DUI: Driving Under the Influence

If you have recently been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI or DWI), our legal team of New Jersey criminal defense attorneys may be able to help you reduce or dismiss your charges. Please take a few moments to look over the information on this page to learn more.

What is a DUI/DWI charge in New Jersey?

DUI in New Jersey stands for “driving under the influence” and is synonymous to DWI– or “driving while intoxicated”.

According to New Jersey law (N.J.S.A 39:4-50), it is illegal to “…operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant’s blood.”

That means you can be convicted of a DUI (also called “DWI”) in NJ in two different ways. The first is to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. In this case, the New Jersey prosecutor must prove that you consumed alcohol to the point where you became intoxicated.

In the second type of DUI case, New Jersey must only prove that your blood alcohol level was at .08% or more to convict you. They usually test this through blood testing or a breathalyzer.

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What are the penalties for a DUI in New Jersey?

The penalties for a New Jersey DUI or DWI conviction can be severe and can affect your driver’s license, your insurance rates, and you may even have to serve in jail. The New Jersey Court must impose a mandatory license suspension if you are convicted and NJ law dictates that there are no exceptions or exemptions for this suspension.

First time NJ DUI offenders can expect to lose their license for 3 months to 1 year. It is also possible that you will have to serve time in jail, though this is unlikely for a first conviction. You may also be forced to attend a program with the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center and pay fines for the offense.

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How can I fight a DUI charge in NJ?

Here are a few arguments our NJ DUI lawyers use to help clients win cases.

  1. There was no valid reason to pull you over. Police officers in New Jersey must have a valid reason to pull over your vehicle – otherwise, it’s an invasion of your privacy. Many traffic stops are made without a proper reason. If the Court rules that your stop was not justified, they can’t use any DUI evidence they obtained in your trial.
  2. The police officer didn’t “follow the rules”. There’s a specific protocol police officers must follow when administering field sobriety tests to ensure accurate results. Your New Jersey criminal defense lawyer will cross examine the officer to make sure he followed protocol when testing you.
  3. The police officer didn’t read you your rights. If you are arrested in NJ and the police officer fails to give you the Miranda warning (that you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say will be used against you, and that you are entitled to a lawyer), you can challenge your case.
  4. Breath test equipment may be inaccurate. The most commonly used breathalyzer machine, the BAC Datamaster, can produce varied results and readings can vary up to 50% from your actual breath alcohol content.
  5. You can challenge the testimony of the arresting officer. Your New Jersey DUI attorney can cross examine the officer to challenge the accuracy of his observations of you and other aspects of the arrest. Sometimes officers mistake your case for another, or have a faulty memory, and may confuse details from your case.

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Do I need to hire a NJ criminal defense lawyer?

If you are facing a DUI charge, you will benefit from the help offered by a NJ DUI defense attorney. Your New Jersey criminal defense lawyer will help you understand the nature of the charges filed against you, what available defense options you may have, what types of plea bargains you may be offered, and what may happen to you if you are convicted.

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When should I contact a NJ DUI lawyer?

The earlier you consult with a NJ DUI attorney, the better. It’s best to consult with your lawyer as so0n as possible after an arrest. Your lawyer will then advise you on what to expect in the days to come and may be able to position you for a better outcome.

Here are some things your NJ criminal defense lawyer may be able to do:

  • Negotiate a Dismissal – Your NJ DUI lawyer may be able to spot problems with the case early on. He or she can contact the prosecutor before charges are authorized, explain the problem with the case, and get the charges against you dismissed before the case begins.
  • Negotiate a Favorable Plea Bargain – Even if the charges brought against you are valid, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to drop some of the charges if you plead guilty to a less serious charge.

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Do I need an attorney even if I intend to plead guilty?

For the most part, it’s in your best interest to contact a defense attorney rather than represent yourself. Even if you are guilty of the crime and intend to plead guilty, a NJ criminal defense lawyer can help you minimize your sentence for a more favorable outcome.

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What if I can’t afford an lawyer?

It is your right under the US Constitution to be represented by a lawyer if you have been accused of a crime. If you can’t afford an attorney, you can ask the court to appoint a public defender to your case during your first court appearance (usually, your arraignment or bail hearing).

If you don’t qualify for free counsel but can’t afford a private lawyer, you can still obtain the services of a public defender. At the end of your trial, the judge may require you to reimburse the state or county for a portion of your legal fees.

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What can I expect if I contact a New Jersey criminal defense attorney?

Once you request a Free Case Evaluation, a New Jersey criminal defense attorney will contact you to discuss the details of your case. These include:

  • Your side of the story
  • Evaluate the extent and severity of your case
  • Determine which course of action will yield the most favorable outcome
  • Fully explain all possible ramifications

If you decide to retain legal representation with one of our New Jersey criminal attorneys, your case will be prepared as if it indeed will be necessary to go to trial.

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What happens at my arraignment in New Jersey?

At your arraignment, you or your lawyer appear in court to enter a plea of “not guilty” and the judge will set your pretrial or trial date. If you are charged with a misdemeanor and are represented by an attorney, you won’t have to appear in court. If you are charged with a felony, you must appear at all court appearances unless you file a special waiver.

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Will I get a trial by jury?

The US Constitution grants those accused of a crime the right to be tried by a jury. However, most petty crimes, which are those that carry a sentence of less than six months, are not tried before a jury.

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What are the fees for a New Jersey criminal attorney?

Your initial consultation is free. Once you have spoken with one of our NJ criminal lawyers, we will estimate a fee based on the nature and complexity of your case. We offer flexible payment plans and can accommodate the needs of most people.

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How do I get started with my NJ DUI case?

Please fill out the Free Case Evaluation form on the top right side of this page and we will respond within 24 hours. If you wish to speak with someone immediately, call our client-intake specialist, Ken Cooper, at (856) 308-5426.