The crime of drunk or drugged driving, called “driving while intoxicated” (DWI) in New Jersey, is a serious offense. Because of the potential danger for yourself and others, police and prosecutors take DWI charges very seriously. This means that you need a criminal defense attorney who will take the charges just as seriously.
The Collingswood DWI defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych will represent you on your DWI charges, fight to get evidence blocked, and work to get charges dropped where possible. For a free consultation with our South Jersey DWI lawyers, call our law offices today at (609) 625-3006.
Driving While Intoxicated Charges in Collingswood, NJ
If you were arrested for DWI, it is important to understand the charges against you, and the legal definitions of the conduct the police and prosecutors must prove. Simply being arrested and accused of a crime is not enough to face the penalties for the offense. First, the government must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed the offense. Under N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50, this means proving two elements:
You were driving a vehicle, and
You were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Instead of proving you were driving, the DWI statute actually allows police to charge you with DWI if you allowed someone else to drive while they were intoxicated. In addition, you can be charged with DWI if you were not actually driving, but simply had access to the keys and the car. For instance, pulling over and sleeping in your car with the keys in the ignition could still qualify as a DWI crime (if you are drunk).
Second, and more importantly, is the “while intoxicated” part of DWI. The DWI statute includes both drug and alcohol DWIs. This means that any driving while sufficiently “under the influence” can lead to a DWI conviction. The “legal limit” of .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is one way of being too drunk to drive. In order to prove you were over .08%, police need to use a breath or blood test. When you are arrested, police may force you to take a breathalyzer test, which can often be used as evidence that your BAC was .08% or higher. In addition, there are separate penalties for refusing a breathalyzer.
On top of the breath test, police can prove you were intoxicated by how you act, move, and even smelled. Smelling alcohol on your breath, smelling weed on your clothes, and witnessing bloodshot eyes are all clear indicators that you are drunk or high, as are slurred speech and stumbling movements. Police can also use evidence that you drove off the road or swerved as proof that you were driving drunk or high. The observations police make, plus your performance on field sobriety tests, can be proof of intoxication. These field sobriety tests are physical tests used to determine whether or not you are intoxicated, and may come in as evidence under some circumstances.
South Jersey Penalties for DWI
There are two general “tiers” of DWI. The first, lower tier covers DWIs based on general alcohol intoxication and BACs between .08% and .10%. The second, higher tier covers drug DWIs and DWIs with a BAC of .10% or higher. Both are punished harshly under New Jersey law, and always carry the possibility of paying standard fees, the use of an ignition interlock, being sent to drivers’ education and assessment, and facing the potential of a court-ordered period of supervision. However, penalties such as fines, jail time, and drivers’ license suspension periods vary based on which tier of DWI you were charged with, and how many prior DWIs you were convicted for.
For a first-time, low-tier DWI, you face potential fines of $250-$400, jail time up to 30 days, and a 3-month license suspension.
For a first-time, high-tier DWI, you face potential fines of $300-$500, jail time up to 30 days, and a license suspension of 7 months to 1 year.
For a second DWI (of any kind), you face the potential of $500-$1,000 in fines, at least 48 hours in jail (up to 90 days maximum), and a 2-year license suspension. In addition, you face 30 days community service and a mandatory ignition interlock for 1-3 years.
For a third or further DWI (of any kind), you face the potential of a $1,000 fine, at least 180 days in jail, a 10-year license suspension, and an ignition interlock for 1-3 years. Instead of 180 days in jail, you may be able to spend 90 in jail and 90 in an in-patient treatment facility.
Collingswood, NJ Drunk Driving Lawyer
The Collingswood DWI defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to help if you were charged with a DWI crime in South Jersey. For a free consultation on your charges, contact our law offices today at (609) 625-3006.