Getting convicted for drunk driving or drugged driving in New Jersey is costly. We’re not just talking about the hefty fines. A conviction for driving under the influence can lead to jail time, mandatory license suspension, increased insurance rates, and numerous other potential legal and financial burdens.
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI violation within Bergen County or Northern New Jersey, Hackensack criminal lawyer Alan Peyrouton can help you. He will take the time to listen carefully to the details of my client’s cases and straightforwardly explain your options.
You can trust top-rated DUI defense attorney Alan Peyrouton to fight for your rights and provide personalized attention to help minimize the consequences of your DUI offense.
For many, a first-time DUI arrest is their first intimate contact with the criminal justice and legal system. It’s never a pleasant experience, and the laws, penalties, and terminology can be complex and confusing.
At Peyrouton Law, we believe in educating the public as we do with our legal clients. The more you know about NJSA 39:4-50 — the New Jersey drunk driving statute — the better equipped you’ll be to make decisions that are in your best interests.
In New Jersey, DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) are the same. The terms are interchangeable and refer to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As such, we will go back and forth between DUI and DWI throughout this page.
The legal limit for DUI in New Jersey is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. So if you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you are considered to be legally impaired and can be charged with DUI. However, even if your BAC is below 0.08%, you can still be charged with DUI if the police officer believes that your driving ability has been impaired by alcohol or drugs.
In New Jersey, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs or to allow someone else to drive your vehicle if they’re under the influence.
The penalties for first-time drunk driving conviction include the following:
In New Jersey, violations first-offense violations for driving under the influence of drugs are treated the same as those for DWI (driving while intoxicated). But in addition to the DUI charges, you will likely be charged with drug possession and distribution.
The penalties become much more severe if you are convicted of a second DUI. The penalties for a second-time conviction include the following:
Navigating the New Jersey court system can be complex and overwhelming, and that’s where an experienced DWI defense attorney like Alan Peyrouton can help.
When you meet Alan Peyrouton during your free initial consultation, he will listen attentively to your side of the story. This conversation is a critical first step in understanding your legal options and crafting a strong DUI defense strategy to fit the facts of your case.
When you hire Alan Peyrouton to handle your drunk driving case — you will get:
When police suspect a driver of either driving while intoxicated or under the influence, they must follow specific procedures to make an arrest. Let’s take a look at the DUI arrest process.
For the traffic stop that led to the DWI charges to be valid, it must comply with the rules set by the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling, State v. Carpentieri. Under that ruling, police must have justifiable “reasonable suspicion” to believe that a violation of the traffic laws has occurred to make a stop for DWI.
During the initial stop phase, an officer may approach your motor vehicle, request documentation, and ask questions. The officer will then try to gather probable cause for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If signs of impairment are visible, such as slurred speech or the odor of alcohol, they can become the basis for making a DWI arrest.
Remember that doing well on field sobriety tests won’t necessarily stop you from being arrested for DWI. But it can help to provide a defense in court by showing that you weren’t impaired.
Any New Jersey driver who refuses to take a breath test is breaking the law. Under the state’s “implied consent” law, you have already given your consent to a breath test if suspected of driving while intoxicated.
If a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you are driving while intoxicated and you refuse to take a breath test — you can still be convicted of the DWI refusal charge.
In short, if you refuse to take a breath or a field sobriety test while in New Jersey, you may face penalties similar to someone convicted of a DUI or DWI.
If the police officer determines that there is enough evidence to arrest the driver for suspicion of DWI, they will take the following steps:
If you’ve been recently charged with a DUI in New Jersey — or want to avoid a first DUI charge — knowing how to deal with police officers is critical legal knowledge here.
Even routine traffic stops can be intensely stressful experiences, but knowing your rights and flexing your rights can help you minimize the risk of a DUI charge. Here are four tips that have helped my clients over the years:
If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving in New Jersey, you must appear in municipal court to face the charges against you. This process includes an arraignment and a trial.
The arrangement is your first appearance in municipal court, where the judge will explain the charge, potential penalties, and your legal rights. You will also enter a plea and decide whether you want to hire an attorney. The judge will then schedule another court date.
During subsequent court dates, you or your lawyer will negotiate with the municipal court judge and prosecutor to resolve the case. However, New Jersey does not allow plea bargains for DUI charges. So if your case cannot be resolved through negotiation, it will go to trial.
A knowledgeable DWI lawyer will negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the charges or to obtain a lesser sentence. But an aggressive and skilled DUI attorney will know how to defend you at trial when negotiations are unsuccessful.
During a trial, the prosecutor will attempt to prove that you are guilty of DUI. If found guilty, the judge will sentence you, which may include losing your license, paying fines, and facing other penalties. In limited circumstances, your lawyer may be able to have criminal defense lawyers get your DUI case dismissed.
Remember: In New Jersey, a DWI charge cannot be plea bargained, downgraded, or amended. The municipal judge will find you guilty or not guilty of the driving while intoxicated charge. And if you’re found not guilty, your charge will be dismissed.
If the police illegally stopped, arrested, and searched your vehicle — any evidence they collect may be inadmissible in court.
For peace of mind, you must be confident that you’ve hired the right criminal defense lawyer. During consultations with prospective defense attorneys, here are a few questions you might want to ask them:
That last question is crucial because a large law firm might have multiple criminal defense attorneys. So be sure to ask if the lawyer you meet during your free consultation is the one who gets assigned to your case.
Lastly, when evaluating prospective DUI attorneys, remember that you are hiring them to defend you. If you don’t feel comfortable with this person, move on!
New Jersey law does not require you to hire a DUI lawyer for a first-time offense, but it’s strongly recommended. DUI cases can be complicated, and a good lawyer can help reduce the charges and penalties. Hiring a lawyer may also be cheaper than a DUI conviction’s fines and other costs. So, it’s worth considering.
If your DWI involves an accident with serious physical injury or death, you may be charged with a serious felony. In addition, if you’re charged with driving under a suspended license for a DWI offense, you may face an 18-month prison sentence.
The cost of hiring a DUI lawyer in New Jersey varies depending on the law firm and the complexity of your case. Most lawyers offer free consultations, so you can ask what their fees will be. Before hiring an attorney, ask about payment options and any additional costs associated with the case.
Most defense attorneys will answer this question with a decisive “no.” But here’s another way to look at it. If you want to increase your odds of being found guilty and receiving the harshest possible penalties in your DUI case, then representing yourself is a good idea. However, if you want the best chance of obtaining a dismissal or reduced charges — you should hire an experienced criminal lawyer.
In NJ, a DWI is not a criminal offense, and a DWI conviction will not result in a criminal record. However, a DWI conviction will appear on your driving record forever.
The state also has an early intervention program for individuals at risk of developing a substance use disorder, which aims to prevent drug-related crimes and reduce recidivism.
In all likelihood, a DWI will not appear on a criminal background check. An employer may run an exhaustive background check that includes driving records, in which case a DUI conviction may appear.
If you have been convicted of a DWI while operating your private motor vehicle, you may face a one-year license suspension because of your CDL. But accumulating two DWI convictions will result in a permanent CDL suspension.
No, a New Jersey DUI conviction cannot be expunged from a driving record since it is considered a traffic offense, not a criminal offense. Expungements are only available for criminal offenses.
However, removing a DUI conviction from your driving record after ten years through Post Conviction Relief is possible.
The police in New Jersey uses a twelve-step evaluation called the Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE) to identify motorists driving under the influence of drugs.
If police suspect someone is driving under the influence of drugs, they will typically administer a blood or urine test. If you’re currently facing drug DUI charges in New Jersey, it’s crucial to seek the help of an experienced drug crime attorney who can guide you through the legal process and provide you with the necessary support.
NJ criminal defense lawyer Alan Peyrouton discusses everything you need to know about your legal rights and the law.