Drunk driving defense attorneys such as myself and my colleagues can only help people just so much. When a driver makes a mistake or error in judgment and gets behind the wheel of his or her automobile while possibly intoxicated, a qualified DWI defense lawyer can be of great assistance in fighting a potential DWI or drug DUI charge. But after the case is closed, whatever the outcome, the choice to repeat the original episode is solely up to the driver himself.
As professional litigators experienced in representing motorists accused of operating a vehicle while under the influence of beer, wine, hard liquor or prescription drugs, we can only advise our clients to exercise discretion and not to end up in a similar situation in the future. Unfortunately, human nature is a tough thing to overcome with some individuals and many previously-convicted drunk drivers — or even those acquitted of driving while intoxicated — can end up on the hook again for being allegedly drunk behind the wheel in the future.
Here in the Garden State, multiple convictions for DWI-DUI have consequences much more serious than those for a first-time offender. While it’s no secret that harsh consequences await those convicted of a second- or third-time drunken driver, it also should not be a surprise that retaining a lawyer in such cases is usually the best course of action. Although no one can guarantee the outcome of any legal case, there are some compelling reasons to mount a strong defense for “first-timers.”
But what if one has already been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs (drug DUI)? Sometimes it’s as simple as understanding how one’s first conviction came about. For example, if a motorist defended himself or simply pleaded guilty, then going into court for the second offense could present an opportunity — namely, requesting the court to treat the second offense as a first when the time comes for sentencing.
On the other hand, if this second DWI but your first in-state offense, it is possible that the previous out-of-state DWI, DUI or OWI may not raise the most recent offense to that of a second DWI. By arguing specific differences in the laws between New Jersey and the other state in which the previous DWI conviction was received, there may be a chance to be sentenced under New Jersey law and applying DWI/DUI penalties for a first offender.
Of course, and like we said earlier, as DWI attorneys we can only help so much, after which it’s the client’s responsibility to be vigilant themselves. A recent news article pointed up the fact that some people don’t always consider the consequences of their actions to carefully before getting in over their head. According to the story we ran across not long ago, a Chicago woman was apparently celebrating a little too zealously following the completion of what was described as her recent drunk driving-related license suspension.
Based on the article, the 58-year-old motorist was stopped by police officers after the vehicle she was driving was observed speeding at about 2am on a Friday morning. Officers pulled her vehicle over and apparently judged that she had been drinking, as well as operating a vehicle that was not equipped with an ignition interlock device (according to police, the conditions of the suspect’s last conviction included the use of a vehicle with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device, aka BAIID).
Based on the police report, the officers arrested the woman and took her to police headquarters for processing and a breath test. The article stated that her blood-alcohol content (BAC) was measured at 0.155 percent, almost twice the legal limit. The woman reportedly told police that she had been at a local bar celebrating the end of her license suspension from 2012.
There is no telling exactly what the local court will do if this woman is convicted again, however police believe that because the woman had chosen to drive a non-BAIID-equipped vehicle that evening, she likely intended to get behind the wheel regardless of whether she was legally intoxicated or not.
Police: DUI charge for woman celebrating end of earlier DUI suspension, ChicagoTribune.com, May 4, 2013