Atlantic County DUI/DWI Defense Attorney
Atlantic County is one of the largest counties in New Jersey. If you have spent any time in Atlantic City or one of the surrounding towns, and were charged with DWI there, you were likely in Atlantic County. Driving under the influence, called “driving while intoxicated” in New Jersey, is a serious offense that can put heavy penalties on your daily life, even if you are not sent to jail.
If you are facing charges of DWI in Atlantic County, you should hire a New Jersey DUI defense lawyer. Not only is there a potential of jail time for a DWI conviction, but there are required courses, fines, and license suspensions that can negatively affect your life or your job.
What is Considered DWI in New Jersey?
In many states, the offense of drunk driving is known as DUI, or driving under the influence. New Jersey calls the offense driving while intoxicated, or DWI. Some states may differentiate between DUI and DWI, but in New Jersey, there is just the one offense of DWI.
If you are caught in New Jersey driving a motor vehicle while experiencing any of these conditions, you are committing the crime of DWI:
- Intoxication from alcohol
- Intoxication from hallucinogens, narcotics, or other drugs
- A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher
You can also be convicted of DWI if you let someone else drive your car (or a car in your custody) while they are under these effects.
Under this law, you can be convicted of DWI for either drugs or alcohol, and there are different penalties for first offenses based on drugs and based on alcohol. Additionally, while the nationwide standard of .08% BAC is present, there are elevated penalties for a first offense where your BAC is .10% or higher. For those wondering, BAC is “blood alcohol concentration,” and is a measurement of what percentage of your blood is actually alcohol, at the time.
BAC is tested in New Jersey with a breath test. Sometimes these tests or the machines used for them are called “breathalyzers,” but the actual name of the system New Jersey uses is “Alcotest.” This test is performed by having the subject blow into a tube connected to a machine. Drugs are tested with different procedures.
Some people may think it is a good idea to refuse to take a breath test in New Jersey, so that they cannot prove you were over .08% BAC. This is absolutely wrong. In New Jersey, under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2, by driving on the roads of New Jersey, you automatically give your implied consent to a breath test. While they cannot physically force you to take a breath test, refusing a breathalyzer has its own penalties and license suspension.
Additionally, despite what people commonly think, you do not need a BAC of .08% to be convicted for DUI. Police and prosecutors are trained to use information from a driver’s performance on “standardized field sobriety tests” to determine the driver’s ability to drive due to intoxication. Even if your BAC is under .08%, if you are too drunk to drive, you can be convicted. Different people have different abilities to function after consuming alcohol, and some people may be unsafe to drive, even under .08%.
What Are the Penalties for Driving While Intoxicated in New Jersey?
The penalties for violating New Jersey’s DUI laws can be tough. First, no matter what type of violation you perform, one requirement will be required to take twenty-four to forty-eight hours of treatment at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. Additionally, any type of DWI, except for a first offense alcohol DWI (with a BAC under .10%), can lead to the possibility of ordered supervision, similar to being on probation. Some penalties also include having an “interlock” installed on your car, which is a device that will not allow the car to start unless you blow a sober BAC.
For a first offense based on alcohol, or a BAC of .08% to .10%, you may face fines up to $400, up to thirty days in jail, and a three month license suspension. For a first offense based on drugs or a BAC of .10% or higher, you face fines up to $500, up to thirty days in jail, and a license suspension of between seven and twelve months.
For a second DWI offense (of any kind), penalties are increased. Fines are up to $1,000, you will spend between two and ninety days in jail, you must perform thirty days of community service, you face additional fines, and your license will be suspended for two years. For a third or subsequent offense, the fine is a guaranteed $1,000 fine, jail time is no less than 180 days, and your license is suspended for ten years.
There are even more penalties if your DWI occurs in a school zone, if you are driving a minor child in your car, or your license is already suspended. If a minor is arrested for DWI, they face a lower BAC threshold of .01%.
Speak to an Experienced Atlantic County DWI/DUI Attorney
If you or a loved one has been arrested in Atlantic County for drunk or drugged driving, you should hire a New Jersey DUI attorney. The Law Offices of John J. Zarych handles DUI cases in Atlantic County and other parts of New Jersey. Call (609) 616-4956 or contact us online for a consultation.