New Jersey DUI and DWI law is very unique from the other states in the U.S. However, driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated are still against the law, making it an offense to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Because this offense is a crime, there are serious criminal penalties that can be imposed if you are convicted of DWI or DUI. These criminal penalties can cause a loss of your freedom and lead to a difficult time maintaining employment and keeping your name in good standing within your community. If you have been arrested for a DWI or DUI offense in New Jersey, it is important that you contact a skilled New Jersey DUI lawyer who will have the knowledge, skills, and experience to successfully defend you in a DWI or DUI case.
New Jersey Drunk Driving Arrests
When you arrested for a DWI or DUI offense in the state of New Jersey, there are two ways that you can be prosecuted for such an offense. This is similar to the DWI and DUI laws in many other states. The traditional DWI/DUI is when the prosecutor will attempt to prove that a driver was under the influence. In this type of case, the prosecutor may introduce evidence of driving patterns, driver appearance, and field sobriety test results to try to prove that the defendant was driving while under the influence. The other way a driver can be prosecuted is under the “per se” law. This law exists in many states and has nothing to do with the level of impairment of a driver. This means that the prosecutor will use the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration test to show that they were in violation of the law. This will occur if the results of the test show the driver’s blood alcohol concentration level to meet or exceed the legal limit of 0.08%. If you refuse chemical testing, you will face even stiffer criminal penalties as well as the loss of your driving privileges. If you are under 21 and have a blood alcohol level of 0.01% or greater at the time of your arrest, you will also face serious consequences.
Unlike other states, a jury trial is not an option in DWI cases in the state of New Jersey. Instead, a court trial is conducted and a judge determines whether you are guilty or not guilty of a DWI offense. Unlike other states, you have a second opportunity to be found not guilty of the DWI offense. If you lose your court trial, you may request an appeal. Your case will be transferred to the Superior Court’s Law Division and a new judge will review the record. Attorneys will discuss the facts of your case and any laws that should apply. New Jersey is also unique because the driver licensing agency does not have a hearing or seek to suspend a driver’s license due to a DWI arrest. The offender’s driver’s license will not be suspended unless he or she is convicted and the court imposes a license suspension or revocation penalty.
New Jersey DUI Criminal Penalties
There are several penalties that the court can impose for a DWI conviction. They increase with each offense and vary based on the circumstances. The look-back period is in New Jersey, so the way an offender is charged will depend on the number of offenses he or she has committed and the time span in which these offenses were committeed. The penalties for a first offense are fines of $250 to $400, $30 in court costs, $50 to the violent crimes compensation board, $75 to the safe neighborhood fund assessment, $200 DWI surcharge, 12-48 hours of alcohol education, up to 30 days in jail, a restoration fee of $100, an MVC surcharge of $3,000, and separate insurance surcharges. The court may also require an offender to have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle that they drive for up to 3 years after the restoration of the offender’s driver’s license. If the DWI occurs in a school zone, the penalties are a one to two year loss of license, fines of $500 to $800, jail time of up to 60 days, and the other fines and penalties that are normally associated with a first DWI offense. A second DWI offense carries penalties of $500 to $1,000, 30 days of community service, 48 hours to 90 days of jail time, $30 in court costs, $75 to the safe neighborhood fund, $50 to the violent crimes compensation board, a $200 DWI surcharge, 48 hours of alcohol education, a restoration fee of $100, a MVC surcharge of $4,500, separate insurance surcharges, and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device in any vehicle that the offender owns for the length of the two year suspension period. Committing a second DWI offense in a school zone results in a fine of $1,000 to $2,000, 60 days of community service, mandatory jail time of 96 hours up to 180, and other penalties usually associated with a DWI offense. The penalties for a third DWI offense are harsher. There is a $1,000 fine and a mandatory jail term of 180 days in jail. You will have to pay $30 in court costs, $50 to the violent crimes compensation board, $75 to the safe neighborhood fund, and a $200 DWI surcharge. You will also be required to attend 12 hours of alcohol education classes, pay a restoration fee of $100, pay an MVC surcharge of $4,500, pay separate insurance charges for a three-year period, and have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle you own following 3 years of license restoration. If you committed the DWI offense in a school zone, you will have to pay a $2,000 fine and comply with all of the other penalties normally imposed for a third offense. These penalties are serious, so it is important that you take DWI charges seriously. Contact a New Jersey DUI attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights and have the best chance for being successful.