New Jersey’s driving while intoxicated (DWI) statute is incredibly strict. Not only does this offense usually come with a fine and NJ driver’s license suspension for a first offense, but it can also come with a license suspension. The license suspensions for drunk and drugged driving offenses are longer for repeat DWI offenders, but first-time offenders can still lose their license for at least 3 months. The Atlantic City drunk driving defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to help with your DWI charges and driver’s license suspension if you were charged with drunk driving in South Jersey or at the Jersey Shore.
Drunk Driving License Suspensions in NJ
Drunk driving offenses come in two types under N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50. The first “tier” of DWI offense applies to drunk driving generally as well as drunk driving with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08% or higher. The second “tier” of DWI is for drunk driving with a BAC over .10% or drugged driving.
For a first-time, low-tier DWI, you face the potential of a 3-month license suspension. For a first-time, high-tier DWI offense, you face a suspension of 7 months to 10 years. A second offense of either type committed within 10 years results in a 2-year license suspension, and a third or subsequent offense within 10 years carries a 10-year license suspension.
On top of the license suspensions, you also face potential fines and jail time, as well as other offenses. Fines start at $250 for DWI offenses and grow as high as $1,000. You can face up to 30 days in jail for a first-time offense. A second offense has a minimum of 48 hours in jail, and a third or further offense requires at least 180 days in jail. These offenses also carry the potential of:
- Driver education and screening,
- Community service,
- Probation supervision,
- Losing the ability to register a vehicle,
- Around $325 in fees and surcharges,
- Annual surcharges from the Motor Vehicle Commission of $1,000-$1,500 per year for 3 years ($3,000-$4,500 total).
If you have a driver’s license from another state, you can still lose your license at home. If you were arrested for DWI while on vacation at the shore or traveling through New Jersey, NJ can revoke your privilege to drive in New Jersey. However, most states have agreements with other states or laws that you must report serious traffic violations you receive in another state. Your home state may suspend your license under their own drunk driving rules if the NJ statute overlaps with their own drunk driving statute. This would prevent you from driving at home or in any other state, even though New Jersey cannot suspend your license in those states.
Under New Jersey law, drunk drivers are usually investigated with breathalyzer tests. Police do not need to get a warrant to use a breath test and may demand you submit to one at the time of arrest. If you refuse, you could face additional charges and license suspensions for refusing a breathalyzer test. If you are faced with these charges, it is crucial that you contact an experienced DWI/DUI Test Refusal Lawyer to assist you in clearing your name.
Fighting DWI Cases in New Jersey
If you were charged with DWI, one of the best ways to avoid the license suspension is to beat the charges against you. Even with a breathalyzer test indicating intoxication, there are other ways to challenge the DWI case against you. In many cases, uncalibrated or improperly administered breathalyzer tests may be inadmissible in court. Police also point to other evidence to prove you were drunk, like slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or poor performance on field sobriety tests. If police witnessed this evidence after an illegal traffic stop, it may all be inadmissible in court.
Even serious evidence like a confession may be blocked from court if it was illegally obtained. Police are required to warn you about your right to remain silent (your Miranda rights) if they question you while you are in custody. If they obtain a confession without reading you your rights or by coercing/threatening you, you may be able to have the confession thrown out.
If you are convicted for DWI, you may still have options to reduce the severity of the sentence. Although NJ law authorizes jail time for a first-time DWI, this penalty is rare. Without a serious accident, injury, or death, there is usually no justification for high jail times. You cannot avoid the license suspension, but other penalties may be reduced for cooperation, good behavior, and other mitigating factors. In many cases, probation or fines are sufficient punishment.
Atlantic City DWI License Suspension Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was charged with drunk driving or drugged driving in South Jersey, talk to the Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our attorneys offer free consultations to help you understand the potential penalties you face and how you may be able to challenge the charges against you. For help with your case, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.