If you’re spending a week at the beach or a long weekend in Atlantic City’s casinos, the last thing you might expect is to have a run-in with the law. If you were arrested for drunk or drugged driving while visiting Atlantic City, you may have a long road ahead to challenge the charges. If you were charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Atlantic City, talk to an Atlantic City DWI defense attorney about your case. The defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych fight DWI cases for out of state visitors and New Jersey residents throughout South Jersey.
DWI Charge First Steps in Atlantic City
Even if you were visiting from out of state when you were arrested for DWI in New Jersey, you could face serious consequences in New Jersey and at home. Regardless of where you’re from, if you were arrested in Atlantic City, you will have to fight the charges in Atlantic City.
The process of challenging charges against you will begin as soon as you are pulled over. Do not give police any information they don’t have access to. While you will need to tell them your name, show them your drivers’ license, and answer questions about who owns the car, where you’re from, etc., you don’t need to tell them how many drinks you had. If police have the legal right to, they will usually use a breathalyzer or blood test to determine how much you’ve had to drink, and may ask you to perform “field sobriety tests.” In New Jersey, refusing a breath test has its own punishments, so never refuse a breath test. Calmly comply with police, and you may walk away without being charged in the first place if your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is borderline.
If police do charge you with DWI, they will place you under arrest, perform testing, and release you with a court date. If you are too drunk to be released, you may spend the night in the hospital or the “drunk tank” until you can be released. The paperwork police send you off with will include a court summons. This tells you when you need to appear in court and which courthouse to go to. Unfortunately for out of state visitors, this will mean returning to New Jersey to fight your charges.
Facing New Jersey charges means returning to New Jersey and hiring a New Jersey defense attorney to handle your case. Some steps of the process may allow your attorney to enter a plea of not-guilty without your presence, or attorneys may be able to help you complete paperwork remotely. While you may need to be home to care for children or go to work, missing your court date can cause further complications. Failure to appear at a court date could lead the judge to issue a “bench warrant,” which allows police to re-arrest you to force you to come to court.
New Jersey’s Drunk Driving Offenses
If you are from Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, or another state, you may not be familiar with the drunk driving laws in New Jersey. New Jersey calls its drunk driving offense “driving while intoxicated” rather than “driving under the influence” (DUI). However, the drunk driving laws in most states are similar to New Jersey’s. New Jersey’s DWI statute, N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50, covers drunk and drugged driving. If you drank enough for your BAC to test higher than .08%, you will automatically be considered “intoxicated,” and can be arrested for drunk driving. Alternatively, if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to a degree that makes you unsafe to drive, you can still be arrested. Even if your BAC is below .08%, you can still be arrested if you are too drunk or high to drive safely.
New Jersey’s statute breaks DWI into two tiers of DWI. The first tier covers alcohol DWIs with a BAC under .10%. The second tier covers drunk DWIs or alcohol DWIs with a BAC over .10%. Both of these carry tough penalties, including jail time, fines, required drunk driving classes, fees and court costs, possible jail time, and a drivers’ license suspension.
The drivers’ license suspension may confuse out of state drivers. First, New Jersey suspends your privilege to drive in New Jersey. However, they cannot reach to suspend your license in your home state. Instead, the laws of your state may require reporting out of state drunk driving offenses. Most states will suspend your license according the DUI offense in your state that most closely matches. For instance, Pennsylvania’s DUI statute also covers drunk driving with a BAC of .08% or higher, so you could face that statute’s license suspension at home in PA.
New Jersey DWI Defense
If you were charged with drunk or drugged driving in New Jersey, talk to our South Jersey criminal defense lawyers today. The defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent people charged with DWIs in and around Atlantic City. Even if you are from out of state, our attorneys may be able to help you fight your DWI charges in New Jersey.