The statute prohibiting driving while intoxicated is defined in N.J.S.A. 39-4-50. Under this statute a person is guilty of driving while intoxicated if they “operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant’s blood or permits another person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug to operate a motor vehicle owned by him or in his custody or control or permits another to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant’s blood.”
Penalties for DWI are always severe, but also vary greatly depending on the circumstances. For a first offense where blood alcohol was measured at less than 0.10% potential penalties include license suspension for 3 months, almost $2,000.00 in fines and surcharges and court costs, up to 30 days in the county jail, and 12 -48 hours intoxicated drivers resource center. Where concentration of blood alcohol was 0.10% or more or other substances were involved, penalties include license suspension for 7 months to 1 year, over $2,000.00 in fines and surcharges and court costs, up to 30 days in the county jail and 12 -48 hours Intoxicated Drivers Resource Renter. Where concentration of blood alcohol was 0.15% or more an ignition interlock will be required for 6 months to a year.
Second offenses can include loss of license for 2 years, over 2,500 in fines, surcharges, and court costs, 48 hours to 90 days in jail, 30 days community service, and 12-48 hours IDRC as well as an ignition interlock device for 1-3 years once driving privileges are restored.
Third offense can result in over $3,000, in fines, surcharges, and court costs, 10 years loss of license, 180 days in county jail 12 to 48 and 1-3 years ignition interlock device once license is restored.
In addition, a whole host of more serious charges can be incurred depending on the circumstances. If children were in the car, or there was an accident, the DWI charge could only be the beginning.
Remember, DWI does not only apply to drinking alcohol. DWI also applies to intoxication from all drugs, taken both illegally and legally. I have had many clients who were taking prescription drugs under direction from a doctor get charged with DWI because the officer thought they were impaired.
DWI is often the most complicated charge to defend in Municipal Court. It has very severe penalties, even for first time offenders and leaves little room for plea negotiation. Despite this, there are still many available legal defenses. Getting any result however often requires the use of skilled legal expertise as well as the employment of expert witnesses to directly challenge the state’s case. Most of the time, you will have to be prepared to go to trial in order to have any hope of a positive outcome.
If you have been charged with DWI, don’t simply decide to except your fate and go to court unrepresented. Call my office at (732) 742-5556. I will be happy to discuss your case with you and whether you have any potential defenses. As always, first consultations are free.