In a couple of weeks we’ll be heading into not just another big holiday weekend, but the traditional start of the summer. The Memorial Day weekend is one those national holidays that brings out the crowds to many popular venues throughout the Garden State. With the reopening of large portions of the Jersey Shore following the devastation that was Hurricane Sandy, no doubt many people will be celebrating.
But as we in the legal profession know — especially firms like ours that defend individuals charged with drunken driving — the holidays are also a time when state police and local law enforcement professionals amp up their anti-DWI road patrols and roadside sobriety checkpoints. This why areas throughout the state will likely have enhanced drunk driving enforcement in place as Memorial Day draws closer, with campaigns like the “Click It or Ticket,” and other DWI-DUI awareness efforts.
As skilled New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, we know that even for a first-time drunken driving offense it is better to fight than knuckle under and plead guilty. The reason is that even a one-time DWI conviction can result in some stiff fines and other penalties. This doesn’t even factor in the effect that an earlier conviction will have should a driver find himself charged again with DWI within a short period of time.
For the first-time DWI-DUI offender, and any subsequent arrests for that matter, there is no such thing as a plea bargain. So one can be as pleasant as one likes, but it is rare to find leniency from the courts when it comes to drinking and driving in the Garden State. What this means is that if convicted on DWI charges, first-timers can face a range of fines and penalties based on his or her measured blood-alcohol content (BAC).
For instance, the potential penalties for a first drunk driving conviction based on a BAC of between 0.08 and 0.10 percent, one could be looking at up to a three-month driver’s license suspension as well as fines totally upward of $400. This is in addition to a possible 30-day maximum jail sentence. If your BAC was above 0.10 percent, you might be facing up to a 12-month suspension of your driving privileges, up to $500 in fines and upward 30 days in jail. If those figures don’t phase some out there, consider that a driver convicted of DWI-DUI will end up paying much more in elevated insurance premiums once he or she is allowed to drive again.
All of this can come from a drunken driving arrest tied to one of the numerous traffic safety enforcement campaigns like Click It or Ticket. While not strictly an anti-DWI-DUI effort, Click It or Ticket has been known to net drunk drivers as well as those who are not wearing their seatbelt.
According to news reports, municipalities like the Franklin Lakes area will be putting their police departments to work cracking down on drivers and passengers who are not wearing their seatbelts. Beginning on May 20 and wrapping up on June 2, the Click It or Ticket campaign will be focused on seatbelt enforcement, but as seasoned drunk driving defense attorneys, we also know that it will provide numerous opportunities for police to observe motorists for signs of intoxication or impairment.
The numbers tell the story. Last year, during the 2012 Click It or Ticket initiative, officers from more than 400 police departments gave out almost 30,000 seatbelt citations, close to 5,000 speeding tickets and arrested more than 850 motorists on suspicion of DWI. In Franklin Lakes alone there were more than 300 summonses issued during the campaign, including 12 for speeding, three for drunk driving and two for reckless driving. Bottom line, drive safe, drive sober and avoid the complication of a summertime traffic stop.
‘Click it or Ticket’ Returns to Franklin Lakes, Patch.com, May 8, 2013