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.