Here in the Garden State, our courts are full of drunk driving and drug DUI cases being prosecuted by any number of municipal and state attorneys angling to get a conviction the fastest and easiest way that they can. As New Jersey DWI-DUI defense lawyers I and my staff of skilled trial attorneys know that there is no better way to end up paying huge fines and other statutory penalties than to roll over and admit guilt without ever attempting to fight the state’s accusations.
One of the most common mistakes that many motorists make after they have been arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or otherwise impaired by prescription medications is to assume that the police and the local prosecutor’s office has the upper hand with all the evidence to win a guilty verdict. Better yet, by placing all of its cards on the table in a “show of strength,” a defendant might simply enter a guilty plea just to be done with what he or she believes in the inevitable outcome of a DWI hearing.
What we’d like to say is that no matter what your situation it may be in your best interest to at the very least consult with a qualified legal professional regarding your drunk driving arrest before stepping foot into a courtroom on your own. While there are no guarantees in this life, understanding one’s rights from a legal standpoint is never a bad idea when so much is on the line. A New Jersey DWI-DUI defense lawyer can give you some perspective on your options.
For instance, when it comes to deciding whether or not to fight a drunken driving charge in New Jersey, it’s often critical to avoid that first conviction. This is because down the line, any prior convictions could count against a driver should he or she be charged with a subsequent drinking and driving offense later on. It’s interesting to note that most everyone who is accused of drunk driving figures that they will never again be placed in that same situation. But can anyone truly be certain of this?
For first-time offenders who too easily accepted a conviction for DWI or drug DUI, there is always the regret later on when they find themselves charged with DWI following a subsequent drunken driving arrest. Most “second-timers” no doubt wish that they could turn back the clock and avoid their first conviction. Let us simply say that a first-time charge of driving under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor is usually worth fighting.
As any experienced DWI lawyer in New Jersey knows, the state’s drunken driving law provides a 10-year “lookback” period for DWI offenses. In simple terms, any person charged with a drunk driving offense within 10 years of a previous conviction should expect that the most recent offense will be treated as a second offense for sentencing purposes. On the other hand, is a subsequent DWI arrest happens more than 10 years following an earlier conviction for drunken driving, the latest offense will be treated as a first time DWI offense.
By consulting with a professional trial lawyer skilled in DWI defense, a defendant facing his first drunken driving charge would better his situation in that a second conviction (within the 10-year lookback period) would entail substantially harsher penalties than a first-time drunk driving conviction. If one were never to drive again, then maybe a defendant could ignore the potential penalties of a future DWI conviction, but most people don’t have the luxury of giving up driving.
What we would like to impart here is that drivers who choose to plead guilty to a first-time drunk driving offense run a chance of regretting their decision months or years later. And since penalties such as license suspensions can wreak havoc with personal relationships and cause trouble between family members, avoiding a first conviction altogether can be considered so much insurance against a second arrest for driving while impaired.