Being pulled over for drunk driving can be a scary experience, and may seem like the end of the world. While a DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction can have serious consequences in New Jersey, an arrest is not the end of your case. You still have a chance to go to court, challenge the evidence against, you – and you have the right to have an attorney represent you throughout the process.
If you were charged with DWI in Brooklawn, NJ, talk to a South Jersey DWI attorney right away. Even if you are from across the river in Pennsylvania, you will have to fight the charges against you in the State of New Jersey. For a free consultation on the charges against you, call The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956.
Definition of DWI in Brooklawn
The first step in challenging DWI charges is understanding DWI law, and discerning whether your conduct was actually illegal in the first place. New Jersey’s DWI statute, N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50, is quite broad and covers a variety of conduct. Not only is it illegal to drive with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08% or higher, it is also illegal to drive any time you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs (even if your BAC is under .08%), or to allow someone else to drive your car while they are drunk or high. This means that you could be arrested and convicted of DWI with a BAC under the “legal limit” of .08% if you were nevertheless too drunk to drive.
The government must prove that you were intoxicated to convict you. Alcohol affects people in different ways, and some people may not feel drunk or affected by alcohol, even with a relatively high blood alcohol content. However, if your BAC is over .08%, you can be convicted of DWI even if you only felt buzzed.
Police and prosecutors can use evidence from blood or breath tests, as well as other evidence to prove you were intoxicated. Police need a warrant or your consent to test your blood, but may perform a breath test when they arrest you. However, police can testify to other evidence that indicates you were intoxicated, such as:
- The odor of alcohol or drugs on your person or breath;
- Bloodshot eyes;
- Slurred speech;
- Poor balance;
- Poor coordination;
- Dangerous driving (speeding, failing to stop at stop signs, swerving, etc.); and
- Poor performance on field sobriety tests.
Field sobriety tests are tasks that test your coordination, balance, and other elements that indicate intoxication. Though they are somewhat scientific, they are not always good evidence of intoxication. Similarly, blood and breath tests are not always accurate, and may be tainted at the laboratory or skewed by uncalibrated equipment or biased forensic technicians.
Penalties for DWI in Brooklawn
If you are convicted of DWI, you may face very harsh penalties. Every DWI conviction carries the risk of jail time, fines, and a license suspension. In addition, every DWI case carries court and service fees, expensive drivers’ education and evaluation, and the possibility of supervised probation and an ignition interlock. An ignition interlock is a device that attaches to your car, and will not allow the vehicle to start without a clean breath sample. Otherwise, the following are the specific penalties for DWI crimes:
For a first time DWI based on general drunkenness or a BAC of .08% to .10%, you can face up to 30 days in jail, fines of $250-$400, and a 3-month license suspension.
For a first time DWI based on drug use or a BAC of .10% or higher, you can face up to 30 days in jail, fines of $250-$400, and a license suspension for 7 months to 1 year.
For a second DWI (of any kind), you face jail time from 48 hours up to 90 days, fines of $500-$1,000, and a 2-year license suspension. In addition, you must perform 30 days of community service and shall have an interlock installed on your car for 1-3 years.
For a third or further DWI (of any kind), you face at least 180 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, and a 10-year license suspension. In addition, you must have an interlock installed on your car for 1-3 years.
These offenses have increased punishments for additional DWI offenses, but the court only looks back 10 years for a prior DWI, so there may be room for flexible sentencing.
Our Brooklawn DUI/DWI Defesen Attorneys Can Help
If you or a loved one was charged with drunk or drugged driving in Brooklawn, NJ, talk to an attorney today. The DWI and criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych have over 30 years of experience handling criminal charges for their clients. Call (609) 616-4956 today for a free consultation on your DWI charges.