Articles Posted in Third or Subsequent Offense DWI

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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Here in the Garden State, cases involving motorists who have been charged with DWI can be prosecuted in several ways. One of the more common approaches used by municipal prosecutors includes charges of driving under the influence based on a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. This type of case involves what is known in legal circles as a “per se” charge. As a well-established legal firm, my colleagues and I have nearly 100 years of collective trial law experience, including drunk driving and drug DUI defense of cases base on per se evidence.

In situations of drivers being charged for operating a motor vehicle while impaired based on a BAC measurement of 0.08 percent or above, those per se DWI charges refer to the legal definition, that is, the driver’s actions were inherently illegal. The New Jersey legal statutes essentially make driving with any BAC over the 0.08-percent limit an unlawful act. The per se aspect essentially says that the circumstances surrounding how or why the driver became intoxicated is not relevant to the prosecution of the offense.

Because per se DWI charges do not require extrinsic proof of any surrounding circumstances, it is much easier to prosecute a driver based solely on measurement of blood-alcohol content than other more subjective evidence, such as results from a roadside sobriety field test, etc. Drunk driving, from a per se standpoint, is essentially a chargeable offense made so by New Jersey statute. This is not exclusive to New Jersey, as many other states also have laws that make driving with a certain level of alcohol in one’s system illegal per se.
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Generally speaking, the police are not too selective when it comes to stopping motorists on New Jersey parkways and interstates, city streets and rural routes for any number of traffic offenses and vehicle-related infractions. Whether any one of these routine police stops develops into a drunken driving arrest has much to do with the observations that the officer in charge makes during the stop and whether or not the driver has actually consumed an alcoholic beverage recently.

As Garden State residents already know, the focus on anti-drunk driving enforcement has resulted in frequent DWI awareness campaigns tied together with enhanced anti-drunken driving police activities, such as saturation patrols and roadside sobriety checkpoints. Ultimately, most anyone who travels on New Jersey roadways while under the influence of alcohol or drugs may find themselves on the receiving end of a DWI or drug DUI summons with the attendant risk of heavy fines and other penalties.

Most anyone who drives a motor vehicle here, or anywhere across the country, likely understands that with police traffic enforcement comes the potential for drunken driving arrests. Few, if any, people are immune from being stopped by a traffic cop for even the smallest offense or most minor of infractions. Quite often, arrests of everyday men and women can include some from the ranks of the rich and famous.
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Compounding any traffic offense with an injury accident is never a good situation. As a former municipal prosecutor, and now a professional drunk driving defense attorney, I understand the desire by police officers and our court system to punish motorists convicted of DWI or drug DUI. When an automobile collision is also involved, the stakes increase by a like amount.

As New Jersey drunken driving defense lawyers, my colleagues and I are ready and willing to assist those individuals accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs; even illicit substances like cocaine, meth and marijuana. We do know that our job will be complicated when a DWI-related car, truck or motorcycle wreck also involves a serious injury or death. My law firm has represented many clients who have been hit with an impaired driving charge in addition to possible vehicular assault.

Here in the Garden State, local and state police take a very dim view of motorists who even have the slightest appearance of intoxication. The same goes for the courts. New Jersey DWI law provides for stiff penalties for those convicted of intoxicated driving. One of the numerous penalties is the loss of driving privileges for a period of time. Considering the value that most people place on their mobility and personal independence vis-à-vis their automobile, license suspension can be a serious hardship.
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Addiction of every kind has reached major proportions all across the United States. Whether it is prescription or illegal drugs, gambling, Internet, video games or simply working excessive hours at the office or smoking too many cigarettes, an addiction of most any kind can complicate one’s life and cause trouble with one’s personal and professional relationships. But however it may be manifested, it would seem that more and more people are giving in to their desires.

It is easy to see how some pastimes or vices can become obsessions for many individuals. To allow one’s time to be usurped by one or more obsessive pursuits can be a very difficult situation, but when that obsession, or addiction, leads to serious legal problems, there really is no good reason to ignore the problem any longer. As New Jersey drunk driving defense experts, we have seen the results of alcohol and drug addiction, the results of which are not usually good.

Not surprisingly, over indulgence in drinking alcohol could be called the grandfather of all addictions, having been around for thousands of years before video games, online pornography and other pursuits. While we will leave it up to others to fill in the list, there is much to be said about the addiction that alcohol can have on certain people and the incidence of drunk driving by those self-same individuals.
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