Issuu on Google+

DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED in NEW JERSEY The Law and the Penalties for a Conviction If You Are Charged With DWI In New Jersey It Is Imperative that You Understand the Laws And the Possible Consequences of a Conviction

The Cassidy Law Firm Monmouth County Bankruptcy and Criminal Law Attorney


Over the past several decades a very public campaign has been underway across the United States to educate motorists about the dangers of drinking and driving. Overall, the efforts of groups such as Mother Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, have been successful. While advocacy groups have been focused on educating the public, lawmakers have been busy passing legislation aimed at making it easier to convict a motorist for alcohol related driving offenses and ensuring that defendants face harsher penalties when they are convicted for driving while intoxicated, or DWI. If you are charged with DWI in New Jersey it is imperative that you understand the laws and the possible consequences of a conviction.

What Is DWI in New Jersey? Although the concept is the same among the states, each state has its own driving while intoxicated laws. In New Jersey, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 ―Driving While Intoxicated‖ reads, in pertinent part, as follows: ―a person who operates 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

The Cassidy Law Firm

750 Broad Street, Suite 3 Shrewsbury NJ 07702

Page 2


vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant's blood…‖ As you will note, New Jersey includes vicarious culpability in the statute by making it a crime to allow another person who is intoxicated to operate your vehicle. It is also important to note that while part of the statute does make it a crime to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, over 0.08 that is not the only standard used to convict a motorist of DWI. The statute also makes it a crime to ―operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotics, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drugs.‖ In other words, you can be convicted of DWI without BAC results or with a BAC result lower than 0.08; however, a BAC test result over 0.08, if admissible, is a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 and considered a DWI in New Jersey.

Do You Have to Take the Breath Test? One way in which law enforcement officers attempt to determine if a motorist is under the influence of alcohol is by administering a breathalyzer test. A portable breath test may be given at the scene but the results are not admissible in court. After an arrest is made the officer may ask you to submit to a formal breathalyzer test once you arrive at the station house or jail. You have the right to refuse the test; however, there are consequences for refusing.The penalties for refusing a breathalyzer the first time include a fine

The Cassidy Law Firm

750 Broad Street, Suite 3 Shrewsbury NJ 07702

Page 3


of $300-$500, license suspension of seven months to one year, installation of an ignition interlock device, or IID, for six months to one year after license restoration, an automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 for three years, a $100 surcharge to the Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund, and referral to the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. Refusal a second time raises the fine to $500-$1,000, the license suspension to two years and the IID to one to three years. Refusing a third time carries a fine of $1,000, a license suspension of 10 years, and IDD for one to three years, and the insurance surcharge to $1,500.

What Are the Penalties for a First Time DWI Conviction? The penalties a motorist faces if convicted of a DWI depend on a number of factors. For the most basic first-time DWI with a BAC level of between 0.08 and 0.10 the potential penalties are as follows: Up to 30 days in jail License suspension Fine of $250-$400 $230 IDRC fee $100 to drunk driving fund $100 to AERF $1,000/year (for 3 years) surcharge $75 to Neighborhood Services Fund A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center

The Cassidy Law Firm

750 Broad Street, Suite 3 Shrewsbury NJ 07702

Page 4


Are There Enhancements for a DWI Charge? There are a number of factors and circumstances that can enhance a DWI charge, causing you to face harsher potential penalties if convicted. Some of the more common reasons why you would face additional penalties include: A higher BAC level. The penalties go up for a BAC between 0.10 and 0.15 and again if your BAC is over 0.15. You have a previous conviction for DWI. The potential punishment goes up for the second conviction and again for the third conviction. You were driving while intoxicated in a school zone. You had a minor in the vehicle at the time of the commission of the offense. You caused an accident or injured someone.

New Jersey’s Zero Tolerance Law In the State of New Jersey you must be 21 years old to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol. If you are driving with anydetectable amount of alcohol in your system you can be charged with DWI

The Cassidy Law Firm

750 Broad Street, Suite 3 Shrewsbury NJ 07702

Page 5


pursuant to New Jersey’s ―Zero Tolerance‖ law. Underage motorists do not need to meet the 0.08 threshold to be convicted of DWI in New Jersey. If convicted, an underage motorist faces: Loss or postponement of driving privileges for 30 to 90 days 15 to 30 days of community service Participation in an alcohol and traffic safety education program

Non-Judicial Consequences of a DWI Conviction For many people convicted of a DWI, the court sanctions are not as detrimental as the non-judicial consequences. A number of long-term negative consequences often stem from a DWI conviction, such as: Driving –if convicted you will lose your driving privileges for some period of time. Moreover, New Jersey, unlike other states, does not issue hardship licenses. Therefore, you truly cannot drive during your suspension period or you risk additional charges and punishment. Insurance –insurance rates almost always go up when a motorist is convicted of a DWI – and they tend to stay higher for three to five years at least. Employment –depending on the type of job you have you could lose your job as a result of a DWI conviction, particularly if your job requires you to drive a company vehicle. A conviction can also automatically disqualify you for certain jobs. Children –A DWI conviction can directly, or indirectly, impact visitation with minor children. A court could find that the conviction raises questions about your parenting abilities, particularly if a minor was in the vehicle at

The Cassidy Law Firm

750 Broad Street, Suite 3 Shrewsbury NJ 07702

Page 6


the time of the arrest. Even if that does not occur, losing your license can affect your ability to transport your children or drive to see them.

If you are currently facing DWI charges it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney to determine what legal options and defenses you may have. Office of the Attorney General State of New Jersey, Driving While Intoxicated The State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Driving While Intoxicated in New Jersey New Jersey State Legislature, Fines and Penalties of Driving While Intoxicated

The Cassidy Law Firm

750 Broad Street, Suite 3 Shrewsbury NJ 07702

Page 7


About The Cassidy Law Firm, Attorneys at Law Few attorneys can match the unique success that Harold Cassidy — the founder of our law firm — has achieved. Well-earned statewide awards from his peers and national recognition from mainstream media outlets have resulted from Mr. Cassidy establishing legal precedents and handling high-profile cases. For his blazing of new legal trails, our founder has received national recognition as an ABC News ―Person of the Week,‖ as well as recognition from the state as a Top Lawyer in New Jersey Monthly and inclusion in New Jersey Super Lawyers Magazine. While a high level of acclaim has come our way, we do not forget where our roots are. The attorneys at The Cassidy Law Firm are dedicated to helping New Jersey residents charged with crimes, injured in an accident or needing help with a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. Attorney Harold Cassidy brings more than 35 years of experience providing representation that some clients have referred to as exquisite. He appreciates the unique problems his clients face, and he provides empathetic and attentive advocacy to the legal matters impacting their lives that include: Car accidents Birth injuries Surrogate mother and gestation carrier cases Medical malpractice Abortion malpractice Informed consent malpractice Trips, slips and falls Juvenile crimes Criminal appeals Municipal court cases DWI and drunk driving The Cassidy Law Firm 750 Broad Street, Suite 3 Shrewsbury NJ 07702 Telephone: (732) 747-3999 Fax: (732) 747-3944 Website: www.thecassidylawfirm.com

The Cassidy Law Firm

750 Broad Street, Suite 3 Shrewsbury NJ 07702

Page 8


Driving While Intoxicated in New Jersey : The Law and the Penalties for a Conviction