Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in a NJ DWI Case
In a New Jersey DWI case, the prosecutor must prove - beyond a reasonable doubt - that a driver operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a prohibited drug.
This proof applies to both the breath alcohol or blood alcohol ("per se" charge), and the overall physical case against the driver. If the prosecutor is successful in proving either aspect of a DWI or DUI charge - beyond a reasonable doubt, then the driver will be found guilty of the DWI / DUI charge.
Beyond a reasonable doubt is subjective, and its meaning is different to different judges. If reasonable doubt as to the driver's guilt exists in the judge's mind, then the charges are not proven sufficiently to result in a conviction.
While the defendant has no burden of proof and doesn't have to show any proof as to his or her innocence, realistically, it has to be demonstrated that the evidence against the driver does not establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is therefore important to hire a qualified New Jersey DWI attorney to marshal all of the information and evidence to be able to give the prosecutor and judge reasons to find the driver not guilty of the NJ DWI.
On a first alleged offense, if the breath or blood result is excluded from evidence or the breath alcohol content (BAC) is under 0.10%, but the physical charge of DWI is proven, then license suspension will be from the day of conviction until proof of installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) is presented to the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), a $200 restoration fee is paid, and a new license is issued with the word "INTERLOCK" on it. The IID must be installed in the car primarily operated by the convicted driver for a period of 3 months. If the physical case is also not proven, then a not guilty finding results. However, if the breath/blood result is not excluded, and the BAC is 0.10% but less than 0.15%, then the IID must remain installed for a period of 7 to 12 months from the date of installation. If the breath/blood reading is not excluded, and the BAC is 0.15% or greater, there is a 4 to 6 month loss of license, and an IID must be installed during the suspension period and remain installed for a period of 9 to 15 months after the license is restored. Fines for 1st offenses, in court, are between $600 and $800. Surcharges, out of court, are $3,000 to the State, plus insurance company surcharges that range from $3,000 to more than $10,000. 2 days must be served in the IDRC - the Intoxicated Driver's Resource Center, which consists of 2 days of alcohol classes. While jail is possible under the statute, up to 30 days, it is unlikely that a first alleged offender will go to jail, without injury to another person.
On a second alleged DWI offense, the breath/blood result must be excluded from evidence and the physical case must establish that the driver is not guilty of DWI. If either the breath/blood result or the physical case are proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then the result is a 1 to 2 year loss of New Jersey driving privileges, fines and assessments in court between $500 and $1,000, a $3,000 surcharge payable to the state over 3 years, and a range of $3,000 to more than $10,000 in insurance company surcharges. Driving privileges will be restored when the convicted driver shows proof of installation of an IID in the vehicle primarily operated by the driver. The IID must remain installed in the car for 2 to 4 years following license suspension. The driver must serve 48 hours in the IDRC, and additional alcohol counseling may be ordered by the IDRC. The driver must also perform 180 hours of community service. A jail term of 2 to 90 days is mandatory. Some courts require actual jail time, and others allow for the minimum 2 day jail term to be served concurrently, or at the same time, as the IDRC component.
On a third or greater alleged offense, again, the breath/blood result must be excluded from evidence and the physical case must establish that the driver is not guilty of DWI. If either the breath/blood result or the physical case are proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then the result is an 8 year loss of New Jersey driving privileges, fines and assessments in court of about $1,400.00, out of court surcharges to the State of $4,500, and additional insurance company surcharges ranging from $3,000 to $10,000. An IID must remain installed in the car for 2 to 4 years following license suspension. The driver must serve 12 hours in the IDRC, and additional alcohol counseling may also be ordered by the IDRC. A jail term of 180 days is mandatory. The only way jail can be avoided is by going through the prior convictions and obtaining "Post Conviction Relief" in the courts where the driver was originally convicted for one or more of the prior offenses.
A conviction for Refusal to Submit to Breath Testing also results in mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device. The length of time an IID must be installed, license suspension period, and fees and surcharges vary depending on whether it is a first, second, or third or greater Refusal conviction.