For many of my clients in Hunterdon or Somerset County, a DWI/DUI charge is their first experience with the criminal justice system. Often I receive a “morning after” call on a Sunday morning, and listen to clients who are embarrassed, humiliated, and angry about their DWI/DUI arrest. Many areas of Hunterdon (such as Lambertville, Clinton, Flemington, and Raritan Township) have aggressively stepped up DWI enforcement over the past 5 years. The legal threshold for DWI in New Jersey is 0.8, which for most adults of average weight results in a feeling of “buzz” rather than the “falling down drunkenness” typically associated in most people’s minds with drunk driving.
Being arrested for DWI in New Jersey is not a pleasant experinece. Although DWI is not a criminal charge in New Jersey (the DWI statute falls under the Vehicle and Traffic Code, not the criminal code), it is nevertheless no different than an arrest for any criminal charge. You’ve been handcuffed, transported in a police car, taken to the station, and forced to blow into a “breathalyzer” (which is technically now called an Alcotest machine). Depending on your intoxication level, you may have been held at the station for a while or else released to a friend or family member.
Now, the question you’re facing is “what do I do?” For a first offense in New Jersey with a BAC of over 1.0, you’re facing a 7 month loss of license as well as fines, surcharges and penalties of approximately $4000.
Note that NJ does not allow any special or “conditional” licenses (such as being allowed to drive only to work and back). A NJ license suspension forbids you from operating a motor vehicle for any reason until your suspension period is concluded (and you pay the reinstatement fee to DMV).
These are harsh and drastic consequences, which for many people are akin to losing one’s job, as many areas of NJ are not well served by public transit.
Given these severe repercussions, it is important that you retain an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney as early in the process as possible. Click here for my New Jersey DUI/DWI law “Mythbusters” page, which answers many common questions about drunk driving cases in NJ.