Articles Posted in First Offense DWI

Mississippi has added its name to the list of states now requiring ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for all DWI offenders, even first-time convicted drunken drivers. New Jersey is waiting in the wings right now, as legislators in Trenton hash things out regarding the state’s mandatory IID law. While the debate regarding IIDs has come from both sides of the aisle, some still feel that the Garden State’s approach to drunk drivers may be a little too accommodating.

When it comes to potential changes in New Jersey’s DWI laws, the proposed change to a “brief” 10-day license suspension, plus immediate and mandatory installation of an IID post-conviction has been regarded as a better solution to the current situation, which requires several months’ worth of suspension time that many argue has the potential to cause serious career, family and financial repercussions while not fully addressing the very real issue of convicted DWI offenders taking to the street sans driver’s license.

As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, my firm has seen more than enough instances of otherwise law-abiding motorists being stripped of their driving privileges as punishment for even a first-time indiscretion. We fully understand the risks and physical dangers of driving while impaired, but more and more people are beginning to accept the potential changes in our drunk driving laws to include mandatory IIDs in lieu of the rather strict punitive measures currently required by the New Jersey legal statutes.
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As Garden State DWI-DUI defense attorneys, my colleagues and I strive to help individuals who have been charged with drunken driving or hit with a drug DUI summons, among other alcohol- or drug-related driving offenses. While some people may not understand the importance of preparation prior to a DWI hearing, it is safe to say that most individuals facing some potentially hefty fines and other costs of a possible DWI or DUI conviction will find it important to use discretion when taking part in their drunk driving hearing. Others, sadly, will not.

This last point was illustrated quite clearly after we read of a 47-year-old out-of-state woman who apparently distinguished herself in a less than flattering way when she allegedly showed up to her DWI hearing while she was intoxicated. According to news reports, the Pennsylvania driver had already received a traffic ticket for driving under the influence of alcohol; yet, when she arrived at the courtroom, she was reportedly impaired by alcohol yet again.

Based on the news article we read, the defendant was “highly intoxicated” at the time she arrived by taxi and eventually stepped foot into the office of the district judge for her arraignment on earlier charges of DWI, as well as other related traffic offenses from a police stop in late May this year. The woman was not only reportedly drunk, but an hour late as well, which as anyone can understand would in and of itself be unacceptable barring an extreme circumstance beyond the defendant’s control.
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For those individuals who find themselves on the wrong side of the law, that is, a motorist who has been arrested for a drunken driving offense, the immediate issue at hand is often trying to locate a competent DWI-DUI attorney to represent oneself against the local municipal prosecutor who is pressing the charges against him. To put it in simple terms, if your turn in the DWI barrel has come, now is the time for action, not later.

As Garden State drunk driving attorneys, my colleagues and I have a very good track record of defending motorists who have been charged with some kind of impaired driving. Whether these accusations involve the consumption of alcohol or the use of legal narcotic medications, or even illegal substances, the need for a qualified legal professional is always a priority. Let it be said at this juncture that my firm in no way condones any kind of impaired operation of a motor vehicle, be it a car, commercial truck, motorcycle or watercraft. From our point of view, the best defense is a good offense, and the best way to avoid a DWI or DUI is to avoid drinking or taking drugs any time one expects to be driving on New Jersey roadways.

As recognized experts in the field, my legal team gets a lot of questions from prospective clients who are just beginning to learn about the intricacies of DWI law. In the interests of edifying our readers, we feel that learning something now about drunk driving defense may come in handy in the future, especially if someone finds himself in a difficult situation involving a drunk driving arrest.
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For anyone arrested on a drunk driving offense, the immediate issue is usually finding a good lawyer to help defend against the state’s prosecution of those charges. In short, your time has come and action should be taken to seek legal counsel regarding one’s DUI-DWI case. For the balance of the people out there who may be wondering about the pros and cons of a DWI arrest and possible conviction, it may be a good idea to consider the worst-case scenario and then go backward from there.

As New Jersey DWI attorneys, my law firm does defend many individuals who have been accused of impaired driving — either through the use of alcohol or the taking of legal narcotic medications (perhaps even the taking of illicit drugs) — but we in no way condone intoxicated vehicle operation or driving a car, truck or motorcycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The best way to avoid a DWI or drug DUI is to avoid consuming any amount of alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Here in the Garden State few motorists have anything good to look forward to if a DWI-DUI conviction is the ultimate result. In addition to the often thousands of dollars in fines, fees and insurance premium increases, accused drunk drivers should also expect the installation of an ignition interlock device on their car once their driving privileges have been restored.
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Although the majority of drivers here in New Jersey are likely aware of the more immediate effects of a drunken driving arrest and conviction — such as license suspension, fines, insurance premium assessments and even jail time — fewer people have considered the longer-term effects of a DWI-DUI. As Garden State trial lawyers and experts in the area of drunken driving defense, my legal team is well aware of the often more serious, and possibly life-altering effects of a DWI or drug DUI conviction.

While the average motorist would not likely consider who critical his or her driver’s license is to daily life, those with jobs that require the ability to drive, not just to and from work, but drive a vehicle during the course of their work day. For those individuals who rely on their personal driver’s license (not to mention a commercial driver’s license, or CDL) to make a living, there could be very dire consequences should they be arrested for drunken driving or drug-impaired vehicle operation.

For anyone whose job involves driving, the thought of losing one’s job may only come to the fore when he or she sees the flashing lights of a police cruiser in the rearview mirror. The fact is, when all is going well, most people never take into account the downside of a drunk driving arrest. But as the inevitable hearing date draws nearer, it often becomes more and more evident that the services of an experienced DWI-DUI defense attorney may be needed.
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Poised to testify in Trenton before the State Legislature’s Assembly Appropriations Committee, representatives from the anti-drunken driving group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, will state the case for pending legislation that could make ignition interlock devices (IIDs) mandatory for all convicted drivers regardless of prior convictions. The presentation by MADD is scheduled for tomorrow and is expected to echo those who have been pushing for changes to current state law to include the mandatory use of IIDs.

The proposed legislation, A 1368, which was introduced by Assemblywoman Linda Stender, would require ignition interlocks for every convicted drunk drivers, even first-offenders. While IIDs can be inconvenient and potentially embarrassing when installed on an individual’s vehicle, the legislation reportedly also includes changes to the license suspension requirements for those convicted of DWI.

As Garden State drunk driving defense attorneys, my colleagues and I know very well the serious burden that New Jersey’s current DWI-DUI statutes places on those individuals convicted of drunken drivers by requiring mandatory suspension of driving privileges for three months or more, depending on the number of prior convictions. Many argue that having a mandatory IID installation for every convicted offender is a small price to pay for NOT losing one’s driver’s license.
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Arguments for and against mandatory ignition interlock devices, or IIDs as they are sometimes called, have been going on for years. Whether these devices, or the threat of having them installed on one’s car or truck, can be beneficial to public safety; or even if they provide sufficient deterrent against repeat DWIs is certainly a subject that has fueled hot debate in the area of drunk driving law. As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense lawyers, we can understand both sides of the argument.

But even as the question of effectiveness lingers regarding the use of court-ordered ignition interlock devices, a future where the law requires every motorist convicted of DWI in the Garden State to have an IID installed has made for lively discussion. In fact, just like New Jersey, many states have already adopted IIDs as a way to combat recidivist DWIs. The approach to making them mandatory for first-time offenders has also taken hold.

For anyone still unaware of what the use of these devices is supposed to accomplish, the goal is to stop newly convicted drunk drivers from taking the road in an intoxicated state by making sure that a person who has consumed alcohol recently cannot start his or her car. To do this, and IID features a handheld breath-alcohol tester tied to an electronic control unit that either allows the vehicle to be started or prevents ignition based on a predetermined blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold.
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Everyone who holds a New Jersey driver’s license should know that a driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) charge is nothing to take lightly. In fact, drunken driving and drug DUI charges can carry with them severe consequences if a motorist is found guilty in a court of law. As Garden State drunk driving defense attorneys, my legal team is experienced in representing drivers who have been accused of these and other serious motor vehicle-related offenses.

One area of DWI law pertains to those drivers who have not yet reached legal drinking age, but for whatever reason have been charged with drunken driving. A person under the age of 21 can be convicted of DWI with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of just 0.01 percent or more. This may seem like a rather harsh lower limit (especially when compared to the “normal” 0.08 percent for drivers 21 years of age or over), however this is the law and anyone who is underage and driving should seriously consider the consequences of being caught with even this small amount of alcohol in their system.

The penalties for underage DWI are listed in the New Jersey legal statutes (under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14). The law states that any person under legal drinking age who operates a car, truck or motorcycle with a BAC of 0.01 percent, but below 0.08 percent shall forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle in New Jersey. This also applies to individuals who have not yet attained their operator’s license, since the statute specifically states that someone found to have an illegal amount of alcohol in his or her bloodstream shall be prohibited from obtaining a driver’s license for between 30 days to three months.
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For the average motorist, a conviction for even a first-offense DWI can represent a serious hit to one’s pocketbook. Here in the Garden State, drivers who have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol can face fines upward of $500, depending on the defendant’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). Yet, these fines are hardly the worst penalties that an individual can experience if convicted for drunken driving; considering the substantial and long-term mandatory increases in one’s insurance premiums, the financial pain of a DWI or drug DUI guilty verdict can be extended for several years beyond any initial conviction.

Monetary penalties aside, there is always the possibility of jail time, which can be significant depending on the offense. While even a first-time drunk driving offender can face jail time — upward of 30 days — this undesirable penalty can often be avoided when choosing an experienced DWI defense lawyer to act as one’s legal representative. It is not uncommon, in such instances, for a convicted drunken driver to be ordered by the court to participate in a program at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC).

Convictions for second- and third-time offenses brings even more serious penalties, with fines upward of $1,000 and a required 30-day stint of community service. Following a conviction for a second offense, there is a mandatory period of incarceration ranging from two days to three months. It is important to note, however, that “incarceration” does not necessarily mean jail time here in the Garden State; a skilled DWI attorney can sometimes persuade the court to substitute a stay at the IDRC in place of a jail term. Note that when personal injury or some other unique circumstance is connected with a DWI charge, jail time can often be unavoidable following a possible conviction.
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While few people who take the initiative and walk into our law offices ever ask the question, there are many more who may choose not to contact us based on some different answer to that same query. So, really, why should anyone bother trying to fight a drunk driving charge? Don’t the police have the upper hand? Isn’t it difficult to contest the validity of the prosecution’s evidence? And how can the average person know where to start if he or she even entertains the idea of challenging a drunken driving charge?

As experienced New Jersey trial lawyers, we’ve seen enough DWI and drug DUI cases to know that unless an accused motorists does make that concerted effort to fight for his or her day in court, they will never know what could have been if they hadn’t accepted a guilty plea and the penalty consequences that ultimately follow. By not choosing to fight a DWI, drug DUI, or breath test refusal charge, a person essentially places all the power in the hands of the police and the prosecutor’s office.

At this point we will add that the consequences don’t simply mean the fines and court fees, but they also entail insurance premium increases for years to come and the inevitable license suspension and all of the hassle and aggravation that can create. And let’s not forget the ordering of an ignition interlock device to be installed on the accused’s vehicle once his or her license is restores; that alone can prove to be embarrassing and inconvenient.
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