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In New Jersey, DWI cases typically proceed in municipal court. In some instances, though, a DWI matter will fall under the jurisdiction of the Superior Court, like in cases in which the defendant causes an accident that results in serious injuries. Recently, a New Jersey court set forth an opinion addressing the discrete issue of whether a DWI case in which the defendant is injured in an accident he caused should proceed in front of the Superior Court, in a case in which the defendant pleaded guilty to a third offense DWI. If you are accused of a DWI crime, it is advisable to speak to a seasoned New Jersey DWI defense attorney to assess your rights.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that in 2007, the defendant entered a guilty plea to the charge of DWI as a subsequent offender, which arose out of a one-car accident. The defendant, who sustained injuries in the accident, was driving alone. The court sentenced him to a 10-year license suspension to run consecutively to a 10-year suspension that began in 2006. In 2018, the defendant moved to vacate his guilty plea. The municipal court granted the motion but determined that in accordance with a New Jersey statute, the Superior Court had the sole right to exercise jurisdiction over the matter. The State appealed, and the court reinstated the defendant’s guilty plea. The defendant then appealed, arguing the lower courts misapplied the applicable law.

Jurisdiction Over DWI Cases

On appeal, the appellate court explained that the plain language of the relevant law clearly stated that DWI-related accidents involving serious injuries fall within the jurisdiction of the Superior Court, not the municipal court. The appellate court noted, though, that the statute did not provide any guidance as to whether it applied to the defendant’s DWI charge, as he was the only person injured in the crash and was not charged with any offense that would invoke the jurisdiction of the Superior Court. Continue reading

Under New Jersey law, licensed drivers who are suspected of DWI are required to submit to breath tests, and if they refuse, they can be charged with a crime in addition to facing DWI charges. The State must prove each element of a defendant’s refusal to submit to a breath test to obtain a conviction, and if they do not, a finding of guilt may be unjust. Recently, a New Jersey court issued an opinion discussing the elements of refusal and the State’s burden of proof in a case in which the defendant unsuccessfully appealed her conviction. If you are faced with a charge of refusal to submit to a breath test, it is prudent to meet with a capable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to determine your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the police responded to a disturbance at a New Jersey courtroom where the defendant was attending a custody hearing. When they arrived, they observed the defendant yelling obscenities and screaming at other officers. They then saw the defendant in the courtroom and noticed she appeared to be intoxicated. The police worried she would drive while intoxicated and followed her to the parking lot, where she entered her vehicle and turned on the engine.

Allegedly, she was arrested and transported to the police station, where she stated she would not offer a breath sample. She was advised if she did not,  she could be charged with refusal to submit, but did not provide a sample. She was charged with DWI and refusal to submit. She was found guilty and then appealed, arguing in part that there was insufficient evidence to sustain her conviction. Continue reading

In some cases in which a defendant is charged with a DWI crime, it makes sense to enter a guilty plea. A defendant must weigh the evidence possessed by the State and the potential penalties he or she may face prior to making the decision to admit to guilt, though, as in many cases, the decision cannot be reversed. This was illustrated in a recent New Jersey opinion in which the court assessed a defendant’s petition for post-conviction relief in a DWI case, arising out of the trial court’s refusal to allow him to reverse his guilty plea to a drug DWI offense. If you are charged with driving while intoxicated, it is advisable to speak to a dedicated New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss your rights.

The Defendant’s Trial

It is alleged that the defendant was driving his car when it slid off the road. The police responded to the scene of the accident, after which the defendant admitted to drinking liquid PCP prior to operating the vehicle. He was charged with a DWI crime, which was his second DWI offense, and other crimes. At his plea hearing, the defendant clearly acknowledged that pleading guilty as charged could result in the loss of his license for up to two years and monetary fines.

It is reported that the defendant nonetheless entered a guilty plea. At his sentencing hearing, however, he informally sought to withdraw his plea, stating that a two-year license suspension would be devastating. The court denied his request and imposed monetary penalties and a two-year license suspension on the defendant. He then filed a motion for post-conviction relief. The court denied his motion without a hearing, and he appealed. Continue reading

A DWI conviction can drastically impact a person’s life, causing harm to the individual’s reputation and career prospects. Even if a person charged with DWI has compelling defenses, there is usually a risk that a trial could result in a guilty verdict.  Thus, in some instances, it may be prudent for a person to plead guilty to a lesser offense. This was the path chosen recently by a basketball player at a New Jersey university who was faced with charges of DWI and other offenses and entered into a plea deal. If you are charged with a DWI offense, you may face significant penalties if you are convicted, and it is in your best interest to meet with a knowledgeable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Plea

It is reported that the defendant, a basketball player for a New Jersey University, was stopped by a police officer for failing to stop at a stop sign. When the officer approached the vehicle, he observed that the defendant’s demeanor and smell suggested that he had been drinking alcohol. He submitted to field sobriety testing, which he failed. He was subsequently arrested and charged with DWI, reckless driving, and other traffic offenses. Several months after his arrest, he pleaded guilty to the reckless driving charge, and the DWI offense was dropped by the State. He was sentenced to pay a fine and lost his driver’s license for 60 days.

Penalties for DWI Convictions in New Jersey

In New Jersey, the penalties for a DWI crime vary depending on several factors, including the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, whether the defendant caused an accident or injured anyone during the commission of the offense, and whether he or she has prior DWI convictions. Generally, a person charged with a first time DUI with a BAC under 0.10% faces fines between $250 and $400, increased insurance rates, and the loss of his or her license for three months. A sentence for such an offense may also include jail time up to 30 days, an ignition interlock requirement for up to a year, and mandatory alcohol abuse classes. If the defendant’s BAC was 0.10% or higher, he or she faces stricter penalties, as do people charged with second or subsequent DWI offenses. Conversely, a person convicted of reckless driving typically results in fines and the temporary loss of a license. Continue reading

New Jersey is one of many states that has an implied consent law. This means that if people are stopped for suspicion of DWI, it is presumed under the law that they consent to submit to breath tests, and if they do not, they can be charged with refusal crimes. In a recent New Jersey opinion, a court explained the grounds for charging and convicting a person with refusal in a case in which the defendant argued his conviction was improper because he was charged under the wrong statute. If you are accused of a refusal crime, it is prudent to meet with a skillful New Jersey DWI defense attorney regarding your possible defenses.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is alleged that the defendant was stopped by a police officer, who detected a smell of alcohol from within the vehicle. Upon questioning, the defendant admitted to drinking alcohol. He submitted to field sobriety tests, which he failed, and he was arrested. The defendant was transported to the police station, where the officer read the defendant the statement required by New Jersey law, which informed him of the consequences of refusing to submit to breath tests. The defendant then refused to submit to the breath test twice.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple offenses, including DWI and refusal. Prior to the trial, he filed a motion to dismiss the refusal charge, claiming that the summons was defective because it stated that the defendant violated the implied consent statute rather than the refusal statute. The court denied the motion, and the defendant was found guilty of refusal. He then appealed. Continue reading

Under New Jersey law, motorists are required to submit to breath tests when they are requested by police officers due to suspicion of DWI. People who refuse to provide the police with a breath sample may be charged with the refusal to submit in addition to DWI charges. Recently, a New Jersey court issued an opinion in which it discussed proof of a defendant’s refusal to submit to a breath test. If you are charged with refusing to submit to a breath test or any other DWI related crime, it is advisable to speak to a dependable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to evaluate your potential defenses.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that a police officer noted the defendant was driving erratically. He pulled him over, and when he approached the vehicle, he noted a strong smell of alcohol emanating from the plaintiff’s vehicle. When the officer spoke with the defendant, he observed that his eyes were bloodshot and watery and had droopy lids. Therefore, the officer asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety testing.

Allegedly, the defendant failed the field sobriety tests. He was then arrested and charged with DWI and transported to the police station. He was read a Miranda warning but refused to sign a form indicating he was advised of his rights. He was then advised of the consequences of refusing to submit to a breath test but stated he was not sure if he would provide a sample. After he was advised that he had to give a yes or no answer, he answered no. He was ultimately charged with and convicted of multiple DWI crimes, including refusal to submit, after which he appealed. Continue reading

In a New Jersey DWI case, the State must prove in municipal court beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the charged offenses. A defendant that is convicted despite insufficient evidence has the right to appeal to the law division. The law division must abide by certain requirements on review, and if it does not, its decision may be overruled as well. In a recent opinion, a New Jersey court discussed the law division’s obligations in evaluating a DWI defendant’s appeal in a case in which the defendant argued the State’s evidence was inadequate to prove his guilt.  If you are charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey, it is critical to understand your rights, and you should meet with a seasoned New Jersey DWI defense attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of DWI. He appealed to the law division, and his conviction was affirmed. The case then went through numerous rounds of appeals and remands, each of which resulted in rulings affirming his conviction. He appealed his conviction to the Superior Court a third time, arguing in part that the law division erred in applying an appellate standard instead of conducting the de novo analysis which was required by law. The court agreed and once again remanded the matter to the law division for review.

Standard of Review on DWI Appeals

Under New Jersey law, when a defendant appeals from a conviction in a municipal court, the law division must defer to the municipal court’s credibility findings but must otherwise develop its own conclusions of law and findings of fact. In other words, the law division is required to review the evidence anew, or de novo, based on the record developed in the municipal court while giving due regard to the ability of the municipal court judge to assess the credibility of the witnesses. Continue reading

People charged with DWI offenses have the right to choose whether to testify in their own defense. While in some instances, such testimony may exonerate a defendant, in others, it may impair a defendant’s credibility and defenses, and it is prudent for the defendant to remain silent. In a recent opinion, a New Jersey court discussed whether a defendant charged with numerous DWI crimes was denied the right to a fair trial due to his attorney’s suggestion that he refrain from testifying. If you live in New Jersey and are faced with accusations that you committed a DWI crime, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorney regarding your rights.

The Alleged Crime

It is alleged that the defendant was drinking in a bar with friends when he began bragging about how fast his car could go. He and a friend left the bar to go to a nearby convenience store. They intended to return to the bar, but the defendant accelerated and lost control, and the car crashed. The friend died due to his injuries. A toxicology report subsequently revealed the defendant’s BAC to be almost twice the legal limit at the time of the accident.

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including assault by auto by driving while intoxicated. The defendant was convicted as charged, after which he filed a motion for post-conviction relief, arguing in part that he was denied the right to a fair trial due to the fact he was mis-advised by his attorney not to testify on his own behalf. The court denied his motion, and the defendant appealed. Continue reading

While all DWI charges should be regarded as serious, a charge for a third or subsequent DWI offense can result in significant penalties, including license suspension and jail time. Once a person is convicted of DWI however, trying to get a conviction reversed can be an extremely difficult task. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed the ground for vacating a third DWI conviction in a ruling issued in a matter in which the defendant alleged numerous procedural errors were committed during the investigation of his alleged crime. If you are a New Jersey resident currently facing DWI charges, it is advisable to meet with a dedicated New Jersey DWI defense attorney to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the defendant was stopped by a police officer for driving erratically. When the officer approached the defendant, he noticed he appeared to be intoxicated, in that he smelled like alcohol and had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. The officer asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety tests, which the defendant was unable to complete. The defendant was then transported to the police station for a breath test, but the breathalyzer machine was not working. Allegedly, he was then transferred to a second barracks where he underwent the test, which revealed his BAC to be 0.15%. He was charged with DWI, which was his third offense. He moved to have the results of his breath test deemed inadmissible, which the court denied. He then filed a conditional guilty plea and, after his sentencing hearing, appealed.

Grounds for Vacating a DWI Conviction

Under law, if a driver moves to appeal a DWI conviction in New Jersey issued by a municipal court, the Law Division will make its own factual findings and conclusions of law while deferring to the lower court’s credibility findings. Then, if the Law Division’s findings are appealed to the Superior Court, the court will merely review whether there is adequate credible evidence of the record to support the lower court findings and will not overturn those findings absent a manifest error.

Continue reading

In many DWI cases, it is prudent for a defendant to enter into a plea agreement in hopes of receiving a lesser sentence. Typically, the court will go to great lengths to advise the defendant of the potential penalties associated with entering a guilty plea, to make sure the defendant is making a knowledgeable and informed decision. This is because if a defendant was not fully apprised of the potential consequences of pleading guilty prior to entering a plea, it can be grounds for vacating a conviction.  In a recent opinion, a New Jersey court discussed what a defendant seeking post-conviction relief in a DWI case must establish to vacate a guilty plea. If you live in New Jersey and are charged with a DWI offense, it is important to talk to a knowledgeable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to determine what penalties you may face.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that, following a police stop, the defendant was charged with numerous offenses, including driving while intoxicated (DWI). The defendant opted to enter into a plea agreement. Prior to the defendant entering his plea, the defendant’s attorney read him the plea form, and the trial judge asked him if he understood its terms. The defendant explained that he understood the mandatory fines and jail sentences for his DWI charge, that he could be sentenced to the maximum penalties, and that although he could request concurrent sentences, his request may be denied.

It is alleged that the defendant affirmed that no other representations or promises had been made to him by his attorney or any other person. After the defendant entered his guilty plea, he requested that his sentence be postponed for personal reasons. His request was denied, and he was sentenced to 180 days imprisonment for the DWI conviction and eight years imprisonment for other crimes. He then filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing he was advised he would not face the maximum sentence and could serve a suspended sentence. The defendant filed numerous motions for post-conviction relief, which were denied. The defendant then filed a motion for post-conviction relief seven years after he was convicted. His motion was denied, and he appealed. Continue reading

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