DWI/ DUI Defense Lawyer in Essex County, NJ
People often use the terms driving under the influence of drugs (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) interchangeably, not realizing the vast differences between DUI and DWI charges.
One of the most significant ways DUI and DWI charges differ is that prosecutors must present different evidence in court to obtain a conviction.
However, the state of New Jersey labels both DUI and DWI cases as motor vehicle violations. You face license suspension, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and other criminal penalties if found guilty of either drugged or drunk driving.
If you've been charged with a DWI or DUI in New Jersey, the Essex County DUI defense lawyers at Breslow Law Offices can help. With over 45 years of experienced, we have a proven record of getting DUI charges reduced, dismissed or dropped.
Call 973-239-8000 today or contact us online for a free consultation.
Why hire Breslow Law Offices for your DUI defense?
Clients and members of the legal community have consistently ranked Breslow Law Offices as a top criminal defense law firm in New Jersey every year since 1978.
We understand that good people can sometimes make bad choices leading to DUI or DWI charges.
Our years of experience have also taught us that prosecutors, police officers, judges, and others involved in the legal process also make mistakes that can cost good people their freedom.
Suppose you are currently looking at jail time, loss of your driver’s license, and other penalties. In that case, we invite you to establish your DWI or DUI defense today by contacting Breslow Law Offices for a free consultation.
Legal definition of driving while intoxicated in New Jersey
In Essex County, New Jersey, police officers have the authority to arrest any driver who measures a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher during a breathalyzer test.
Although DUI is technically a motor vehicle violation, penalties for impaired driving are much higher than other traffic violations such as speeding or running a red light.
Penalties for DWI First Offense in Essex County, NJ
Section 39:4-50 of the New Jersey State Archives (NJSA) applies several distinctions to the charge of drunk driving. Your BAC, whether you refused a breathalyzer, and whether you have previous DUIs on your record, all determine the severity of penalties you face if convicted. Penalties for a DWI first offense with a BAC between .08 and .10 percent include:
- Loss of License until interlock device is installed
- Interlock on a principal vehicle for 3 months
- Fine ranging from $250 to $400
- Up to 30 days of jail time (not mandatory)
- Report to the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) for 12 to 48 hours
You face the following penalties if your Breathalyzer test registers between .11 and .14 percent:
- Loss of License until interlock device is installed
- Interlock on a principal vehicle for 7 months to 1 year
- Fine ranging from $300 to $500
- Up to 30 days of jail time
- Report to the IDRC for 12 to 48 hours
New Jersey requires anyone convicted of a first offense DWI with a BAC of .15 or higher to install an ignition interlock device for the duration of their driver’s license suspension and for six months after reinstatement.
You would also face the same penalties as a driver with a BAC in the .11 to .14 range.
Penalties for DWI Second Offense in Essex County, New Jersey
The state doesn’t separate criminal charges for a second DWI based on Breathalyzer results. The legal consequences for this offense include:
- Loss of driver’s license for one to two years
- Fine ranging from $500 to $1,000
- Mandatory 30 days of community service
- County jail time ranging from 48 hours to 90 days
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for the duration of the driver’s license suspension and 2 to 4 years after reinstatement.
Penalties for DWI Third Offense in New Jersey
The most serious penalties for drunk driving come after third and subsequent convictions. These penalties include:
- Driver’s license suspension for 8 years
- $1,000 fine
- Jail time of six months at the county level (Up to 90 days may be served in IDRC approved inpatient program)
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for the duration of the driver’s license suspension and one to four years after reinstatement.
Legal Definition of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
You are subject to DUI arrest in New Jersey if you have a BAC of .08 percent or higher or drove under the influence of hallucinogenic, narcotic, or other drugs with a high likelihood of addiction.
New Jersey separates DUI offenses into those with a BAC of .08 or .09 percent and .10 percent or higher. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 face arrest and criminal consequences for a BAC of .01 or higher under New Jersey’s Zero Tolerance policy related to underage consumption.
New Jersey First Offense DUI Penalties
Potential penalties of a DUI conviction with a BAC of .08 or .09 include:
- Minimum 90-day driver’s license suspension followed by additional loss of driving privileges for seven to 12 months after the initial 90 days expires
- Requirement to pay an extra $1,000 per year for auto insurance for three years
- Requirement to install an ignition interlock device for six to 12 months
- Jail time ranging from 12 hours to 30 days
- Requirement to attend two courses at the IDRC for six hours each on topics related to drug and alcohol use
- Additional fees of up to $500
These are the potential penalties if you’re charged with DUI with a BAC of .10 percent or higher:
- Suspension of driver’s license for 45 days followed by an additional six to 12 months
- Fine ranging from $300 to $500
- Jail time of 30 days
- Insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years
- Report to the IDRC for 12 to 48 hours
- Mandatory installation of ignition interlock device throughout your driver’s license suspension plus and an additional 12 to 18 months if your BAC was .15 percent or higher at the time of your arrest
- Additional fees of approximately $275
What are the penalties for an interlock device violation?
The State of New Jersey has been steadily gravitating towards using breath alcohol ignition interlock devices (BAIID).
On January 13, 2010, NJ passed a law that interlock ignition devices will be required for all DWI offenses occurring after January 14, 2010. On August 23, 2019, the law was expanded for defendants convicted of DWI and refusing breath tests which included most DWI first offenders to have a BAIID installed.
The updated law, which took effect on December 1, 2019, also reduced the length of license suspensions and rules associated with revocations, depending on the severity of the offense.
BAIID is designed to attach to a vehicle’s steering column. Before the car’s ignition can start, a driver must blow into a breathalyzer.
If the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the alcohol set point (0.05% in New Jersey) the car will unlock, but if above the set BAC, the car’s ignition will remain locked.
Offenders sentenced to use BAIID must follow certain procedures.
- BAIID must be installed in accordance with the terms of the court’s sentence at the offender’s expense.
- Must be used as designed before starting a car and perform “rolling retests” by blowing into the tube every 15 minutes to one hour.
- No tampering with the BAIID under any circumstances, including removing it before written permission from the State of New Jersey is given.Anytime procedures are not followed, a violation will be recorded. Violations can come with penalties in New Jersey under NJ Statute 39:4-50.19.
- A person who fails to install an interlock device ordered by the court in a vehicle owned, leased, or regularly operated can have their driver’s license suspended for one year.
- If caught starting a vehicle by not blowing into the tube (e.g. someone else doing it), a person can lose their license for a year in addition to other possible penalties as applicable by law (newer devices also have cameras).
- If caught driving a vehicle not equipped with a BAIID, a person can have their driver’s license suspended for one year, in addition to other possible penalties.
At the time of sentencing, the defendant is required to fill out a designated form that provides the court with information identifying the car in which the BAIID will be installed. According to law, the court notifies the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission and hands over regulatory authority.
Then, “The Court has no further statutory obligation to monitor whether a defendant has actually installed an ignition interlock device or if an approved device was installed by a licensed vendor.”
Next, the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission confirms the BAIID was installed by an approved vendor and imprints a notation on the defendant’s driver’s license for passive enforcement.
Law enforcement officers can easily identify a person under these restrictions.
Once BAIID is installed, people are on their own merit to do as the court-ordered.
That being said, if a person is caught driving drunk again (hence not self-monitoring using the device), it’s important to understand NJ courts are stricter on repeat DWI offenders.
Alternative penalties for drivers charged with a First Offense DUI or DWI in Essex County, New Jersey
While the state desires to pursue justice by imposing penalties on those genuinely guilty of the crime of impaired driving, it also recognizes that even a first offense can have severe consequences for a person’s life.
Depending on your circumstance, the judge deciding on your DWI charges can opt for alternative penalties rather than those listed under NJSA Section 39:4-50.
One such concession is that you may be able to complete a treatment program rather than serve jail time if you meet the clinical definition of chemical dependency.
However, this is only available if you could not receive chemical dependency treatment while in jail. For defendants with lower incomes, serving jail time could have a long-lasting impact on their ability to keep a job.
Your DWI attorney from Breslow Law Offices will always argue for the prosecution to drop its DUI or DWI charges against you.
When that isn’t possible, your defense attorney will request that the judge impose these penalties instead:
- Community service
- A longer stay at the IDRC instead of serving jail time.
- House arrest with the requirement to wear an ankle monitor to track your movements
Implied consent laws in New Jersey
You give your implied consent for police officers to stop your vehicle and require you to complete a breathalyzer if they suspect that you could be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The penalties for refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer are steep because of the implied consent law.
This is true even if it’s your first DUI or DWI charge or New Jersey prosecutors drop their case against you. You face driver’s license suspension until you have installed an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
Possible DUI or DWI defenses in Essex County, New Jersey
Just because a police officer pulls you over and demands you complete a field sobriety test doesn’t mean you’re guilty of the crime of drugged or drunk driving.
In the Essex County, New Jersey, there is no law that requires you to perform roadside sobriety tests when you are stopped by the police for DUI/DWI.
You can refuse to perform these tests, and not be issued a separate ticket for refusing to do so (as opposed to refusing the breathalyzer, which is required by law.
The burden is always on the prosecution for New Jersey to prove its case, which means you are innocent until proven guilty.
The police officer must have had reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle, and the chain of evidence must remain intact. Your DWI attorney will research every aspect of your case and present any potential defense that arises.
Possible reasons for the dismissal of DUI or DWI charges include:
- Health issues: A medical condition that causes you to drive in a manner similar to how a person drives when impaired could be a legitimate reason to dismiss the case against you.
- Not reading your legal rights in a language you understand: If English is not your first language, the police officer must inform you of New Jersey’s implied consent law and read the Miranda Warning when arresting you in your native language.
You could have a strong argument against a DWI conviction if you did not understand the police officer’s words.
- Police officer mistakenly claimed you refused to take an Alcotest: For the Alcotest to give accurate results, you must blow into it as hard as you can for several seconds.
This can be impossible if you have a lung condition such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. If your defense lawyer argues this successfully, the judge may drop or reduce the charges against you.
- Problems with the field sobriety test: Informed consent laws in New Jersey only require you to submit to an Alcotest or Breathalyzer when requested by a police officer. It does not require you to complete other field sobriety tests, such as balancing yourself on one leg or following an object with your eyes.
If your DUI attorney discovers that field sobriety tests were forced on you or that the police officer who placed you under arrest performed them incorrectly, the DUI charges against you may not stick.
- Procedural errors: New Jersey requires police officers to follow specific steps during every traffic stop, including the use of the Alcotest or Breathalyzer machine. If their errors caused an inaccurate blood alcohol concentration reading, it might be enough to dismiss your DUI case.
These are just some of the many possible defense strategies your DWI lawyer will explore when representing you in court.
Get a free consultation with a skilled Essex County DUI lawyer today
As former prosecutors, Roy Breslow and Casey Breslow-Glugeth have intimate knowledge of how New Jersey builds its cases against those charged with DUI or DWI.
With over five decades of legal experience between them, you know you’re in good hands with either Roy or Casey serving as your DWI defense attorney.
We can give you the best legal advice to take advantage of our free consultation right away to give yourself a fighting chance to beat the drunk driving charges or DUI charges against you.
Time is of the essence, whether you’re a first-time offender or have faced these charges in the past.