Articles Posted in DWI Driving While Intoxicated

This is a synopsis of fines, fees, loss of license, IDRC, ignition interlock, jail, surcharges, etc, for all levels of NJSA 39:4-50 conviction and most refusal offenses in New Jersey. Remember that the exact penalties you face will depend on the facts of your particular case and DWI history. Therefore, this table is only a guide:

First Offense DWI BAC .08% or more but less than .10% or operating under the influence of alcohol:

1)Fine $250-$400

If you have been researching second offense DWI penalties in New Jersey, I am sure it is clear at this point that if you are convicted as a second offender, you face a mandatory 2 year loss of license in New Jersey.

I represented a client charged with his second offense. His prior offense happened in 2004 so he was not eligible for the “10 year step-down.” His case presented some interesting issues, but the facts were not in his favor. However, when facing punishment as a second or subsequent DWI defendant, the court leaves you little choice other than to go to trial.

In this particular case, there was a strong possibility that if we went to trial and lost, the state would be asking for jail time, and I was inclined to believe the court would impose it.

In a case captioned State v Federico, the NJ Appellate Division held that a defendant convicted of a DWI offense and multiple other traffic offenses may not be sentenced to more than 180 days in county jail. The court reasoned that it has been the long standing policy to cap the term of imprisonment at 180 days for multiple convictions arising out of the same incident.

This case involved a defendant who was convicted of driving while intoxicated as third offender and also driving while suspended as a result of a a prior DWI conviction. If convicted of a third or subsequent DWI offense in NJ, there is a mandatory 6 month period of incarceration, 3 months of which may be served in a inpatient rehab.

in addition, driving while suspended as a result of a DWI conviction is a minimum of 10 days in jail, and possibly much more depending on the circumstances.

First, you may hear attorneys talk about discovery. Discovery is what any experienced attorney will request from the State during the trial preparation phase of a DWI matter. Discovery consist of many different items. My discovery demand consists of about thirty different items, including police reports, videos recordings, Alcotest instrument certification documents, digital data, CAD reports, just to name a few.

Second, what is the significance of this process. Well, many of the items that I request in my discovery demand are directly related to the admissibility of the Alcotest readings. Others will help us make important probable cause determinations, like video recordings and audio recordings. Some relate to the timing of the arrest and subsequent testing which will determine if certain timing related procedural requirements were violated.

Most importantly, in many instances, if you don’t demand it, and you don’t know what to ask for, you will lose you case. It is that simple.

In State v Marquez, the NJ Supreme Court held that an individual arrested for DWI/DUI has the right to be informed of the consequences of refusing to consent (to submit) to an Alcotest (Breathalyzer) in the language that they speak. In this case, the defendant was arrested for DWI in New Jersey. It was clear that he did not speak English. When the Police brought him to the police station, the read to him, in English, what is commonly referred to as the Standard Statement. This eleven paragraph form informs the individual arrested for DWI what will happen should he/she refuse to blow into the machine. It was clear that Marquez did not understand, so the officers demonstrated what he was supposed to do (pantomime blowing into the Alcotest).

Even those who speak English have a tough time understanding this form. Most don’t realize that a first conviction for refusal means no less than a seven month loss of license.

Prior to this decision, courts examining this issue had held that it was not necessary for the Standard Form to be read in the suspect’s language before charging the individual with refusal. The reasoning behind this being that, under this State’s implied consent laws (NJSA 39:4-50.2) a person who applies for and receives a NJ driver’s license has, in essence, already agreed that he/she has an obligation to submit to a chemical test if arrested for DWI. The only requirement is that police read the standard form, in English, to the suspect. One could think of it like a contract you sign with the State when you get your license. Nonetheless, prior to being charged with refusal, the police must inform you of the consequences of doing so.

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.

For any individual charged with DWI after January 15, 2010, take note…if you are facing a first conviction for DWI, and your BAC was .15 or above, or you are facing a refusal offense, or second or subsequent DWI charge, you will also be facing the mandatory imposition of an ignition interlock system on any car that is primarily operated by you. If the BAC is .15 or above, upon conviction, the interlock system will be ordered for not only the period of suspension, but also for up to a year following the reinstatement of your license.

The installation and monitoring process is expensive and further exacerbates the already oppressive DWI penalty structure. Additionally, whether a car is primarily operated by the defendant is somewhat of an elastic term and some judges have ordered that the ignition interlock be installed on “family”cars that the defendant has access to. This can produce some odd situations, like your 75 yr old mother who lives with you having this contraption installed on her car.

The MVC website has the new ignition interlock laws posted on their site. The recent changes to these requirements further motivates the individual charged with DWI to fight the charge to the fullest.