As we all know, the decisions we make have consequences. It is a package deal. Sometimes we don’t know the extent of the consequences when we make a decision but they are there nevertheless.
Nowhere is this truer than drinking and driving. While we know getting behind the wheel after a couple of drinks is a bad decision, each year over 1.2 million individuals are arrested for driving under the influence. This is the tip of the iceberg as the average drunk driver has driven drunk over eighty times before their first arrest according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
The consequences of drinking and driving can range from significant financial loss to the loss of life. When arrested for driving under the influence, don’t compound your bad decision by not seeking legal advice. Here are some issues to consider.
New Jersey DUI Penalties
Although not considered a criminal offense, the penalties for DUI in New Jersey are quite severe. If you are arrested for DUI and it is your first offense, the penalties will include a drivers license suspension of 3 to 12 months; fines and fees of approximately $750 to $1,000; up to 30 days in jail; up to 48 hours of driver instruction at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) and a $1,000 per year surcharge for three years.
The penalties for a second offense include a two year loss of license; 30 days of community service and up to 90 days in jail; 48 hours at the IDRC; up to $1,500 in fines and fees as well as the mandatory $3,000 in surcharges.
A third offense DUI will include mandatory jail time of 180 days; a 10 year loss of license as well as fines, fees and surcharges of over $5,000. A person convicted of a second or subsequent DUI offense must also install an interlock device on any vehicle they own.
A DUI conviction will also result in an increase in your insurance premium. Refusing to take a breath test will also carry mandatory penalties and fines comparable to a DUI offense.
What can a lawyer do?
While the law prohibits plea bargains for DUI offense, lawyers experienced in DUI defense can raise technical issues that may result in certain evidence not being considered by the court. The result is the dismissal of the DUI charge or a conviction for a different offense with lesser penalties.
A lawyer will review the entire police investigation to ensure all evidence is provided. They will make sure the Alcotest instrument was in working order at the time of the offense. They will further review all the observations made by the officer in deciding to pull over the vehicle and conclude the driving is under the influence. Importantly, every defendant is entitled to a speedy trial that means the case must be heard in a timely manner.
While no one can turn back the hands of time, don’t make a bad decision worse by not getting legal advice. The consequences are too great.
Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will discuss “New Jersey bicycle laws.”
Victoria M. Dalton is a dedicated Family/Elder Law Attorney with the Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio. Email correspondence to [email protected] or call 856-845-8243.
Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational material about the law and is not legal advice.