contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4995 for a free consultation.