Not all DWI offenses are alike. The facts and circumstances of any NJ driving while intoxicated offense will determine the possible penalties the defendant faces. For example, many are unaware that if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident while DWI, you can be charged with an indictable offense called assault by auto, and face up to 18 months in prison. This is in addition to the any other charges. All that is required in most circumstances is for the driver of the other vehicle to complain of any pain what so ever, and it is likely the police will charged you with this offense.
Even more serious is a circumstance where a defendant is driving while intoxicated with children in the car. In that case, the state can file 2nd degree child endangerment charges and the defendant will be facing up to ten years in state prison. I can tell you from experience that the state does not back off these charges easily, and an initial plea offer will include an extended state prison sentence recommendation. These charges may be filed even when no one is injured. The mere act of DWI with children in the car can trigger the complaint.
Other enhancement scenarios include school zone offenses and driving while on the suspended list while intoxicated. There are others, but these are more common.
Sometimes, a defendant will make the mistake of not closely examining the paperwork given to he/she by the authorities. Many times, I will speak with a potential client on the phone and they tell me that they were arrested for DWI. However, after a few questions and a review of the documents, I have to inform them that the situation is not so straight forward.
If you have been arrested for a DWI, it is wise to contact a lawyer immediately. Find someone who handles DWI cases on a regular and ongoing basis and pick their brain. I am always happy to spend some time on the phone. I know that hiring an attorney is a big decision. Giving people information and counsel is one of the main reasons I enjoy being a lawyer. Although what I may tell you can sting, at least you can go forward with some important information that will help you compare attorneys and their knowhow.