First Offense. A first-offense DWI carries with it significant penalties that impact an offender in many ways. A drunk driving conviction can be expensive in both the long and short term. The fines for a first offense DWI range from $250 to $400 if the offender’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is between 0.08% and 0.10%. However these fines will be increased to a range of $300 to $500 if the offender’s BAC exceeds .10%. Our attorneys have access to the Alcotest 7110 machine, the breathalyzer used by police, in our office and have been successful many times at getting breath test results suppressed in court. This ability allows us to greatly mitigate the penalties of a first offense DWI for our clients. When a first offender has a BAC under 0.15%, the judge can use discretion when deciding whether or not to include an ignition interlock device in the sentence. A reading over 0.15% makes the inclusion of such a device mandatory. A refusal to take a breath test during a DWI stop is an additional charge, N.J.S 39:4-50.4a, and mandates the inclusion of an interlock device in the first-offender’s sentence. Interlock devices require that the operator of a motor vehicle produce a breath sample with a BAC below a certain preset limit in order to start the engine. The device also requires intermittent samples be provided during operation of the vehicle. This device can be expensive and inconvenient, but can be avoided if breath test results are suppressed.
Although a first offense drunk driving conviction can possibly carry a sentence of up to thirty (30) days in jail, this is often avoidable with a qualified defense attorney acting as an advocate. This jail term can often be replaced by participation in a program at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC). The Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) also imposes a mandatory $1,000 surcharge every year for three years. This price must be paid in full in order to attain a reinstated license at the end of the period of suspension. Judges have also taken to including “visitation programs”, which are available for all sentences but are most often employed for offenders under the age of 21. This program requires that an offender visit victims of drunken driving accidents. The consequences of a first-offense DWI are severe and should be taken very seriously. Acquiring a qualified DWI Defense Attorney can make a critical difference in the penalties imposed. Our attorneys are among the most qualified in the state and have the credentials to prove it.
Second Offense. Conviction for a second offense carries more serious penalties, as is expected. Although the MVC surcharge remains the same (i.e. $1,000 a year for three years), the fine increases to $500 to $1,000. Second offenders are also required to complete thirty (30) days of community service. A second offense drunk driving conviction also mandates that the offender serve a period of incarceration between two (2) and ninety (90) days. However this period of incarceration need not necessarily be served in a jail, and can instead be fulfilled during a 48-hour stay at the Intoxicated Driver’s Resource Center (IDRC), provided the court is persuaded to grant this relief. The minimum jail term is increased, however, where personal injury was caused or where other unique circumstances apply. A 2nd offense DWI also results a mandatory two (2) year loss of license. Installation of an ignition interlock for a period of one (1) to three (3) years is mandatory upon a second conviction.
Third or Subsequent Offense. A conviction for a third or subsequent DWI offense carries significantly penalties. The loss of license is increased to ten (10) years. The third offense also requires a 1-3 year period with an ignition interlock device once the term of license suspension has elapsed (i.e. license is restored). The fine is automatically $1,000. Third or subsequent offenses also increase the MVC surcharge to $1,500 per year for three years. The jail term increases to a mandatory 180 days. The court may, however, allow up to 90 days of this sentence to be served in an in-patitent rehabilitation facility. Given the severity of third offense penalties, we believe that representation by a skilled DWI defense lawyer is imperative. Someone with this level expertise knows how to not only attack the state’s third offense case but also how to file motions for post-conviction relief to set aside and/or modify prior convictions.
If you or a loved one is facing a drunk driving charge and is interested in reducing or eliminating a license suspension, jail, fines or some other penalty, call the Law Offices of Jonathan Marshall. We are ready to get to work for you.