Drivers who get behind the wheel with drugs or alcohol in their system may be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). The label of DWI tends to apply to alcohol-related offenses, while DUI applies more to drug-related offenses. However, both are charged and prosecuted under the same statute, so it is common to see the terms used interchangeably.
DUI and DWI charges are not uncommon but should still be handled with great caution. The consequences of a DUI or DWI can be broad and affect numerous aspects of your life. Additionally, the more intoxicated you are during your DUI or DWI, the greater your penalties may be. Factors like your driving history and whether anyone was injured will also be considered.
If you were pulled over by the police and arrested for a DUI or DWI, you might need legal assistance. Our Hamilton Township DUI and DWI defense attorneys can help you fight your charges. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free case review.
Charges for DUIs and DWIs in Hamilton Township
The charges for DUIs and DWIs are unique to your situation. If you had a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC), a history of DUIs, or injured someone during your DUI, your charges and penalties could be increased. It is important you speak with our Hamilton Township DUI and DWI defense attorneys to figure out the extent of your penalties.
Your very first DUI or DWI tends to receive lighter penalties than a second, third, or subsequent violation. As a first-time offender, you are in a better position to bargain for more lenient penalties, especially if your BAC was relatively low and nobody was injured. However, even in the best of scenarios, you still have serious penalties to face.
If your BAC was at least .08% but less than .10%, you might have to pay a fine of at least $250 but no more than $400. You could also be detained for up to 48 hours or incarcerated for up to 30 days. You must also forfeit your driver’s license until you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. It is also worth noting that you can be charged with a DUI with a BAC of less than .08% as long as you are intoxicated and unable to drive safely. For higher BACs, the license suspension and other penalties may increase.
If you are charged with your second DUI or DWI in New Jersey, your fines will increase to at least $500 but not more than $1,000. You might also be ordered to perform community service and face incarceration of up to 90 days. You will also lose your driver’s license for at least 1 year but no more than 2.
For a third or subsequent offense, your fine will be at least $1,000, and you will be incarcerated for at least 180 days. However, at its discretion, the court could lower your sentence to 90 days and instead place you in a drug or alcohol inpatient rehab program. You will lose your driver’s license for 8 years also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
Other Penalties and Charges
Other factors beyond your BAC and driving history are considered when determining your charges and penalties for a DUI or DWI. Primarily, a court will look at other people involved in the incident. For example, if you had a minor passenger in your vehicle, you could face additional charges. Similarly, if someone were injured in an accident related to your DUI, your penalties would be much worse. Our Hamilton Township DWI and DUI defense lawyers can assist you in fighting your charges and any other aggravating circumstances.
Breath Tests and Chemical Testing in Hamilton Township
The infamous breathalyzer or breath test is widely used by law enforcement throughout New Jersey and the United States. These tests are used to calculate a driver’s accurate BAC and press charges for DUIs and DWIs. However, many people do not realize there are two kinds of breath tests: preliminary breath tests (PBTs) and official chemical testing. Our Hamilton Township DUI and DWI defense attorneys have experience with both forms of testing.
A preliminary breath test is often administered at the scene of the alleged DUI. These tests are sometimes called portable breath tests because the police use portable breathalyzer devices to administer the tests. You are not required to submit to these tests, and the results of these tests are typically not used in court as evidence. However, the police can use these test results to establish probable cause to support your arrest for a DUI or DWI.
Official chemical testing is done post-arrest and is legally required of all drivers. This requirement comes from implied consent laws that state that drivers consent to chemical testing simply by driving on the roads and highways of this state. The police will not physically force you to submit, but they will warn you of additional charges for refusal. Official chemical testing is often done on much larger equipment that is not portable or handheld. The results tend to be more accurate and are admissible as evidence against you.
When Can the Police Arrest Me for a DUI or DWI in Hamilton Township?
The police can only arrest you once they have established sufficient probable cause to do so. Probable cause can only be established after the police have reasonable suspicion to pull you over. If one of these elements is missing from your case, our Hamilton Township DWI and DUI defense lawyers can challenge your arrest.
Law enforcement cannot pull you over just because. They need reasonable suspicion to support stopping you. Reasonable suspicion does not require a lot of support. A police officer does not need hard evidence that you are intoxicated, just enough suspicion to warrant pulling you over. Erratic driving like weaving between lanes could be enough to make an officer suspicious.
After the police stop you for suspicion of DUI, they can begin gathering evidence for probable cause to arrest. Probable cause requires more than reasonable suspicion, and the evidence should be identifiable and articulable. Gut feelings or hunches are not grounds for probable cause. Things like field sobriety tests, PBTs, and visible signs of intoxication can all be used to support probable cause to arrest. If you believe your arrest was not based on probable cause, our Hamilton Township DUI and DWI defense lawyers can help you fight your charges.
Contact Our Hamilton Township DUI and DWI Defense Lawyers
If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI or DWI, our team can help you protect your rights. Get in touch with our Hamilton Township DWI and DUI defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Call us at (609) 616-4956 for a free initial case evaluation.