Drunk driving in New Jersey is known as “driving while intoxicated,” or “DWI.” DWI is one of the most heavily-enforced laws in the State, and our police know where and when to catch drunk drivers. While many people have probably driven after drinking, not all of them have been drunk enough to commit a DWI, and our attorneys understand that not every case of drinking and driving is a DWI.
The DWI lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych know how DWI cases work, from beginning to end. We can help challenge arrests, challenge test results, and challenge police evidence to try to get charges reduced or dropped. If your charges go to trial, we can help fight the case in front of a jury. In any case, our lawyers offer free consultations on your Egg Harbor, New Jersey DUI/DWI case.
Definition of DWI in Egg Harbor
Every state’s DUI/DWI statute is a bit different. The first difference may be the name. New Jersey chose the name “driving while intoxicated,” but this means the same as most other states with the name “driving under the influence” (DUI).
N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50 defines DWI as operating a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alternatively, if your BAC is .08% or higher, that is also DWI. The way the law breaks this down means that you can actually be charged with DWI without a breath or blood test.
To prove DWI, police look at multiple factors. First, your driving can indicate whether you are drunk. Swerving, running red lights, speeding, and causing an accident are all signs that you might be too drunk to drive. Additionally, things like alcohol on your breath, glassy eyes, stumbling, and slurred speech all indicate intoxication. Lastly, police may use “field sobriety tests” to check whether you are drunk. These include simple tests like the Walk-and-Turn test and One Leg Stand test to check your motor skills. A good defense attorney can challenge the way the test was performed to see if the police’s evidence is fair or not.
To prove your BAC, or “blood alcohol concentration,” police use blood or breath tests. BAC is the percentage of alcohol in your blood. New Jersey police often use the Dräger Alcotest system or a blood test. These results may usually be accurate, but the devices may not be properly calibrated or tested. That means that your lawyer may be able to challenge your BAC results.
The way that the statute is written, you can even be charged with DWI without driving. Under § 39:4-50, you can be charged with DWI if you let someone else who is drunk drive your car. That means that even if you are the passenger, or even if you are not in the car, you can technically be charged with DWI in New Jersey.
Punishments for a DUI Conviction in Egg Harbor
Being convicted of a DWI in New Jersey has strict punishments. Many of the punishments have set fines, with absolute minimums and maximums. This limits the judge’s flexibility, which means you may face mandatory fines if you are convicted. Taking your case to an experienced DWI attorney is one of the best ways to avoid the penalties, if you beat the charges before sentencing.
Before listing the punishments for DWI, note that there is an additional punishment in DWI cases. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test in New Jersey, the MVC can automatically revoke your driver’s license for between seven months and one year, even without proving the DWI in court.
As for the DWI itself, the punishments vary based on your BAC, the presence of drugs in your system, or whether it is your first offense or not. DWI for general alcohol intoxication holds the same punishments as a DWI for a BAC between .08% and .10%. DWI with drugs or a BAC of .10% or higher holds a higher punishment.
A first BAC for the lower tier means fines between $250 and $400, a possibility of up to 30 days in jail, and a three-month license suspension. A DWI for a higher tier DWI means fines between $300 and $500, up to 30 days in jail, and a license suspension between seven months and one year.
For a second DWI (of any kind), the fine is between $500 and $1,000, the jail sentence is a minimum of 48 hours (up to 90 days), your license is suspended for two years, and the court will order you to use an ignition interlock. Your third or subsequent DWI results in a $1,000, jail term of at least 180 days, and a 10-year license suspension.
The “ignition interlock” is a possible punishment for any DWI, but is required for a second DWI offense. This device attaches to your car so that it will not start unless you blow a clean breath test into it. Any DWI also has fines and surcharges totaling around $325, a possibility of probation and/or community service, and required education and screening at New Jersey’s Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.
Our Egg Harbor Twp DUI/DWI Defense Lawyers Can Help
For help fighting your DWI charges in Egg Harbor, you need an experienced DWI attorney. The Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s lawyers fight DWI charges to get them dropped and get penalties reduced. For a free consultation with our lawyers, call us today at (609) 616-4956.