The attorneys at The Law Offices of John Zarych remain dedicated to our clients during this difficult time. Our office is open and staffed and we are performing free consultations virtually or by phone. If you have been arrested, please do not hesitate to call us.

Cape May DUI + DWI Defense Lawyer

Because intoxicated driving is so common, many drivers mistakenly assume that getting arrested for DUI or DWI (Driving Under the Influence or Driving While or Intoxicated) is simply “not a big deal.” Do not fall into this trap. DUI charges may be common, but it is not a minor or insignificant matter. On the contrary, DWI is a serious legal problem that can have lasting negative consequences. This is especially true for residents of Cape May since New Jersey is known for imposing some of the nation’s toughest DWI penalties.

If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving, you need a skilled Cape May DUI and DWI defense lawyer on your side. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our attorneys have over four decades of experience fighting DUI charges on behalf of Cape May residents. Our aggressive legal team is ready to challenge and investigate every component of the charges against you, including the legality of the traffic stop, the accuracy of blood and breathalyzer test results, and whether your Constitutional rights were violated. We will fight tenaciously to have your case dismissed, but are fully prepared to take your case all the way to trial in pursuit of a favorable outcome.

Don’t wait to start fighting the charges. To set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation with our experienced Cape May DUI attorneys, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 today.

How Police Officers Detect a DUI Offender in Cape May, NJ

One of the first defenses and tactics that a skilled Cape May DUI and DWI defense attorney will employ when they are defending a DUI case is to question whether the stop was proper or in other words did the police officer have any reason to stop the car. However, police officers are highly trained and have experience how to identify and detect when a person is potentially under the influence based on their driving patterns.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has provided a list of visual clues that an officer may employ to determine before they pull you over the likelihood that you are driving while under the influence of some substance, they are as follows:

  • Headlights off – 30%
  • Accelerating or decelerating rapidly – 30%
  • Turning abruptly or illegally – 35%
  • Stopping inappropriately (other than in the lane of travel) – 35%
  • A slow response to traffic signals – 40%
  • Driving into or crossing traffic – 45%
  • Erratic application of the brakes – 45%
  • Driving with tires on center or lane marker – 45%
  • Drifting – 50%
  • Following too closely – 50%
  • Stopping without cause in the lane of traffic – 50%
  • Driving slower than 10 miles per hour – 50%
  • Swerving – 55%
  • Driving on other than the designated highway – 55%
  • Weaving – 60%
  • Almost striking object or vehicle – 60%
  • Appearing to be drunk: (eye fixation; tightly gripping the steering wheel; gesturing erratically or obscenely; face close to the windshield; drinking in the vehicle; driver’s head protruding from vehicle) – 60%
  • Straddling center or lane marker – 65%
  • Turning with wide radius – 65%

Note that this list is not all-inclusive and there may be other factors such as if the officer saw you turn out of a bar or a restaurant that serves alcohol. There are a host of reasons why an officer may pull you over because they think that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The probabilities listed above correspond to the officer seeing only one cues. When the officer observes a combination of several cues, the probability rises. When an officer initiates a traffic stop, there is an opportunity for the observation of several more cues of impairment. The stopping sequence that the suspect uses will often be used at trial to prove that the driver was under the influence.

Penalties for DUI + DWI Charges in Cape May, NJ

New Jersey considers DUI and DWI in Cape May a traffic violation, not a criminal offense. However, the difference for drivers is largely technical, since the outcome of a conviction is effectively the same. DWI may not be a crime, but drivers who are found guilty of intoxicated driving still face an array of harsh criminal penalties, including but not limited to jail time, expensive fines and fees, and assorted penalties such as driver safety classes and counseling for substance abuse.

There is a range of potential consequences for an intoxicated driving conviction. The exact penalties you face for a Cape May DWI depend on factors such as:

  • Whether you caused property damage or personal injury
  • Whether you have a history of prior DUI offenses
  • Whether a minor passenger was present with you in the car
  • Whether the DUI involved drugs, alcohol, or both
  • Your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) at the time of the arrest
  • If you are a CDL Holder (Commercial Driver License)
  • If you are under the legal drinking age of 21 years old (Zero Tolerance)

The law is rather harsh when it comes to driving under the influence and imposes some steep penalties for those who are convicted. In addition to the penalties themselves, there are surcharges, mandatory alcohol counseling, and even jail sentences that a judge may impose.

1st Offense DUI + DWI

If you are convicted of a first offense DWI then you can face a $250.00 to $400.00 fine, $30.00 court cost, $50.00 violent crimes compensation board penalty, $75.00 safe neighborhood fund assessment, $200.00 DWI surcharge fund, 12-48 hours in the intoxicated driver’s resource center (alcohol classes), a discretionary term of up to 30 days jail, restoration fee of $100.00, MVC surcharge of $3,000.00 (payable $1,000.00 a year for 3 years), separate insurance surcharges for 3 years. The court may also order an ignition interlock device to be placed on any car the individual drives for 3 years following the restoration of driving privileges.

If the offense is committed in a school zone, loss of license for 1-2 years, a fine of $500.00 to $800.00, definite jail of up to 60 days, plus the other fines and penalties listed above.

2nd Offense DUI + DWI

$500.00 to $1,000.00 fine, 30 days community service (180 hours) , mandatory 48 hours to 90 days jail, $30.00 court cost, $50.00 violent crimes compensation board penalty, $75.00 safe neighborhood fund assessment, $200.00 DWI surcharge fund, 48 hours in the intoxicated driver’s resource center, restoration fee of $100.00, MVC surcharge of $4,500.00 (payable $1,500.00 a year for 3 years) , separate insurance surcharges for 3 years. The court must also order an ignition interlock device to be placed on any car the individual drives for 3 years following restoration of driving privileges or suspend registration privileges on all vehicles owned by the individual for the two-year license suspension period.

If the offense is committed in a school zone, fine of $1,000.00 to $2,000.00, community service for 60 days (360 hours) , mandatory jail time of 96 hours to 180 days (90 of which may be served performing community service) .

3rd Offense DUI + DWI

$1,000.00 fine, mandatory 180 days in jail (90 of which may be served in an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab program) , $30.00 court cost, $50.00 violent crimes compensation board penalty, $75.00 safe neighborhood fund assessment, $200.00 DWI surcharge fund, 12 hours in the intoxicated driver’s resource center (alcohol classes) , restoration fee of $100.00, MVC surcharge of $4,500.00 (payable $1,500.00 a year for 3 years) , separate insurance surcharges for 3 years. The court must also order an ignition interlock device to be placed on any car the individual drives for 3 years following restoration of driving privileges or the individual’s registration privileges on all vehicles owned by that person shall be suspended for the 10 year period of suspension.

If the offense is committed in a school zone, $2,000.00 fine and other penalties for third offense apply, also.

Do You Get Points on Your License for a DUI or DWI?

If you are charged with DWI in Cape May you probably want to know if you can be given points on your license. While a DWI does not carry points from the DMV often those who are charged with DWI receive several other charges at the same time. Some of these include:

  • Refusal to submit a breathalyzer test;
  • Driving with a suspended license;
  • Reckless driving;
  • Possessing an open container of alcohol;
  • Drug possession;
  • Failure to observe traffic signs
  • Failure to keep right
  • Failure to observe traffic lanes
  • Improper passing
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia.

The state’s Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) tracks driving behavior and adds points to a motorist’s record after they have been convicted of a moving violation.  While not all of the above-mentioned offenses carry points with them some of these charges can carry between 2 and 5 points.  If a person accumulates 12 points then they will be issued a notice from the MV that they will have their driving privileges suspended.

What Happens if You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Cape May?

When you get your driver’s license, you also give something back: your “implied consent” to future breathalyzer tests. In other words, all motorists in the state of New Jersey automatically consent to BAC testing. If you violate implied consent, you face penalties similar to those imposed for an actual DUI. Depending on factors like your record of prior offenses and whether the refusal occurs in a school zone, the penalties for breathalyzer refusal in Cape May include:

  • Thousands of dollars in assorted fines, fees, and surcharges.
  • At least seven months of license suspension, potentially lasting as long as 20 years (for repeat refusals).
  • At least 12 hours of mandatory IDRC participation.

As you can see from the above list, the only penalty that breathalyzer refusal does not share with DUI in Cape May is jail time. You can still lose your license, can still be heavily fined, and can still be forced to attend an IDRC. While you technically have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, unfortunately, there can be serious consequences for exercising that right.

At the same time, BAC tests are not infallible. The AlcoTest 7110 MK III breathalyzer machines used in New Jersey are notoriously inconsistent and tend to produce unreliable BAC measurements. Our attorneys will closely examine the results of your BAC tests for errors and inaccurate readings.

Mandatory fines and penalties:

  • Refusing the Chemical Test
    • First Offense
      • 7 months to 1-year driving privilege suspension
      • $300-$500 fine
      • 12 hours minimum IDRC
    • Second Offense
      • 2 years driving privilege suspension
      • $500-$1,000 fine
      • 12 hours minimum IDRC
    • Third and Subsequent Offenses
      • 10 years driving privilege suspension
      • $1,000 fine
      • 12 hours minimum IDRC
  • Refusing Chemical Test in School Zone or Crossing
      • First Offense
        • 1 to 2 years driving privilege suspension
        • $600-$1,000 fine
        • 12 hours minimum IDRC
      • Second Offense
        • 4 years driving privilege suspension
        • $1,000-$2,000 fine
        • 12 hours minimum IDRC
      • Third and Subsequent Offenses
        • 20 years driving privilege suspension
        • $2,000 fine
        • 12 hours minimum IDRC

What Is IDRC?

New Jersey has enacted a program called the Intoxicated Driving Program (IDP) which is responsible for administering post-conviction interventions for people charged with a DUI or DWI in Cape May that include educating, screening, treating, and referring those individuals who have been convicted of alcohol or drug related driving or boating offenses.

Intoxicated Driving Resource Centers or (IDRCs) are regional and country-based centers where a person will be detained, educated, and screened to determine if a person needs additional treatment.

The IDRC located closest to Cape May Court House is:
Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC)
Provider: Cape Counseling Services
128 Crest Haven Rd, Cape May Court House, NJ, 08210

If you are sentenced to a 12-hour IDRC program, you will be detained, educated, and screened for at least six hours each day on two consecutive days (a total of 12 hours) in your county IDRC.

If you are sentenced to a 48-hour IDRC program, you will be detained, educated and screened during a period of 48 consecutive hours in a regional facility approved by your county.

If you are sentenced as a third or subsequent offender, the court may sentence you to jail or to an inpatient addictions treatment program; or both. IDP will then schedule you to appear at the 12-hour IDRC for follow up.

In all cases, you must satisfy the program, fee, and treatment requirements of the IDP/IDRC. Failure to satisfy the program requirements may jeopardize the reinstatement of your driving privileges or extend your driving suspension period.

Our Cape May DUI + DWI Defense Attorneys Can Help You Today

If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving, the experienced Cape May DUI defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to help. We handle cases arising from all corners of Cape May and the surrounding area, including intoxicated driving arrests involving the Garden State Parkway, Route 109, Route 162, and Ocean Drive. If you were charged with drunk driving in Cape May, call our law offices right away at (609) 616-4956 to set up your free and confidential case evaluation with our Cape May criminal defense attorney. Our phone lines are always open, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.