Plea Bargains Not Available in New Jersey DWI Cases

law officeDriving while intoxicated (DWI) is one of the most commonly charged offenses in the state of New Jersey. The Department of Justice found that more than 24,000 people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in New Jersey in 2013 alone. This number averages out to more than 65 DWI arrests each day of the year.

The basic offense of a DWI consists of an individual operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater. You should know that even if your BAC is below 0.08 percent, you can still be convicted of a DWI if your ability to drive was impaired. Essentially, you should not get behind the wheel if your ability to drive has been negatively affected by any substance.

While most people are familiar with the idea of plea bargaining, they are often misinformed about what that means in the context of DWI cases. Plea bargaining simply refers to a dismissal or a downgrade of a charge. Plea bargains are not available in New Jersey DWI cases. In fact, the Attorney General has issued directives to all of the Municipal Courts and prosecutors, banning all plea bargains in DWI cases.

What this means for an individual charged with a New Jersey DWI is that a Municipal Court can only downgrade or dismiss a DWI charge when there is actual doubt as to the state’s ability to establish the DWI violation. In all DWI cases, the burden of proof is on the state to prove the elements of a DWI “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is the highest burden of proof in the criminal justice system and requires that the fact finder be left with an abiding conviction that the charges against the defendant are true.

This is where your lawyer should be able to identify genuine issues with the state’s case and raise the appropriate defenses in your case. A prosecutor may exercise his or her discretion in your case if he or she is convinced that the case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, if you build a strong enough case, the prosecutor may reduce the DWI charge. A prosecutor may also use his or her discretion to allow the defendant to plead out to a DWI and to drop any refusal charges in the case. In some cases, the prosecutor may even drop the charges altogether.

A potential DWI conviction is not something you should take lightly because it can have far-reaching consequences for many aspects of your life. If you have been charged with a DWI, you should not delay in contacting a seasoned New Jersey DWI lawyer who can assess the merits of your case. Our firm is committed to protecting the rights of our clients at every step of the way. While there is no way to plea bargain in a New Jersey DWI case, a strong defense can help you achieve a similar outcome to what would have been available through a plea bargain. For more information, call us at 877-450-8301 or reach out to us online.

More Blog Posts:

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Appealing a DWI Conviction in New Jersey