Hamilton Township DUI/DWI Defense Lawyer
Drunk driving is a serious offense in New Jersey. While many crimes have higher penalties, New Jersey’s drunk driving statutes are designed to punish people with guaranteed sentences and fines. Any DWI charge in New Jersey also holds the potential for license suspensions, fines, and jail time – even for first offenses.
If you or a loved one has been charged with DWI in New Jersey, contact a criminal defense attorney. The potential punishments can interrupt anyone’s life. Moreover, these crimes could appear on your record and disqualify you for future jobs, especially jobs that require driving. To fight your case, reduce charges, or maybe even get charges dropped, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today.
New Jersey Drunk and Drugged Driving Laws
In the State of New Jersey, the crime of drunk driving is called “driving while intoxicated” (DWI) instead of “driving under the influence” (DUI). N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50. Defines DWI as any of the following:
- Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher; or
- Permitting another who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol to operate your motor vehicle.
There are a few noteworthy things about these definitions:
First, the first definition just covers driving while under the influence, and does not reference a BAC. That means that you can technically be charged with DWI without a BAC test. In this case, police point to factors other than blood or breath tests to determine whether you are intoxicated or not. This means looking at things like alcohol on your breath, glassy eyes, unstable balance, and slurred speech. They also look at whether you are driving safely or not. Swerving, running stop signs, and speeding may help show that you are not driving safely.
Police also rely upon “field sobriety tests” to help determine whether a driver is too drunk to drive. Field sobriety tests check your ability to perform simple tasks that a sober person should be able to perform. These typically include walking a straight line, balancing on one foot, and following the officer’s finger with your eyes. Though these have some foundation in science, a good defense attorney may be able to challenge these tests as evidence in court.
The second thing worth noting is that the third definition of DWI means you can be arrested without actually driving. Under this law, letting someone else drive your car drunk is just as bad as driving it yourself.
The last thing worth noting is the reference to a BAC of .08%. BAC stands for “blood alcohol concentration,” and is a measure of how much alcohol is in your bloodstream. It can be checked with a blood test or a breath test, called a “breathalyzer.” The accuracy of these tests is often good, but the tests can still be challenged in court. Many times, lab results are tainted or equipment is not calibrated or tested correctly. Driving with a BAC over .10% is a higher level of DWI offense.
Punishments for NJ DWIs
The punishments for DWI in New Jersey change depending on your BAC, whether you were under the influence of drugs, and how many other DWI convictions you have.
Aside from the punishments for driving under the influence, you can also face punishment for refusing a breath test. N.J.S.A. § 39:50.4a states that if you refuse a breath test during a DWI investigation, the MVC will automatically revoke your license for between seven months and one year.
Aside from that, every DWI faces certain punishments. Any DWI can result in classes and screenings at NJ’s Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. There is also a possibility of community service, probation supervision, and the installation of an ignition interlock. An ignition interlock stops you from starting your car until it accepts a clean breath sample. In addition, every DWI case has built-in fines and surcharges totaling around $325.
For your first DWI, if you were under the influence of alcohol or had a BAC over .08% (and under .10%), your punishment includes $250 to $400 in fines, up to 30 days in jail, and a three-month license suspension. For a first DWI with a BAC of .10% or higher (or for drugs), the punishment is a fine of $300 to $500, up to 30 days in jail, and a suspension between seven months and one year.
For a second DWI offense of any kind, you face fines of $500 to $1,000, jail time between 48 hours and 90 days, a two-year license suspension, and must have an ignition interlock. For a third or further offense, the fine is $1,000, jail time is no less than 180 days, and your license is suspended for 10 years.
DWI Defense Attorney in New Jersey
For help with your DWI/DUI case in Hamilton, or anywhere in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Our experienced defense attorneys understand DWI cases and how police and prosecutor errors can make the case fall apart. For help fighting your charges, getting punishments reduced, and getting charges dropped, call our attorneys today. Call (609) 616-4956 today for a free consultation.