n New Jersey, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is used to refer to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A Driving Under the Influence (DUI), on the other hand, is not a specific legal term in New Jersey. DWI is the recognized criminal offense for impaired driving.
In a DWI trial, the defendant will endure legal proceedings that aim to determine whether they were operating their vehicle while intoxicated. The trial typically involves presenting evidence from both the prosecution and the defense. This evidence may include witness statements, chemical test results, and field sobriety test results. If found guilty, the defendant could face penalties such as fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, and potentially even jail time.
If you were arrested for DWI in New Jersey, seek assistance from our experienced DUI and DWI defense lawyers by calling the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
What Happens in a New Jersey DWI Case?
The process for defending against a DWI accusation can be complicated and tiresome. Thankfully, our DUI and DWI defense attorneys can help navigate each of the following stages of your case:
Initial Arrest and Booking
When you’re pulled over by law enforcement officers under suspicion of DWI, they will assess your condition and potentially administer a breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If your BAC exceeds the legal limit of 0.08%, you will be arrested. Following the arrest, you’ll be taken to a police station for booking. During this process, your personal information will be recorded, and you may be photographed and fingerprinted. It’s essential to remain calm and cooperative during this phase, as any actions or statements you make could potentially be used against you during a later stage of the legal process.
First Court Appearance
Your first court appearance, known as an arraignment, is a critical step in the legal proceedings. You will be informed of the specific charges brought against you, and you’ll have the opportunity to enter a plea—guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
It’s strongly recommended to have legal representation at this stage. The team at our law firm can help you understand your rights and provide advice on the best plea to enter based on the circumstances of your case.
Discovery and Pre-Trial Motions
During the discovery phase, our attorneys will request and review all evidence the prosecution intends to use against you. This includes police reports, witness statements, and any results from sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests. Our team will scrutinize this evidence for any irregularities or inconsistencies that may be challenged in court. If there were any violations of your rights during your arrest or testing process, then you may be able to file pre-trial motions to suppress evidence, weaken the prosecution’s case, or even seek a dismissal of the charges being levied against you.
Plea negotiations can offer an alternative to a trial. During this stage, you may engage in discussions with the prosecution to explore the possibility of a plea deal. This might involve pleading guilty to a lesser charge, which can lead to reduced penalties.
Our attorneys’ expertise in negotiation can be crucial during this phase. We will work diligently to achieve the best possible outcome that aligns with your interests.
If negotiations do not lead to a resolution, then your case will proceed to trial. This is where our team’s meticulous trial preparation comes into play. By reviewing the evidence thoroughly and understanding the nuances of your case, our lawyers will be equipped to formulate your defense strategy and challenge the prosecution’s arguments effectively.
The trial itself is a formal legal process in which both sides present their cases before a judge or jury. The prosecution will attempt to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, often relying on the evidence gathered during your arrest and subsequent investigation.
Our lawyers’ role is to cast doubt on this evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and present an alternative perspective that raises questions about your alleged offense. We will use our courtroom experience to craft a compelling narrative and highlight any inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case.
Verdict and Sentencing
Following the trial, the judge or jury will deliver a verdict of guilty or not guilty. If you are found guilty, the case will move to the sentencing phase. Sentencing for a DWI conviction in New Jersey can be influenced by various factors such as prior convictions, the level of intoxication at issue, and any aggravating circumstances.
Penalties for DWI may include fines, mandatory attendance at alcohol education programs, community service, probation, license suspension, or even jail time. Thankfully, the team at our firm can help advocate for the most lenient sentence possible by presenting mitigating factors and arguing for alternatives to harsh penalties.
Appeals and Post-Trial Options
If you are dissatisfied with the trial outcome, then you may have the option to pursue an appeal. Appeals involve challenging the verdict on the basis of legal errors that occurred during the trial.
When preparing an appeal, you must thoroughly review the trial proceedings and identify any mistakes that could have affected the outcome. If substantial errors are found, then the appeal process will aim to rectify these issues and potentially result in a new trial or a reduced sentence. Successfully navigating the appeals process requires an in-depth understanding of appellate law and a strategic approach to presenting your case to higher courts.
How Long Does a DWI Trial Take to Complete in New Jersey?
The duration of a DWI trial in New Jersey can vary widely depending on factors such as case complexity, court availability, and the number of witnesses involved. On average, a DWI trial in New Jersey may take several days to a few weeks to reach a conclusion, encompassing the various stages of the trial process, including jury selection, evidence presentation, witness testimonies, and closing arguments.
Contact Our DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys for Help with Your Case in New Jersey
Get support from our DUI and DWI defense lawyers today by calling the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.