Why Fight My DWI Case?
Many drivers facing a New Jersey DWI ask if there is any point in fighting the charges against them. There are many excellent reasons to fight a NJ DWI charge including potential issues with the stop, the arrest, the field sobriety tests and the chemical tests. With the help of a qualified New Jersey DWI attorney, challenging the state's evidence may result in a reduction or even dismissal of the New Jersey DWI charge against you.
Here's the best reason to fight your New Jersey DWI charge: Drivers who aggressively challenge the charges may completely avoid negative consequences, but motorists who plead guilty without putting up a fight have a 100 percent chance of being convicted of drunk driving.
Although New Jersey DWI law doesn't allow for jury trials in driving while intoxicated cases, the prosecutor still has the burden of proving his or her case beyond a reasonable doubt - the highest standard of proof in our justice system. And while the prosecutor will likely introduce a lot of evidence in a NJ DWI case, every item of evidence may be challenged, and this presents opportunity to create reasonable doubt as to the driver's guilt.
Here's another good reason to fight a New Jersey DWI charge - whether it's a first offense or a multiple alleged drunk driving case, it's critical to avoid a conviction that could count as a prior in a subsequent drinking and driving case. Every driver facing a first-offense NJ DWI / DUI is certain it will never happen again, and every motorist charged with driving under the influence a second time wishes he or she had fought the first one. A first New Jersey DWI / DUI is worth fighting, if for no other reason than ensuring that the driver won't face a second New Jersey DWI.
In New Jersey, there is a 10-year "washout" or "lookback" period for drunk driving offenses, meaning that a New Jersey DWI arrest that occurs within ten years of a prior conviction will be charged as a second-offense. If a second arrest occurs more than 10 years after the first, the second offense is treated as a first time driving while intoxicated offense.
Drivers convicted of a second NJ DWI offense within 10 years face substantially harsher penalties than first-time NJ drunk drivers. This is why drivers who plead guilty to a first-time driving under the influence charge without thoroughly challenging it, end up regretting it later.
License suspension causes numerous problems for employment, social planning, and family transportation needs. First offense New Jersey DWI / DUI with a blood alcohol level of 0.15% or higher carries a 4 to 6 month license suspension. Second offense New Jersey DWI / DUI and Refusal to Submit to a breath test each carry a 1 to 2 year license suspension. Third offense NJ DWI / DUI and Refusal to Submit to a breath test each carry an 8 year license suspension. Convictions of both the New Jersey DWI / DUI charge and the Refusal charge in second and third offenses will double the license suspension.
Jail time is a significant consideration for second or greater offenders. While first offenses carry the possibility of up to 30 days in jail, incarceration is unlikely on first offense cases, except in extreme situations. Convicted second offenders must be sentenced to jail for a minimum of 2 days and a maximum of 90 days. Third offenders must serve 180 days in jail, without parole. Jail time can be reduced up to 90 days in a qualified in patient alcohol and drug rehabilitation program.
There is a significant monetary expense to a conviction. Fines and assessments in court start at $600 for a first offense, $800 for a second offense, and $1,325 for a third or greater offense. There are also surcharges to the State of $3,000 for a first and second offense, and $4,500 for a third or greater offense. New Jersey insurance companies charge additional surcharges over a period of three years that range from a $3,000 to over $10,000, depending on age, gender, and level of offense.
Effective 12/1/19, all DWI and Refusal convictions now require installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in the car principally operated by the convicted driver. The driver must surrender his/her license to the court which will send it to the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC). The driver's license will be suspended until the driver shows proof of installation of an IID to the MVC, pays a restoration fee of $200, and gets a new picture ID with the word "Interlock" printed on the top.
For first DWI offenders, if the blood alcohol level (BAC) is under 0.10%, the IID must remain installed for 3 months from the date of installation. If the BAC is 0.10%, but less than 0.15%, the IID must be installed for 7 to 12 months from the date of installation. And if the BAC is 0.15% or greater, the IID must be installed for the 4 to 6 month period of license suspension plus 9 to 15 months after the driver's license is restored.
For second and third DWI offenders, an IID must be installed for 2 to 4 years following the suspension.
For first offense Refusal, the IID must remain installed for 9 to 15 months; for second offense Refusal, 2 to 5 years; and for third offense Refusal, 2 to 4 years.
There are many reasons to challenge a New Jersey DWI charge. An experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer at Levow DWI Law is ready to aggressively fight the charges against you. Please contact Levow DWI Law today for a free consultation.