Articles Posted in First Offense DWI

In a New Jersey DWI case, the State must prove in municipal court beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the charged offenses. A defendant that is convicted despite insufficient evidence has the right to appeal to the law division. The law division must abide by certain requirements on review, and if it does not, its decision may be overruled as well. In a recent opinion, a New Jersey court discussed the law division’s obligations in evaluating a DWI defendant’s appeal in a case in which the defendant argued the State’s evidence was inadequate to prove his guilt.  If you are charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey, it is critical to understand your rights, and you should meet with a seasoned New Jersey DWI defense attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of DWI. He appealed to the law division, and his conviction was affirmed. The case then went through numerous rounds of appeals and remands, each of which resulted in rulings affirming his conviction. He appealed his conviction to the Superior Court a third time, arguing in part that the law division erred in applying an appellate standard instead of conducting the de novo analysis which was required by law. The court agreed and once again remanded the matter to the law division for review.

Standard of Review on DWI Appeals

Under New Jersey law, when a defendant appeals from a conviction in a municipal court, the law division must defer to the municipal court’s credibility findings but must otherwise develop its own conclusions of law and findings of fact. In other words, the law division is required to review the evidence anew, or de novo, based on the record developed in the municipal court while giving due regard to the ability of the municipal court judge to assess the credibility of the witnesses. Continue reading

People charged with DWI offenses have the right to choose whether to testify in their own defense. While in some instances, such testimony may exonerate a defendant, in others, it may impair a defendant’s credibility and defenses, and it is prudent for the defendant to remain silent. In a recent opinion, a New Jersey court discussed whether a defendant charged with numerous DWI crimes was denied the right to a fair trial due to his attorney’s suggestion that he refrain from testifying. If you live in New Jersey and are faced with accusations that you committed a DWI crime, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorney regarding your rights.

The Alleged Crime

It is alleged that the defendant was drinking in a bar with friends when he began bragging about how fast his car could go. He and a friend left the bar to go to a nearby convenience store. They intended to return to the bar, but the defendant accelerated and lost control, and the car crashed. The friend died due to his injuries. A toxicology report subsequently revealed the defendant’s BAC to be almost twice the legal limit at the time of the accident.

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including assault by auto by driving while intoxicated. The defendant was convicted as charged, after which he filed a motion for post-conviction relief, arguing in part that he was denied the right to a fair trial due to the fact he was mis-advised by his attorney not to testify on his own behalf. The court denied his motion, and the defendant appealed. Continue reading

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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