I have been charged with a DWI under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, what happens now?
New Jersey takes a very strong stance against DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) also called DUI (Driving Under the Influence), and if convicted there must be a loss of license.
A person can be found guilty for a DUI if they have a blood alcohol content (bac) of .08 or higher, or if they are suspected of being under the influence of an illegal or a legal drug, which the officer believes, impaired the driver’s ability to operate the motor vehicle.
What you can expect from my representation for DWI/DUI charges:
Once retained as your attorney, I immediately file a Not Guilty Plea in writing, and request all available discovery (evidence that the State may have against you) including any video and audiotapes which might exist. Although the Court attempts to resolve all DWI matters within 60 days, a Court may not force us to resolve a DWI matter until we are given an opportunity to review all requested evidence.
Review of the evidence
Once retained as your attorney, we first must decide if the State can prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I will investigate every claim thoroughly to ensure there was a proper reason (reasonable suspicion) for the police to stop your vehicle. After an initial stop, typically the police will require you to perform field sobriety tests (FST tests). These tests can include walking in a straight line, standing on one leg, reciting the alphabet, and shining a light in your eyes. During the discovery process we can determine if these tests were administered properly, and whether certain legal defenses can arise from improper testing.
After the FST tests, if the police believe they have probable cause that your ability to drive a motor vehicle was impaired, they usually bring you down to the police station to blow into a machine (the Alcotest) to determine your blood level of alcohol. In the State of New Jersey any reading over .08 bac is considered a “per se” violation of the law, and if this reading is entered into evidence you will be found guilty and convicted of a DWI. If this reading is thrown out, although the Sate may be able to prove their case through observation, the penalties and loss of license is decreased substantially.
There are ways to challenge the Alcotest. In the discovery process I look in part for the following:
- Was the officer properly trained and certified to administer this test?
- Was this machine calibrated within the time period required?
- Were the solutions changed within the proper time period, or were they expired?
- Was the temperature probe properly calibrated within the required time period?
- Was there an uninterrupted 20-minute observation period where you were watched prior to taking this test? (There are multiple evidentiary reasons why this must occur)
What Happens if I Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer
If you refused to blow into the Alcotest, or attempted but a good reading did not come out of the machine, you are likely to be charged in addition with a DUI to a refusal under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50-2. To provide a proper breath sample.
Upon probable cause, New Jersey does require that you provide a valid breath sample. If this is not done, the penalties for this violation are equal and in some cases more severe then just the DUI alone. In these cases we must check to determine if there was a valid reason to ask you to provide a breath sample. We then must check to make sure the Alcotest was working properly, and finally, we must make sure you were read a very specific statement that details what you penalties will be for failure to provide this sample. Also, if there was a language barrier, this might be raised as a defense.
What if my case involves drugs, not alcohol?
DUI matters for drugs are cases that require the State to prove you guilty by observations of the officer. They usually require a special DRE (Drug recognition Officer) to evaluate you, and write a report detailing why they believe your abilities were impaired. (The exception is for marijuana, where any officer can make these observations). Often there is a urine or blood sample which the State will also attempt to enter into evidence to sustain a conviction.
What if all of the evidence is against me and I am guilty?
In many cases, I find the State acted properly, and there is enough evidence to convict. If this is your situation, you are still absolutely entitled to review all evidence, and make sure that the State can prove their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Neither the Prosecutor, nor a Judge, will hold it against you to slow the process down so you are given a chance to review this information. However, once reviewed, if the evidence is against you, now is the time to negotiate a reasonable plea deal.
Plea Bargain for DWI
There is a restriction in New Jersey to offer a Plea Bargain for DUI’s. Instead, negotiations will involve working at a deal to dismiss all other tickets and keep the penalties to the mandatory minimums under the law. DUI charges can have serious consequences on you life, and the goal in the negotiation phase is to find a way to minimize these consequences.
The State is under no obligation to enter into a Plea deal, and may request a Judge to impose a maximum sentence upon conviction.
DWI First Offender BAC .08
- 90 day license suspension
- A fine of $250-$400
- Imprisonment for up to 30 days
- A minimum of twelve hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
First Offense when a BAC reading is .10 or higher or for a drug case
- A license suspension between 7 months and 1 year
- A fine of $300-$500*
- Imprisonment for up to 30 days
- A minimum of 12 hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
- Possible installation an ignition interlock device in any vehicle you principally operate during the license suspension period and for a period of 6 months to 1 year after license restoration. This is mandatory for any reading .15 or higher
DWI Second Offense
- 2-year license suspension
- A fine of $500-$1,000
- Imprisonment of at least 48 consecutive hours, and up to 90 days
- 48 hours in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of 1 year to 3 years after license restoration
DWI Third Offense
- 10-year driving privilege suspension
- $1000 fine
- 90 days minimum community service
- 12-48 hours at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
- 180 days imprisonment
Tickets received in a school zone will enhance these penalties.
In addition to these fines, all DUI matters carry minimum fees of $364 that must be paid to the State of new Jersey.
Hire an Attorney
Give me a call at (973) 686-9787. We can discuss your case, and I will give you a free phone consultation with no obligation. If you decide to retain my services, I offer reasonable flat fees, with payment plans possible. If you are unable to get to my office, we can get started initially by phone.
I have been admitted to practice law since 1991, and have extensive experience handling DWI matters. The State will not look to walk away from a conviction when they believe they have enough evidence to prove the State’s Case, but they will be open to discuss reasonable penalties. You need to hire an experienced attorney.
I understand that if you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, this can be a very stressful time. What occurs next can either have a great impact on your life, or it can be minimized. This is your life, and you owe it to yourself to speak with an experienced attorney.
David W. Polsky Admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1991.