It's not surprising that a charge for a third DWI offense in New Jersey comes with very drastic penalties. The impact on your life will undoubtedly be significant.
This is why the most important thing you can do for yourself in this predicament is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. They can protect your rights, give you viable options, and fiercely defend your charges.
DWI Law in New Jersey
The expressions “driving while impaired” (DWI) and “driving under the influence (DUI) are synonymous in New Jersey. So, charges for either crime indicate that you've been arrested for driving with an unlawful quantity of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two, in your system.
In order to be convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was over the legal limit while you were driving. This legal limit varies depending on the age and status of a motorist. Here are a few examples:
- .01% or higher for motorists under 21
- .04% for commercial drivers
- .08% for everybody else
Due to the state's current drug epidemic, drug DWIs have become increasingly common in recent years. Because of the rise in arrests, law enforcement has become savvier about identifying drug impairments. If the prosecution can prove that you were driving under the influence of drugs - whether it be a prescription drug or an illegal substance - there is a possibility that you may be convicted.
It's important to note that taking legal, over-the-counter prescription drugs can still result in a DWI arrest.
The main issue that arises in drug DWI cases is accurately determining whether or not the motorist met the legal definition of being under the influence. There are many conditions that can be mistaken for drug intoxication. Also, experts understand that drugs can stay in the body for days, making certain types of testing obsolete. For example, a positive test for marijuana consumption as the result of a urine test doesn't mean you were intoxicated, it could just mean you smoked marijuana sometime in a few days span. By the time you tested, the effects would have surely worn off despite it still being in your body.
New Jersey is a zero-tolerance state when it comes to underage drinking and driving. This means that if a chemical test determines that a driver under the legal drinking age of 21 has a BAC of .01% of higher on a first offense, said driver can be convicted for driving under the influence. It's incredibly easy to meet this standard - one to two alcoholic beverages would do the trick.
Keep in mind that underage drinkers are rarely charged with just one crime if caught. In addition to a DWI, charges such as minor in possession, soliciting alcohol and the possession of false identification are typically imposed.
Penalties for a Third DWI Offense in New Jersey
People charged with a third offense DWI face very serious penalties. They include:
- Up to 180 days in jail (approximately 6 months)
- A fine of $1,000
- The suspension of your license for 10 years
- The potential installation of an ignition interlock device for 1 to 3 years after the restoration of your driving privileges
- Community service
A third DWI is also very costly. Offenders of this crime must pay multiple surcharges to state programs and funds. Expect at least $3000 more in expenses in addition to fines.
Ignition Interlock Device
When your license suspension is over, a judge may order you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This device is essentially a mini breathalyzer that is connected to a vehicle's ignition system. To start your car, you must breathe into the device so it can measure your BAC. The car won't start unless the device reads that you're sober.
For the entirety of your sentence, you won't be allowed to drive another car but your own. As mentioned above, a third offense DWI will lead to the installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of 1 to 3 years.
Jail can possibly be avoided by obtaining post-conviction relief from previous convictions. If an attorney can demonstrate that there were deficiencies or inconsistencies in your prior convictions, an order from the prior court dictating that the conviction cannot be used may be sent out, and your sentence will be lessened.
With post-conviction relief, jail time is mandatory for a third offense. But it doesn't have to be served in county jail. With the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, you can spend this time in an in-patient rehabilitation center or in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC). Consult with a legal professional to decide if this is an available option for you.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
A third DWI offense requires the representation of a seasoned legal professional. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience and credentials to defend and counsel people regarding DWI charges and convictions. He will explain your pending charges, build a solid defense and work towards getting your charges reduced or dropped. For more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm either online or by phone at 888-535-3686.