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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

Breslow Law Offices Have Defended New Jersey Residents Against Criminal Charges for 45 Years.

Roy Breslow and Casey Breslow-Glugeth have decades of experience fighting for New Jersey residents charged with a criminal offense. 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. You may reach us directly at 973-239-8000 for our Verona office or 609-494-8884 for our Long Beach Island Office.

Legal Definition of Driving While Intoxicated

New Jersey police officers have the authority to arrest any driver who measures a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher during field sobriety tests. 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 New Jersey

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 field sobriety tests, 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:

  • 90-day driver’s license suspension
  • Fine ranging from $250 to $400
  • Up to 30 days of jail time 
  • 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:

  • License suspension ranging from seven to 12 months
  • 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 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 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 one to three 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 10 years
  • $1,000 fine
  • Jail time of six months at the county level
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for the duration of the driver’s license suspension and one to three 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

Special Penalties for First Offense DUI When Driving in a School Zone

New Jersey imposes additional criminal penalties on drivers convicted of DUI while passing through a school zone. For legal purposes, a school zone refers to the following:

  • Anywhere on school property
  • Driving impaired 1,000 feet or less of a school building
  • Driving impaired in a school crossing zone whether safety guards are present to help students cross the street or not

Not knowing about the school zone laws in New Jersey is not a valid defense for violating them. You face the following penalties upon conviction:

  • 60 days of jail time
  • Suspension of driver’s license for one to two years
  • Fine of up to $800

These penalties are in addition to the normal penalties you would face for a DUI or DWI charge.

Testing for the presence of drugs in your body in far less efficient and more subjective than requiring a driver to submit to a field sobriety test to measure BAC. Prosecutors rely on specially trained police officers known as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) to evaluate whether you have controlled substances in your body and if you have consumed enough to impair your driving. The prosecution may also rely on a urine test.

 As criminal defense attorneys, we find this ineffective since some drugs can remain in your system for up to 30 days. Marijuana is a classic example. We urge you to speak to a defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. Keep in mind that the prosecution will begin working on its case against you immediately, and any delay in securing a defense attorney gives them more time to build their case. You may reach Breslow Law Offices in Essex County at 973-239-8000 or 609-494-8884 in Ocean County.

Alternatives Penalties for Drivers Charged with First Offense DUI or DWI in 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
  • Probation
  • 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 field sobriety test if they suspect that you could be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The penalties for refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer or other type of field sobriety test 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 for seven to 12 months and may also need to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.

Possible DUI or DWI Defenses in 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. 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.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Breslow Law Offices 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. Please contact Breslow Law Offices today at 973-239-8000 in Verona or 609-494-8884 in Long Beach Island.