New Jersey DUI Guide

A Comprehensive Guide for DUI/DWI Arrests

The New Jersey DUI Guide, compiled by Carl Spector, a DUI attorney with over 30 years of experience, is designed to inform and engage all those facing DUI charges within the state. Though the consequences you may face are severe, there are potential defenses, and with some self-education and the help of an experienced attorney, you may have your charges mitigated, or, in some cases, completely dropped. Please continue reading for a wealth of information regarding DUI law in the state of New Jersey.

Legal Limit in New Jersey

In New Jersey, the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08%. This means if you are arrested with a BAC of .08% or higher, you will most likely receive a driver’s license suspension, among additional penalties.

DUI Penalties

First-Offense DUI with BAC Between 0.08% and 0.10%

As of 2020, New Jersey has updated its DUI laws to better reflect the nature of the crime. In the past, a first-offense DUI would almost guarantee at least a three-month license suspension, which, rather obviously, can drastically impact a person’s life. The state has found that punishing first-time DUI offenders in this way only exacerbated the problem, causing these individuals to lose their jobs due to lack of transportation, drink more heavily, and ultimately enter a vicious cycle. With the updated laws in place, if you are convicted of a first-offense DUI, your punishment will focus more on the use of the ignition interlock device for a period of months. As such, the law is designed to simply deter those from drinking and driving, tending to the root of the problem, rather than simply taking them off the road for an extended period of time.

That being said, your BAC at the time of your arrest will greatly impact the harshness of the penalties you will face. If you are arrested for a first-offense DUI with a BAC of 0.08% but less than 0.10%, you may face the following penalties:

  • License forfeiture until the ignition interlock device is installed
  • Up to 30 days of imprisonment
  • A $250-$400 fine
  • 12-48 hours in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • DWI surcharge of $125
  • $100 surcharge to the Drunk Driving Education Fund
  • $50 to VCCO
  • $75 to the Neighborhood Services Fund
  • The mandatory installation and use of the ignition interlock device at your own cost for three months

First-Offense DUI with BAC Between 0.10% and 0.15%

As your BAC increases, so will the penalties for your actions. The consequences for a first-offense DUI with a BAC between .10% and .15% are as follows:

  • License forfeiture until the ignition interlock device is installed
  • Up to 30 days of imprisonment
  • A $300-$500 fine
  • DWI surcharge of $125
  • $100 surcharge to the Drunk Driving Education Fund
  • $50 to VCCO
  • $75 to the Neighborhood Services Fund
  • Between 12-48 hours in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • The mandatory installation and use of the ignition interlock device at your own cost for between 7 months and 1 year

First-Offense DUI with BAC of 0.15% or Higher

If you are arrested with a BAC of 0.15% or higher, you will be facing very serious consequences. They are as follows:

  • License forfeiture between four and six months
  • Up to 30 days of imprisonment
  • $300-$500 fine
  • DWI surcharge of $125
  • $100 surcharge to the Drunk Driving Education Fund
  • $50 to VCCO
  • $75 to the Neighborhood Services Fund
  • 12-48 hours spent in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • Mandatory installation of the ignition interlock device at your own cost during the license forfeiture and for 9 to 15 months after the license is restored

Second Offense

If you were arrested and charged with a DUI for the second time in New Jersey, the courts will now treat you as a repeat offender. The consequences for a second DUI in the state of New Jersey are as follows:

  • License forfeiture for one to two years
  • A $500-$1,000 fine
  • Two to 90 days of imprisonment
  • $100 to the Drunk Driving Fund
  • A DWI surcharge of $125
  • $75 to the Neighborhood Services Fund
  • Up to 30 days of community service
  • Intoxicated Driver Resource Center in accordance with treatment classification (usually 48 hours)
  • The installation and use of the ignition interlock device duration of your license suspension and two to four years after the license is restored
  • $50 to VCCO
  • $100 to AERF

Third or Subsequent Offense

If this is your third or subsequent offense, you are facing extremely serious consequences, including heavy fines, potential lifetime revocation of your license, as well as time behind bars and the burdens associated with having a criminal record. If you are facing a third or subsequent DUI, you cannot afford to go through the process alone. You need an attorney who can help ensure you stay free from jail. Here are some of the penalties you may face for a third or subsequent DUI offense in New Jersey:

  • An 8-year license forfeiture
  • $1,000 fine
  • Six months in jail
  • Intoxicated Driver Resource Center in accordance with treatment classification
  • $100 to AERF
  • $100 to the Drunk Driving Fund
  • DWI surcharge of $125
  • $75 to the Neighborhood Services Fund
  • Up to 90 days of community service
  • $50 to VCCO
  • Ignition Interlock Device during license suspension and for two to four years after the license is restored

Refusal to Submit to Chemical Testing

Refusal to Submit to a Chemical test is a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50a and it carries its own set of penalties if you are convicted or plead guilty to a refusal.

First Offense

  • Fine ranges from $300 – $500, and
  • DDEF $100, and
  • Driver’s license suspension until an ignition interlock device is installed
  • 12 to 48 hours at IDRC
  • Shall order installation of an ignition interlock device for 9 to 15 months

Second Offense

  • Fine ranges from $500 – $1,000, and
  • DDEF $100, and
  • Driver’s license suspension for a period of one to two years following the installation of the ignition interlock device
  • IDRC in accordance with treatment classification (usually 48 hours)
  • Shall order installation of ignition interlock device during the period of suspension and for two to four years following the restoration of the offender’s driver’s license.

Third or Subsequent Offense

  • Fine of $1,000, and
  • DDEF $100, and
  • Driver’s license suspension for eight years
  • IDRC in accordance with treatment classification
  • Shall order installation of ignition interlock device during the period of suspension and for two to four years following the restoration of the offender’s driver’s license.

DUI Fees

If you have been charged with DUI in the state of New Jersey and decided to just plead guilty without speaking to a New Jersey DUI Lawyer, you are facing high fines. The court costs for a DUI will be somewhere around $700 on average, plus a $3,000 surcharge, and the IDRC fee which is $75. You will likely end up paying somewhere between $3,700 and $4,000. A first time DUI in New Jersey could easily cost at least $5,000 if you simply plead guilty.

Know Your Rights: Miranda Rights

When Miranda Rights Are Read

After you have been arrested, the police are supposed to read you your Miranda rights. The police are supposed to read the defendant their Miranda rights before the interrogation can begin. Some interrogation questions might include: where were you, how much did you drink, what did you drink, how many drinks over the last few hours, and whether you are taking any medication.

Questions like these after your arrest become subject to the Miranda rules, not the questions that they would ask you when they first pull you over. If the police officer doesn’t ask you those questions, then the fact that they didn’t read you the Miranda rights is not relevant. Your case won’t be dismissed simply because they didn’t read your Miranda rights/

I Wasn’t Read My Miranda Rights

If they do arrest you and begin interrogating you without reading your Miranda rights, there may be an issue. If you’ve been under arrest the answers to those questions are subject to a hearing. At a hearing, it will be determined if those statements can be suppressed and not be able to be used against you at a trial and where a judge would decide that your rights were violated or not.

Your Rights Can Provide a Strong Defense

People can fight their case, even if they actually have been drinking and driving. Not every case is perfect for the police and the prosecutor, and there are constitutional rules in place that protect us all.

Building a DUI Defense

Building a Client’s DUI Defense Using the Police Reports or Videos

When you retain an attorney for a criminal defense case, they will send a letter of representation to the court and the prosecutor. The prosecutor must provide us with all the police reports. We also request any videos from the police car or the municipality where you were taken to the police station.

When we go to court, you will know what our strategy is. This is because you will have helped formulate it. By now, your attorney will have educated you. You will understand what the strategy is, based on what the police reports say. A good lawyer gets his clients actively involved in their own defense, from the very beginning.

How Police Videos Benefit You

Oftentimes, there are cameras in police cars mounted behind the windshield. You see the way the client was driving from before they got pulled over until their field sobriety test. What you see may differ from the narration by the police officer.

Very often, there is audio that accompanies the video. You can hear the officer. You can hear the responses of the client. In many cases, you can see it mirrors more closely what clients are saying than what the police reports say.

The Prosecution

Strong Defense Against the Prosecution

It is important to start your trial in a congenial manner. A good attorney acknowledges that the prosecutor and he are just trying to do their jobs but the prosecutor must realize that the defense attorney has a client he will fight to defend. It is his job is to protect his client’s interest.

Working Towards the Same Goal

If the prosecutors don’t like what they hear, the relationship can become a little more adversarial. But many times, an attorney has been able to work cooperatively with the prosecutors towards the same end.

The goal is always to agree on what the best results are for that particular case. It is perhaps most ideal to seek a lawyer who has been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney because he knows how to approach prosecutors.

Common DUI Misconceptions

I refused the breathalyzer. Therefore, the police have no evidence against me.

The law in New Jersey breaks DUIs down into a couple of different theories for the state or the prosecutor.

If you take a breathalyzer exam or an Intoxilyzer, these are both chemical tests. If they draw blood from you, this is a chemical test. If you give them a urine sample, this is also a chemical test.

If you don’t supply them with any of those chemical tests, the state still has the opportunity to attempt to prosecute you with the common law or observation DUI. In this case, the police officer testifies about your basic condition and comments on how you were operating the motor vehicle.

The police officers will generally comment about whether or not you were driving erratically, carelessly, or recklessly. Very often they need to establish elements called observations.

These observations include bloodshot and watery eyes, the odor of alcohol, or unsteady feet. Therefore, admitting to drinking is not necessarily an observation. However, it is a statement against your interest.

Furthermore, the police would then do a battery of standard field sobriety tests, all approved by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration. The first one, called HGN, is an eye test during which they ask you to follow a finger or a stimulus, and they watch whether your eyes are shaky or have nystagmus to them.

The second test is a Walk and Turn test, during which you have to walk a line of nine steps, pivot and then walk nine steps back, all heel to toe while watching your feet and counting out loud.

The third standard field sobriety test is called One Leg Stand, during which you must lift one foot off the ground 6 inches and count “one-one thousand, two-one thousand” until the officer tells you to stop. Essentially, they’re trying to estimate 30 seconds.

The officers will take those tests, break them down, and ultimately give their opinions. While the HGN test can’t be used to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, only for probable cause, the other two tests can be used to prove an observation case.

The other issue with a refusal is that you’ll receive a separate summons for refusal, which can and should be challenged. It does carry its penalties, which include suspensions of driving privileges and if you’re licensed in the state, suspension of your driving license. While refusals may have certain advantages, they certainly have some disadvantages.

I think I performed rather well on the standardized field sobriety tests. Therefore, it will be an easy case.

This might be true occasionally. Performing the field sobriety tests is a challenge, even for sober people. However, performing them well when stopped could be a tremendous advantage. It might even help you get the case thrown out on a pretrial hearing before you even have to go to trial. Performing well could be a huge advantage in your case.

Your attorney will review the police report in comparison to the way a person performs. He will then gather the police videos, if they have videos from their police cars. It’s a multi-step process to reap the rewards of performing well. However, it could be a tremendous advantage.

I refused the breathalyzer and the standardized field sobriety tests. Because of this, I should be home free.

It’s interesting that very few people actually take advantage of this concept of refusing to take the field sobriety tests. The reason might be some consciousness of guilt, and it might show some arrogance or belligerence on the part of the motorist, to some extent.

However, not doing the tests would certainly provide the officer with less evidence. But remember that the police officer is going to be observing the motorist at all times, regardless. The officer is going to make certain observations about that motorist, like bloodshot watery eyes, the odor of alcohol, and whether or not he’s unsteady.

Therefore, the officer doesn’t need the field sobriety tests to make those conclusions. However, refusing to take a field sobriety test is probably a good idea. Both refusals probably put the prosecutor at some kind of disadvantage.

If you couple both these things together, in New Jersey, it creates an interesting case because you’re facing a separate refusal, which makes it difficult for the state to prove that you’re under the influence in the first place.

Furthermore, it might become difficult for them to prove the refusal or to establish a refusal if they didn’t have a reason to put you on the machine in the first place. If they don’t have probable cause to ask you to take the tests, they will have difficulty sustaining a refusal charge.

The police officer did not read me my Miranda rights, so the case should be dismissed.

Yes. The Miranda Rights are important for anybody who is being arrested or has been placed in custody. Once you’re in custody, and the police want to interrogate you, they must inform you of your Miranda Rights.

Many examples of such cases exist. The police officers make a valid arrest, but they don’t read your Miranda Rights. It’s still a valid arrest because they never had an opportunity to ask questions that might incriminate the individual. Therefore, the Miranda Rights don’t become relevant to the prosecution.

For example, if the police pulled you over and they asked you if you’ve been drinking, you’re not under arrest yet. Therefore, those questions are valid and those answers are admissible. But let’s say after you answer those questions, you’re taken out of the car and asked to do field sobriety tests, and then they decide to arrest you. This triggers your right to have the Miranda Rights read to you.

If they don’t read you your Miranda Rights, this doesn’t create an automatic flaw in your case. The Miranda Rights pertain to the admissibility of statements against you, not necessarily any other evidence against you.

If the police officer does arrest you legally, does not read you your Miranda Rights, and then starts questioning you while in custody or when you get back to the police department, saying things like, “How many drinks did you have? How much food did you eat? What time did you start drinking? What type of alcohol did you drink? What period of time past between each drink?” then these statements are subject to suppression.

This means that these questions and answers are subject to be excluded from evidence at a trial. This suppression hearing would be done in front of the judge. The judge would decide whether or not that evidence could be introduced against the individual at the trial. However, the mere fact that this happened does not invalidate an arrest.

The police officer was very rude to me, and I felt intimidated. I was forced to say or do things because of that intimidation. This will help my case out because it’s caught on camera.

In the state of New Jersey, the police vehicles have recording devices. Police officers even have audio attached to their persons. A good attorney will request the audio and video from the police officer.

Many times, they will receive them. The attorney should review them with the client, and go over them himself. The attitude of a police officer does not necessarily lead to a case being dismissed. However, it makes it a lot easier to scrutinize, analyze, and defend when intimidation becomes a factor.

Intimidation is a real factor, especially in cases in which an individual’s pulled over and the police officer wants to search a vehicle for either narcotics or marijuana. The officer’s statement must be that the person gave his consent.

However, often the police officers tend to be overly intimidating in those situations, making audio and video extraordinarily beneficial. Therefore, the audio and video should always be asked for and reviewed.

I’m not worried because the police officer was very nice to me and assured me that I shouldn’t worry, even though I was arrested. He said it was all part of the procedure.

It feels better to be processed by a pleasant officer rather than someone who is rude, intimidating, and overwhelming. Depending on the charge, police officers can be brought to court. In many instances, they are brought to court to assist the prosecutor, even if the case isn’t going to trial, to give the prosecutor some information about the case and the attitude of the motorist.

If a police officer is particularly nice, this is a good thing. It doesn’t mean your case is going to be dismissed or plea-bargained down to your satisfaction. However, cooperating with the police and having the police be cooperative with you can be somewhat beneficial.

I would seek the advice of a New Jersey DUI Lawyer, depending on what the charge is, because the police officer is not your attorney. He shouldn’t give legal advice. Furthermore, you can’t trust that you’re going to get a beneficial, subjective opinion from a prosecutor, because he’s not your attorney.

It’s always nice to have a pleasant police officer, but I would not advise someone to give up his right to retain a New Jersey DUI Lawyer.

I’m not an alcoholic, and the court should understand that.

For cases involving multiple DUI offenses, certain issues certainly arise concerning both treatment and the assistance that treatment can provide.

This is especially true for a third offense DUI (39450), because the penalties do require jail sentences, and jail sentences can be mitigated with residential treatment.

On a first offense, no presumption exists that the charged individual is an alcoholic. Therefore, no real discussion occurs between the state and the attorneys with regards to whether or not somebody abuses alcohol.

This is something you should discuss with your New Jersey DUI Lawyer. It’s not necessarily an extensive conversation during the plea bargain or even in front of the judge.

My tolerance level for alcohol is very high, and it takes a lot for me to be intoxicated. Because of that, I should do the standardized field sobriety tests to prove I’m going to be fine.

If someone gets pulled over, he’s asked to do the field sobriety tests, and the police officer feels there’s not enough evidence to arrest him, then he’ll go on his merry way.

Very often, though, high tolerance to alcohol is not necessarily enough to get back on the road. This is because the police officer will note bloodshot watery eyes, the odor of alcohol, and any answers you spoke with regards to your consumption of alcohol.

Having a high tolerance for alcohol might be a lifestyle issue. It also might be an advantage to you in that the officer is not able to prove an observation case. If you did well, the question would be why they arrested somebody who did so well on field sobriety tests. These are good questions that need to be discussed on an individual basis.

I only had 3 drinks. I got pulled over, and I was honest with the officer. I can even show the receipt from the place that I bought the drinks. Shouldn’t that be enough?

You can find blood alcohol content calculators out on the Internet. Some handheld ones are available that people use, as well.

However, this doesn’t offer the question of how many drinks you had but how your body metabolizes that alcohol. This pertains to individualized metabolic rates. For someone who is 150 pounds and had three full meals that day before drinking three glasses of wine over three hours, a controlled amount of alcohol with only 4 ounces each, his drunkenness level really depends on his metabolism.

Therefore, someone might be fine with three drinks, and they might be well over the legal limit with three drinks. This depends on metabolism, when those drinks are consumed, and how much alcohol is in those drinks.

A glass of wine at a bar could be 4 ounces, while a glass of wine and at another bar could be 3 ounces. At a third bar, it could be 3 times that, depending on the pour and the bar culture. I don’t think the amount of drinks an individual had is a good parameter for an ultimate resolution as to whether somebody is intoxicated or not, legally speaking.

I am a professional in the educational field or the healthcare field. Because of that, the courts will go easy on me.

Some of the prosecutors are certainly open to listening to these issues. The judges don’t get involved in any type of pretrial. The prosecutors are fairly constrained with their ability to process that type of information to the benefit of an individual.

Your lawyer needs to know what you do for a living so they can advise you accurately. However, leniency is not forthcoming for people in those fields. It’s important to inform your New Jersey DUI Lawyer about your occupation to discuss any collateral consequence.

I am a single mother, and the courts will be lenient on me.

Untrue. While there should be some consideration for the fact that it could be difficult for some people to function as a result of the charge, generally, it does not exist.

The client must inform the attorney so the attorney knows what types of collateral consequences could occur. I don’t find that the prosecutors can do much with that information, however.

My medications were prescribed, so I don’t have to worry.

This is not necessarily the case because, in a DUI, the person is charged with being under the influence of something other than alcohol. You can be prosecuted and even found guilty of being impaired by prescription medication.

The idea behind prescription medication is that you have to take it responsibly. Warnings are listed on them that should be taken seriously because if the impairment is due to the prescription medicine, a person can be successfully prosecuted.

I’m new to NJ. However, DUI laws are similar in my previous state. Therefore, if I had a DUI from another state, it shouldn’t be a problem in NJ.

If you have a conviction for a DUI within 10 years from another state, New Jersey courts, the state prosecutors, and the municipal prosecutors are required to consider this fact. This out-of-state conviction may elevate your ultimate sentence to a second or a third offense.

If I have a DUI in NJ and went to another state, is this a problem?

You certainly have the right to go to another state as long as your New Jersey case is over and you’ve fulfilled all of your obligations. However, the DUI in New Jersey may affect your ability to get licensed in the other state.

Note that there’s something called an interstate compact that ties each member state together with information from each motorist. As such, it may affect your insurance, your ability to get re-licensed, your requirement to install ignition interlock device if that was required in New Jersey, and a whole host of other obligations.

If I was convicted of a DUI in NJ, can I get it expunged from my record?

The answer is no. New Jersey does not permit the expungement of any traffic offense. Since a DUI in the state of New Jersey is a traffic offense, it cannot be segregated from the record. Therefore, it cannot be expunged.

If I blew under 0.08%, this is fine for my case.

A couple of issues exist with this idea.

The first depends on whether you’re underage or not. We do have an underage statute, which requires the prosecution of any motorist under the age of 21 who blows 0.01 or 0.02, 0.03, 0.04, 0.05, 0.06, and even 0.07. As an underage DUI, your 0.07 would be prosecuted as an underage.

Some prosecutors would probably try to prosecute you for a 0.07, while several prosecutors would not. The statute does automatically prosecute at a 0.08, so a 0.07 should theoretically be okay. However, it’s not always as simple as all that.

We’d have to get the facts of the case and have a conference with the prosecutor before judging this particular case.

This is the first time I’ve gotten a DUI, and I have a clean record. I’ve never done anything wrong, so because of this, the courts will go easy on me and let it slide.

In the state of New Jersey, DUIs are prosecuted vigorously. No plea bargaining is involved, so, essentially, the case will either go to trial, the person will take a plea, or the case will be dismissed.

However, the prosecutors or judges are not basing dismissals on first offenses, pleasantries, or no prior points on the license. Significant issues must arise for dismissals. Mandatory minimum sentences exist for first-time offenders. Therefore, just because it’s a first offense, you’re not going to get away easy.

I thought I was intoxicated, so I pulled over to the side of the road to wait for it off. The police came and insisted on arresting me, even though I wasn’t driving. Will it be an easy case?

Here, we find an issue of operation or concept of operation. This is something the state must prove. Because you’ve pulled over to the side of the road, it becomes an issue in any DUI case.

This is not an open and shut case to the advantage of the motorist because of many issues, like: how did the motorist get to that location? Was he intoxicated when he drove there? What information did the motorist give to the police officer?

Did somebody else drop him off? Did he drive to that location? Was he intoxicated when he drove there? Did he drive to that location sober and drink in the car?

The issue of operation is a legal term that the statute and the case law discussed. It must be analyzed on an individual basis.

I should come clean with the court, tell them about my drinking habit, and admit everything that I did was wrong. They will understand my honesty.

It’s good to be honest. However, when you’re charged with a DUI, it’s best to have a New Jersey DUI Lawyer and to rely on the confidentiality between you and your attorney.

Therefore, honesty between you and your attorney is absolutely critical, encouraged, and protected. Going into court on your own and simply stating you did it isn’t going to garner any advantages. It’s likely to lead to a conviction either by plea or at trial.

Therefore, it’s good to be honest, but it should be in the right format. That format exists between you and your attorney.

I hear that DUIs cannot be beaten. I’m doomed to lose, and I shouldn’t pursue it.

This is the way some people feel, especially right after the arrest. It’s understandable. The DUI offers a very depressing set of circumstances. The more you read on the internet, the more it feels like there is no hope.

Having a meaningful conversation and consultation with the right attorney will help you decide on a better course of action and give you back some of the power and some of the rights afforded to you. The law does provide for the presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof is on the state. The state must prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt.

For most cases or every case, an individual should have a consultation with a New Jersey DUI Lawyer to figure out whether or not that individual has certain issues he can take advantage of without simply giving up and taking punishment. The individual has a significant amount of rights to be taken advantage of.

I fear I’m going to be facing a great deal of jail time for DUI in New Jersey.

On a first offense, jail time is not a factor as long as no significant aggravating factors existed, such as an accident or people getting hurt.

Going into a second offense, it becomes more complicated because a jail term requirement can be worked out quite simply. On a third offense, in the state of New Jersey, if someone is convicted by plea or by trial, jail time becomes very probable.

I was pulled over suspected of being intoxicated. However, what I used was several days ago. This shouldn’t matter, right?

Remember the premise of being intoxicated or impaired at the time of the driving is important in this case. Often, this begins with a police officer observing somebody driving erratically, carelessly, or recklessly.

Sometimes, this could warrant a speeding ticket, which does not suggest intoxication or being impaired. After all, many people get traffic summonses without being charged with DUI.

When we’re discussing marijuana, as an example, police officers will make certain observations that lead them to believe the person is under the influence of marijuana. The motorist might even admit to having smoked marijuana. An odor of marijuana could emanate off the person’s breath or the person’s clothes.

An odor of marijuana could be emanating from inside of the vehicle, which is another indicator that someone has recently consumed marijuana by smoking it.

The police will ask the individual to provide a urine sample, and the forensic lab of the New Jersey State Police will test that urine sample. Those cases can be successfully challenged. However, the person who is charged with such an offense needs to speak to an experienced New Jersey DUI Lawyer.

Remember, the issue is whether the person was under the influence at the time he was driving.

If I have done a great deal of research on the internet and have a lot of good information about this through a friend’s experience, I could probably beat this case on my own.

The internet has provided a wealth of information and some very good tools for research. I have a lot of potential clients and clients themselves who call me and ask excellent questions because they’ve researched something on the internet. I find it to be invaluable to clients to have that resource available to them.

While the internet is a very useful tool, it does not make somebody an attorney. To be an attorney, you have to go through 4 years of college and 3 years of law school full-time. I’ve been practicing for nearly 30 years, and I’ve been a prosecutor and a defense attorney.

I don’t think I would ever let myself do any of my dental work if I looked it up on the internet and saw how easy it was to do. I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Therefore, it’s not a good idea to represent yourself on a DUI. Furthermore, there’s also the discussion of objectivity, about being objective about your case. I suppose if you’re fighting a speeding ticket or something that has less consequence, the objectivity might not be a large factor.

However, faced with the consequences of losing your license, potential jail, steep fines, and having a long-lasting effect on your driving privileges and insurance rates, it’s not a good idea to represent yourself.

My friend had a DUI, was pretty intoxicated, and had a successful case. If I do the same things, will I get the same results?

Some standardized things exist for DUIs in the state of New Jersey. The potential sentences for a first offense, second offense, and third offense are standard.

However, some differences exist between one person’s case and another person’s case, in one court and another court, from one judge to another judge, between one prosecutor and another prosecutor, and from the way an individual attorney goes about defending a DUI case to the way another attorney would handle it.

As such, it’s very hard to presume that the results your friend got would be the same as yours. Each case needs to be sized up individually.

I have a relative or a friend who practices law. He practices a general kind of law. Can he help me out on this?

Any attorney in the state of New Jersey is certainly permitted to represent you.

I’ve found that people who do more work in one area tend to be more in-tune with what the issues are and how to deal quickly with those issues.

If I wanted to find somebody to do a closing for me, I would want an attorney who practices real estate law, for example. He understands what the issues are, he knows what the issues are before I even get my contract, and he can anticipate so much of the case.

I find that with criminal law, this is very similar. Overriding issues exist that even a general attorney would know. However, someone who does a lot of criminal law or, in this case, DUIs, tends to know the relevant issues.

These people speak to a lot of prosecutors; they’re in courts for these cases daily; they take the up-to-date seminars; they buy the up-to-date books; they are constantly evolving with the law, and they’re doing many trials to hone their skills in that specific area.

Any attorney admitted to practice in the state of New Jersey could represent you. However, the question is whether or not you’d be better off with someone who practices this particular area on an ongoing basis, day-in and day-out. Anyone would agree that you’re better off with the person who lives and breathes this area of the law than with someone who does just a few per year.

I should only go with a lawyer who has guaranteed me success on my DUI.

Lawyers should not guarantee any particular results; it’s unethical, it’s immoral, and it’s probably illegal because you can’t guarantee anything.

A lawyer shouldn’t guarantee things to the clients other than guaranteeing that he is the sole practitioner of the case or that he’ll be at the particular court date.

The lawyer can certainly guarantee that he’ll put his best foot forward. However, guaranteeing a particular result crosses into a dangerous and unethical area.

A lawyer is a lawyer. I should just shop around and find the best deal or the cheapest deal.

Money is always an issue, and it’s something that should be considered when choosing a New Jersey DUI Lawyer. But a lawyer is not a lawyer. Some people do more in one area of law and less in another.

Establishing a rapport with the attorney is essential because you have to work with the attorney. You must ask yourself if he is someone who knows the area of the law better than most.

Furthermore, is this an attorney who, if I call him, will get right back to me if he’s in court? Will he pick up his phone? Will he answer the questions I have, even if I’ve asked three or four times?

Therefore, money is a factor. It’s an issue, and it’s always an issue when you’re dealing with consumer products or services.

You cannot, therefore, decide something so serious based only on the price.

DUIs happen to alcoholics and drunk people only.


They’ve had one too many for the legal limit or perhaps two too many for the legal limit. They did not anticipate having any problems when they got behind their wheel. In fact, most of them don’t have problems other than the fact that they are pulled over for some minor traffic offense and it escalates into a DUI arrest.

To answer your question, the people who are arrested for DUIs are, in fact, regular people who probably drink less than most because their tolerances are particularly low. It is a complete shock to them that they’re over the legal limit because they don’t comprehend what their bodies can handle because they don’t drink very often.

These non-drinkers are the ones who suffer the wrath of the written law, listed at 0.08.

I’m hesitant and reluctant about hiring an attorney because of a prior conviction. It wouldn’t be beneficial if I did so, and it would be a waste of money. Maybe I should throw myself to the mercy of the court.

Before doing this, you should speak with a New Jersey DUI Lawyer about your second DUI.

If that first DUI was not counseled by an attorney, this could be a major factor in defending you in the new case.

The best move would be to try to get one or two free consultations to become a little more educated on the issues before deciding.

FAQs and Related Topics

What should you do when charged with a DUI?

You should hire an experienced and dedicated DUI/DWI lawyer. It is most unwise to proceed without expert legal counsel.

Should I hire an attorney for a DUI?

Absolutely. DUI cases in NJ are complex. A DUI/DWI lawyer knows which defenses can be used. An attorney can make negotiations with a prosecutor.

Are there differences between a DUI and a DWI?

DUI means Driving Under the Influence. DWI means Driving While Intoxicated. In NJ, the two terms mean the same.

What can happen if I am found guilty or plead guilty to a second DUI/DWI offense?

You may lose your license for 2 years and spend up to 90 days in jail.

What can happen if I am found guilty or plead guilty to a third DUI/DWI offense?

You may lose your license for 8 years, as well as spend up to 6 months in jail.

What can happen if I am charged with a DUI/DWI for drugs?

A third DUI is still a traffic infraction in New Jersey.
You will most likely be required to serve 180 days in jail.
90 days of your jail sentence may be served in a residential treatment facility.

What is blood alcohol content?

  • BAC is based on a nationwide standard of .08%.
  • You can still be charged for a DUI if you blow .07 BAC or less.
  • DUI charges are increased as your BAC increases.

What happens if I am charged with a DUI in a school zone?

You will be charged with operating in a school zone, which may double your penalties.

What if an underage child/individual was caught drinking and driving? DUI under 21 (underage DUI)?

New Jersey has a zero-tolerance law for anyone under 21, so if you are under 21 and blow a BAC of .01-.07 you will be charged with underage DUI.

How can I defend myself against DUI charges?

Each DUI case is different and can vary based on your situation however, an experienced New Jersey DUI Attorney can use the facts from your case to your advantage.

What is an Alco-test? How does it determine a DUI?

An Alco-Test determines your Blood Alcohol Content. Generally, you will be physically monitored for 20 minutes before taking the test, and when the time comes, police will generally make you blow into the machine for two samples.

How can I defend myself if I refused a breathalyzer?

  • You could have given insufficient samples and still be charged with a refusal.
  • You must be read a required refusal statement by the police. If you weren’t, you may also have a defense.

What is DUI by police observation?

A police officer may observe you driving poorly or smell alcohol in the car, notice bloodshot eyes or slurred speech, or you simply failed the field sobriety tests the officer gave you.

What are DUI observation videos?

An Observation video will show the interaction between the police officer and my client. Field Sobriety Tests are viewable, which can help defend clients.

How can I defend against an observation case?

If you perform the field sobriety tests fairly well, we can use this in court to prove you were not driving a vehicle in an intoxicated state.

What field sobriety tests are there and how do they determine a DUI/DUI?

There are three types of field sobriety tests created by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration. They are as follows:

  1. The Walk and Turn Test
  2. One-Legged Stand
  3. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

You have the right to refuse these tests.

What is an “Allowing a DUI” charge?

Allowing a DUI is based on letting someone drive a vehicle who is under the influence. These penalties can become the same for the owner of the vehicle as it is for the driver of the vehicle. If you Allow a DUI, you could face a license suspension.

Can passengers in the vehicle during a DUI stop help my case?

I will speak with and interview all of the passengers in the vehicle to see if they may remember things you do not that can potentially help your case.

What is the glove box defense?

There are two primary components to the glove box defense. They are as follows:

  • You were charged with a DUI, you consumed alcohol but did not drive.
  • The police arrested you before driving but after you started drinking.

Does NJ offer hardship licenses if charged with a DUI?

In many states a hardship license allows DUI offenders to drive to work or school. Unfortunately, New Jersey does not offer hardship licenses.

How are expert witnesses used in a DUI case?

Most experts are former State Troopers or Police Officers. Their opinion can be used for a plea with the prosecution.

What are DUI motions?

We will review if there is a motion for probable cause to pull you over.

  • Rule 104 determines if the police collected your breath sample correctly.
  • There are motions to suppress urine samples.
  • We can file a motion based on the state’s lack of providing discovery.

Does NJ have speedy trial rules?

New Jersey does have a Speedy Trial Rules, but it does not an exact time frame

What is the 60-day DUI rule?

The court will require your attorney to complete or resolve the case in less than 60 days

What are DUI pretrial hearings?

This hearing lets us determine which evidence can be used against your case. The judge will also determine if the breath test readings are upholdable in court.

What happens at DUI jury trials?

You will be prosecuted in the Municipal Court as a Traffic Offense.

Can you explain the DUI trial process?

95% of DUI cases do not go to trial. You have the right to go to trial and are presumed innocent until completion. Your attorney can cross-examine the arresting police officer.

What happens if I have a suspended license from a DUI?

If your license is suspended, you will not be able to drive. If your license has been suspended for an extended period, you must reinstate your driver’s license at the DMV and pay a fee. Additionally, if you are caught driving on a suspended license, you could face serious jail time.

Community service for DUI offenses?

If you are charged with a first time DUI offense, you will not be required to do community service. However, you will be required to perform community service if you are found guilty of a second DUI offense.

Can I travel to Canada with a DUI?

  • Canada can see the driving records of US citizens.
  • You may be asked if the case is still pending or how it was resolved.
  • You may be detained every time you visit.
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