It is estimated that last year roughly 23% of fatal traffic accidents were alcohol-related. New Jersey had approximately 137 such deaths in 2016 and then 125 in 2017. Other key reasons for traffic fatalities include speeding and the emergence of distracted driving. As a result, law enforcement has been increasing its efforts to keep the roadways safe with more consistent monitoring, enforcement, and newly implemented technology.
Defining Impaired Driving
The New Jersey Division of Highway and Traffic Safety (HTS) is one agency that is active in the enforcement of impaired driving. They define “drunk driving” offenses as those where someone is found to be operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. The agency also enforces “drugged driving”, which is when an operator is impaired by narcotics, hallucinogens, or other habit-forming drugs. Both of these offenses are typically referred to as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) charges.
Research by the HTS has shown how those who consume alcohol or drugs may demonstrate diminished reaction time, impaired judgment, and decreased motor skills. A driver may still be convicted of DWI at a BAC that is under .08% if the evidence clearly indicates they are impaired.
Drivers Charged With DWI Should Seek Legal Counsel
All across the country, the penalties for DWI have continued to be enhanced. These penalties and their ramifications are wide-ranging. Offenders face the potential for significant monetary losses, the loss of driving privileges, incarceration, and much more. If you have been charged with a DWI, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney who is familiar with this area of legal practice. The Lento Law Firm has been effectively representing clients in these matters for many years now in New Jersey.
Severity of Consequences
In New Jersey, the severities of consequences (penalties) that are imposed for DWI are largely attributed to the number of prior convictions and your BAC level. Prior DWI convictions are those that have occurred in the past 10-year period. Any convictions that occur out-of-state are generally included. The first tier for DWI penalties is a BAC of between .08% and .10%; the other being any level that exceeds .10%.
Driver's License Suspension
Those who have been driving for many years that are charged with DWI are often abruptly reminded that driving is a privilege. Most citizens reside beyond the largest central metropolitan areas; therefore, are likely to be dependent on their vehicle for daily transportation. The penalties that may be imposed that relate to the loss of driving privileges are as follows:
DWI Penalties: License Suspension
1st Offense: .08 to .10% BAC
1st Offense: .10%+ BAC
Seven months to 1-year
First-time offenders may be sentenced to a maximum of 30 days in jail. Second-time offenders may have a sentence imposed ranging from 48 hours to 90 days. Those with a third offense may face up to 180 days of incarceration.
DWI offenders now may be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. This requires the driver to submit a breath sample in order to start the vehicle. First-time offenders with a BAC of .15% must have a device installed during the period of suspension and up to one year after. Those with a prior DWI conviction are required to have a device installed for between one to three years after driving privileges are restored.
Fines and Financial Consequences
There are tremendous financial consequences associated with a DWI conviction including many of the following:
- Cost of vehicle towing and impound
- Legal representation
- Fines may be imposed from $250 to $1,000
- Ignition interlock installation and leasing fees (when applicable)
- Intoxicated Driver Resource Center fees
- Auto insurance surcharge of between $1,000 and $1,500 per year for three years
- $100 for Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund
- $100 for Intoxicated Driving Program fee
- $75 for Safe and Secure Community Program fee
- Driver's License Reinstatement fee
- Missed work for court appearances, probation appointments, incarceration, and more
A DWI offense may place your current job in jeopardy. This is particularly the case if you drive for a living such as a truck, taxi, or ride-share driver. This is also a potentially major concern for those who drive between sites for work such as those in residential repair, outside sales, landscaping, etc.
Those in professional occupations that require licenses such as nurses, lawyers, and doctors typically have annual background screening that may pose a problem. Aside from the potential ramifications regarding employment, you may incur damage to your reputation.
One example is if asked during the application or screening process something such as: “Have you been convicted of a crime or serious traffic offense?” Many employers require pre-employment screening that includes driving record, criminal record, credit score, etc.
Those who are under the legal drinking age may not operate a vehicle with a BAC of .01% or higher. A license suspension may be imposed for between 30 and 90 days. You may be required to perform community service for between 15 and 30 days. You may be ordered to complete classes or programs pertaining to alcohol consumption and/or traffic safety.
Importance of Experienced Legal Representation
It is clearly evident that being convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has significant consequences. The financial losses alone resulting from fines, increased auto insurance, legal fees, and more can easily exceed $10,000. Those who are charged should promptly contact an attorney that is familiar with defending DWI cases in New Jersey. Your attorney will be able to explain to you what to expect and investigate the evidence against you to devise a defense.
DWI Defense Attorney in New Jersey
Joseph D. Lento is a seasoned DWI defense attorney who aggressively seeks positive outcomes in these matters. You deserve to know that your rights will be protected and that a comprehensive defense strategy will be employed on your behalf. For a complimentary consultation call (888) 535-3686 today.