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.
While some would not hesitate to contact a qualified attorney regarding a drunk driving summons, other will continue to wonder if there is a good reason to call a DWI-DUI lawyer. From our perspective, there are number of important reasons to a fight drunken driving charge in the Garden State. While a motorist may have some nagging feeling about the nature of the arrest, a skilled DWI defense lawyer can pinpoint key factors that might lead to a reduction in the charge or having the case dismissed altogether.
Facts are key. Are there potential issues with the state’s case? The way in which the arrest was conducted; how any field sobriety tests were administered and the manner in which the Breathalyzer tests were carried out. Even the circumstances surrounding the initial traffic stop and the reasons stated for that stop can have a very important bearing on the outcome of a motorist’s drunk driving case. A qualified attorney with years of experience in defending individuals can be of great service in challenging the evidence presented by a municipal prosecutor.
Of course, the best reason to fight any DWI or drug DUI charge is that those individuals who aggressively challenge the police and the prosecutor’s assertions may have a chance at completely avoiding any negative consequences. You cannot say that about those people who hang back and decide to plead guilty because they believe it’s not worth the fight or that they couldn’t win if they tried. One thing is for certain, those plead guilty right out of the gate have a 100-percent chance of being convicted of DWI or DUI.
One more argument for why drivers should seriously consider fighting a drunken driving summons: Regardless of whether this is your first offense or one of several from before, it is critical to avoid being convicted in any event because any subsequent drinking and driving case looks at prior convictions when determining penalties. Naturally, every motorist who has been stopped for the very first time for DWI believes, in fact, is almost certain that it will never happen again. Interestingly, however, every driver who gets picked up for DWI a second time eventually regrets not having fought the first one.
In the end, there should never be a question of whether or not it is worth the effort to fight a first-time DWI-DUI charge here in New Jersey. The outcome may not be known right away, but not fighting will always guarantee a conviction. However, if the outcome is favorable, which it can often be, then a dismissal or reduction in the charges is better than a full conviction. And if a dismissal is the result, any future arrest will, again, be just the first.
Because of the significant monetary expense tied to a DWI or drug DUI conviction, fines, fees and assessments can total in the thousands of dollars, depending on the circumstances and the defendant’s history of prior convictions. Auto insurance surcharges are some of the more costly and long-lasting monetary penalties that convicted drunk drivers experience, and these are not just a one-time cost, but over multiple years.
As can be seen, the downside to not fighting a drunken driving charge is often worse than calling an experienced attorney and going into court prepared. Skilled DWI-DUI lawyers have years of trial experience defending motorists who find themselves facing a serious offense and potentially costly consequences. There are many excellent reasons to aggressively challenge the state, but few good ones not to do anything, except plead guilty.