Among the many consequences of a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) is having the conviction appear on your permanent driving record. While having your license suspended, spending time in a New Jersey jail and facing the sizable financial penalties that come with a DUI conviction can have drastic consequences in the short term, it is the long-term effects of a DUI conviction that often have the greatest impact on people’s lives.
Consider this: If you have a DUI on your record, this can impact your ability to:
- Find (or keep) a job
- Find reasonably-priced car insurance or life insurance
- Get into school and pursue career opportunities
The penalties for DUI convictions also increase substantially for repeat offenders. With all of these consequences in mind, it is easy to see why anyone charged with DUI in Hackensack or elsewhere in New Jersey should seek experienced legal representation via a Hackensack DUI law firm. But if you have already been convicted, is it too late to speak with an attorney? The answer is a clear, “No.”
Appeals, Post-Conviction Relief and Expungement
First, let’s talk about the options that are (and aren’t) available if you have been convicted of DUI. In New Jersey, DUIs are not eligible for expungement. In New Jersey, a DUI is considered a “traffic offense” instead of a “crime;” and, while this has certain benefits, it also means that DUI convictions cannot be expunged.
As a result, instead of focusing on having your record cleared in the future, if you have recently been convicted, you need to focus on fighting your DUI conviction now. This can be done through filing an appeal or a petition for “post-conviction relief” than can easily be managed by an experienced Hackensack DUI law firm.
DUI Appeals in New Jersey
After a DUI conviction, you only have a limited amount of time to file an appeal. As a result, it is critical that you speak with a Hackensack DUI attorney as soon as possible. There are numerous potential grounds for appeal, and an experienced attorney will be able to identify all of the legal arguments that are available to challenge your conviction. Some of the grounds for appealing a DUI conviction in New Jersey include:
- The State’s failure to present sufficient evidence of one or more elements of DUI
- Legal error during the trial process to permit the admission of evidence that should have been excluded
- An invalid guilty plea
- Admission of evidence relating to breath test (“breathalyzer” or Alcotest) results in the absence of a proper foundation
- Violation of your Miranda rights or your Constitutional right to a speedy trial
Post-Conviction Relief for New Jersey DUIs
While a successful appeal prevents a DUI from ever appearing on your record, a petition for post-conviction relief can have your record erased, somewhat similar to expungement except that if granted, a petition for post-conviction relief would give the State an additional opportunity to prosecute the charge of DUI and any charges that had been dismissed as part of a plea agreement. While most petitions for post-conviction relief must be filed within five years of the conviction, there are certain grounds for which there is no time limitation on your ability to challenge your DUI conviction. Some of the potential grounds for post-conviction relief in a New Jersey DUI case (both time-limited and perpetual) include:
- A “substantial denial” of your rights under the U.S. Constitution or New Jersey law during your trial
- A guilty plea lacking a sufficient factual basis
- Illegal withholding of evidence during trial
- Imposition of an illegal sentence
- Ineffective assistance of counsel at trial or an ineffective waiver of counsel
Contact Our Hackensack DUI Law Firm to Discuss Your Drunk Driving Conviction
If you have been convicted of DUI in New Jersey, it is important that you discuss your options for filing an appeal or a petition for post-conviction relief with an experienced attorney. To speak with a member of our Hackensack DUI law firm in confidence, call (201) 489-9199 or contact us online for a free consultation. You may also contact our Morristown office location.