Understanding Sentencing Enhancements in New Jersey DWI Cases

gavelIn New Jersey, as in any other state, judges can impose a variety of sentences on an individual convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI). While we try our best to get a DWI charge dropped, people are sometimes convicted, and we must then shift our focus to the sentencing phase. There are certain factors that can significantly increase DWI penalties, which is why it is vital to have a seasoned New Jersey DWI attorney on your side. Our firm can help you understand the different penalties associated with aggravated DWIs as well as your legal rights and options.

Under New Jersey law, a person is deemed to be driving under the influence of alcohol if they get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. The zero tolerance BAC limit for drivers under the age of 21 is 0.02 percent. For commercial drivers, the BAC level must not exceed 0.04 percent. It is important to note that any type of impaired driving, whether it is because of alcohol or drugs, can form the basis of a DWI charge.

There are certain aggravating factors that can affect sentencing in New Jersey DWI cases. If proven, these factors can significantly increase the punishment sought by the prosecutor or imposed by the court. Examples of aggravating factors include:

  • Refusing to provide a chemical breath test when it is lawfully requested by an officer;
  • Causing an accident;
  • Causing an accident that results in injuries or death to someone else;
  • Having a BAC above a certain amount (typically, the higher the BAC, the more likely the judge will deem it an aggravating factor);
  • Having a child in the car at the time of a DWI;
  • Having prior DWI convictions within the last 10 years;
  • Driving drunk within 1,000 feet of a school;
  • Driving above a certain speed or driving recklessly at the time of a DWI.

According to the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, it is mandatory for the judge to consider aggravating factors. If any of the above aggravating factors is present, the prosecutor can generally ask for enhanced penalties, such as increased jail time, higher fines and fees, and a longer loss of driving privileges.

A court may also consider mitigating factors when determining a sentence, but it is not required to do so, as it is with aggravating factors. While mitigating factors do not excuse the defendant’s actions and will not prevent a conviction, these factors can help reduce the length of a sentence. A diligent attorney can emphasize these factors.

Aggravated DWI is considered a serious criminal offense. If you have been charged with a DWI in New Jersey, it is vital to understand that your future may be at risk. As a result, it is imperative to consult a knowledgeable and experienced New Jersey DWI attorney who can help protect your rights at every step of the way. We are here to answer your questions and address your concerns. To discuss your case in more detail, do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 877-450-8301.

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