Articles Posted in Third or Subsequent Offense DWI

In many instances in which a defendant is charged with a DWI offense, the key disputed issue is whether the defendant actually operated a vehicle while intoxicated. Thus, in many cases, the prosecution will seek to introduce circumstantial evidence that suggests the defendant was driving prior to his or her arrest. Any court considering what evidence should be admitted must conduct a balancing test between whether the evidence is relevant or unduly prejudicial. However, the introduction of inappropriate evidence may constitute a violation of the defendant’s rights. This was evidenced in a recent case in which the court overturned a verdict convicting the defendant of multiple DWI related crimes due to the admission of inappropriate hearsay evidence. If you are a resident of New Jersey currently faced with DWI charges, it is important to retain an assertive New Jersey DWI defense attorney who will fight to protect your rights.

The Defendant’s Charges and Convictions

It is reported that the defendant was charged with driving during a license suspension for a second or subsequent DWI, DWI, and numerous other traffic offenses. The main issue at trial was whether the defendant actually operated the vehicle prior to his arrest. The defendant presented testimony from his wife that she was driving and left the defendant by the side of the road after an argument. Conversely, the State presented testimony from the arresting officer that he was dispatched after a 911 call reporting that an intoxicated male had crashed his vehicle and was stuck on the side of the road.

Following the trial, the defendant was convicted of all counts and sentenced to 365 days in jail for the crime of driving with a suspended license and 180 days in jail for the DWI. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in admitting hearsay testimony regarding the 911 call. Upon review, the appellate court agreed, finding the testimony was hearsay and unduly prejudicial, and reversed the defendant’s convictions. Continue reading

Multiple DWI convictions can result in severe consequences, including the loss of a driver’s license. Thus, it is prudent for anyone charged with DWI to consult an attorney to discuss which defenses may be available to help avoid a conviction or reduce any penalties. This was demonstrated in a recent case, in which a defendant sought to appeal a prior DWI conviction that was entered following a hearing during which he was not represented by counsel. If you were recently charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey, a trusted New Jersey DWI defense attorney can discuss the steps that you can take to protect your rights.

Facts of the Underlying Case

The defendant was arrested and charged with DWI in 2003. He appeared before the court without counsel and entered a guilty plea. During the hearing, the judge advised the defendant of the consequences of entering a guilty plea and explained the impact of multiple convictions. The judge did not advise the defendant, however, that he had the right to request that the court appoint an attorney to defend him if he could not afford to retain counsel. The defendant entered a guilty plea, regardless. The defendant was subsequently charged with and convicted of two other DWI crimes. For his third offense, he received a 10-year license suspension.

In 2016, the defendant was arrested for operating a vehicle with a license that was suspended for a second or subsequent DWI conviction. The defendant was found guilty. Prior to sentencing, he filed a motion to withdraw his 2003 guilty plea. The municipal court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed. Following a trial before the Law Division, the defendant’s appeal was denied, and he was sentenced to 364 days in prison. He then appealed the denial of his appeal and his sentence.

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You probably already know that being convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New Jersey can seriously derail almost every aspect of your life. If you or someone you love is facing DWI charges, you should immediately contact a trusted and experienced New Jersey DWI attorney. With years of experience, we understand how to fight these charges and minimize the chances of a conviction. We also understand this is an extremely stressful time for you, which is why we are committed to handling this matter with the utmost sensitivity and urgency.

An ex-pro wrestler by the name of “Sunny” was recently hit with her sixth drunk driving charge. Officers say 46-year-old Tamara Sytch, who is in the World Wrestling Hall of Fame, had stopped her vehicle in Seaside Heights on Saturday evening after she drove in the wrong direction on a one-way street. She was charged with a DWI and police soon discovered that she also had a suspended driver’s license and two other active warrants. Sytch was released from jail in October after serving eight months for multiple DWI offenses.

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Although many people who find themselves arrested and charged with a drunken driving offense may generally be lumped into the first-and-old-time category, there is a portion of the driving public, albeit a smaller group, who end up with second- and third-time offenses to deal with. When it comes to DWI and drug DUI arrests, those with multiple convictions definitely have a harder time of it in terms of sentencing and penalties.

Sad to say, but those motorists who find themselves the recipients of frequent drunken driving summonses can often end up with onerous monetary penalties and significant jail time if convicted of a third or subsequent DWI charge. Most drivers, as well as the public at large, find it surprising that those with a couple DWIs under their belt may actually tempt fate and drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs or an illegal substance (CDS); however, regardless of why a person ends up arrested for DWI-DUI after already being convicted in the past of similar charges, the bottom line is that a competent drunk driving defense is all the more important for such individuals.

As Garden State DWI-DUI defense attorneys, my colleagues and I make it our business to defend those people who feel they were unjustly accused, or that the potential penalties following another conviction would be too much to bear. Whether my legal staff handles a first-time DWI case or one involving a second- or third-time charge, we know the importance of thorough preparation when fighting for our clients. In fact, it is safe to say that most individuals facing potentially heavy fines and other penalties feel they need a lawyer skilled in drunk driving defense to avoid serious consequences.
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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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Here in New Jersey, being arrested for DWI or driving under the influence of alcohol is different from many states because Garden State motorists accused of impaired driving are not permitted a trial by jury. Instead, drivers who have been charged with DWI or drug DUI will get a court trial with only a judge to decide the defendant’s guilt or innocence. As with many aspects of the legal system, there are pluses and minuses associated with a non-jury trial.

As experienced DUI-DWI defense attorneys, my colleagues and I know that with the lack of a jury trial, a defendant who is found guilty by a New Jersey municipal court judge in a standard drunk driving trial will usually be able to challenge that decision in a high court under the legal concept known as a “de novo appeal.” In such instances, the de novo appeal for a New Jersey DWI conviction will usually be heard by a second, county level Superior Court judge.

Under our system of laws, an appeal is usually filed by one of the two parties following a particular legal outcome arrived at by either a judge or jury, and which typically seeks a formal change to an official court decision. In broad terms, in a typical de novo appeal, the judge will review the trial transcripts from the original hearing, as well as listen to additional arguments from the defendant’s lawyer and the attorneys from the prosecutor’s office that originally filed the charges against the motorist.
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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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There are many good reasons to retain the services of a qualified drunk driving defense attorney — facing a possible third conviction for driving while intoxicated is definitely one situation that almost demands the assistance of a skilled legal professional. Yet for many people, the perceived expense of hiring a lawyer may make them wonder if it is cost-effective for a first-time offense. While there may be some argument for going it alone, this strategy rarely works out for most people in the long run.

For instance, some motorists who have been slapped with a summons for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated believe, incorrectly, that plea bargaining on a DWI or drug DUI charge is still possible. Unfortunately, choosing to speak directly to a municipal prosecutor simply will not work. This is because every municipal prosecutor’s office in the Garden States has been precluded by the New Jersey Attorney General from entering into any plea agreement with an accused drunk driver.

For the above-mentioned reason alone, it is often critical for anyone facing the stiff penalties that can come from a drunken driving conviction to seriously consider retaining an experienced DWI-DUI defense lawyer. With years of legal training and courtroom experience, the professional legal experts at my law firm have the background that few, if any, laypeople possess. In fact, my legal staff has nearly 100 years of combined criminal and civil litigation experience.
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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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