Essex County DWI Lawyer
Over a Decade of Experience Protecting Clients Against the Severe Penalties for DWI and DUI
In New Jersey, a DWI/DUI conviction can lead to jail time, fines and other penalties. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Regardless of the facts of your case, you have defenses available, and you can mitigate the consequences of your drunk driving arrest with the help of an experienced Essex County DWI lawyer.
Essex County DWI Lawyer, Scott Gorman, Explains 7 Critical Facts About Facing a DUI Arrest
1. New Jersey Imposes Severe Penalties for DWI/DUI.
Yes, jail time is a real possibility if you are facing a DWI/DUI charge in Essex County — even if you are underage. If you are a first-time offender, you could be jailed for up to 30 days. If you are a repeat offender, you could be facing up to 180 days behind bars. This is in addition to the various other penalties for DWI/DUI under New Jersey law.
2. DUI/DWI is Not a Crime.
Despite these severe penalties, DWI/DUI is not a crime in New Jersey. However, a conviction will still go on your permanent record, and the fact that DWI/DUI is classified as a “traffic violation” rather than a crime means that you are not entitled to a jury trial.
3. The Municipal Court Process is Lengthy and Complex.
There are several steps in a DWI/DUI case in Essex County. While this means that your defense lawyer will have several opportunities to try to resolve your case favorably without going to trial, it also means that there are many opportunities for missteps along the way.
4. You May Have Multiple Defenses Available.
From challenging the results of your breath or blood tests to asserting your constitutional rights, there are multiple potential defenses to DWI/DUI in New Jersey.
5. You May Need to Assert Multiple Defenses.
In order to avoid a conviction, your Essex County DWI lawyer may need to assert several different defenses on your behalf, some of which will need to be asserted at an early stage of your case. For example, even if you are able to successfully challenge your breath or blood test results, you may still need to challenge other evidence that the prosecutor’s office may be able to use to convict you.
6. The Options for Removing a DWI/DUI from Your Record are Limited.
Drunk driving convictions are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey, and the grounds for challenging a DWI/DUI conviction are limited. This makes it all the more important to fight your charge all the way through trial if necessary.
How do I know if the police had “reasonable grounds” to request a breath test during my traffic stop?
Determining whether the police had “reasonable grounds” to request a breath test requires a thorough assessment of all of the facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest. Why did the officer say he or she pulled you over? Were you showing signs of impairment? How did you behave during your traffic stop? Did you voluntarily take field sobriety tests (FSTs)? These are just some of the questions that need to be answered.
7. Your Initial Consultation with an Essex County DWI Lawyer at The Gorman Law Firm is Free.
At the Gorman Law Firm, your initial consultation with defense attorney Scott Gorman is free. It is also completely confidential, and Scott can make arrangements to meet with you in person as soon as possible.
Penalties for a First Time DUI are Harsh in Essex County
While a DWI is not technically a criminal offense in New Jersey – it is classified as a traffic offense similar to speeding or reckless driving – the consequences are, nevertheless, severe. For a first-time DWI offense in Essex County, you can face penalties including:
- $250-$400 fine
- $275 in additional fees
- $1,000/year surcharge for three years
- Three-month driver’s license suspension
- Up to 30 days in jail
- 12 to 48 hours of mandatory alcohol education at a cost of $230 per day
This assumes that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was just 0.08 or 0.09 percent. If your BAC was 0.10 percent or above, you are facing additional fines and a driver’s license suspension of up to 12 months. If your BAC was above 0.14 percent, the judge may also require you to purchase and install ignition interlock devices for each of your vehicles for 12 months after you regain your license.
In addition, although a DWI is not a criminal conviction, it still goes on your permanent driving record, and DWIs are not eligible for expungement. As a result, if you lose your case at trial, you could face consequences such as increased insurance rates and difficulty finding a job for years – if not decades – to come. Additionally, if you receive another DWI charge within the next 10 years, you will be charged as a repeat offender, and for a second offense you could face a two-year driver’s license suspension and 90 days in jail.
Our Essex County DWI Lawyer Outlines the Most Serious Drunk Driving Arrests: Vehicular Homicide and Manslaughter
If you’ve been drinking and you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, you put yourself at risk for injury and potential legal consequences, including jail time, fines and a criminal record. Additionally, you also put those around you on the road or in your vehicle at risk and if another person is killed as a result of your intoxicated driving, you could be held responsible. Without the help of an Essex County DWI lawyer, the penalties are very severe.
In New Jersey, vehicular homicide refers to the death of any person that was caused by someone else’s reckless behavior in operating a car or other motor vehicle. Reckless conduct is defined as any act that is made with a conscious disregard for the value of human life, and could be anything from driving drunk to ignoring speed limits or stop signs.
If a driver is acting recklessly, and his actions cause the death of another person, he can be charged with a second degree crime. These crimes can be penalized with a five to ten year prison sentence, and typically do include a period of incarceration as part of the sentence. Depending on the reckless acts that caused the death of the victim, the driver could be charged with aggravated manslaughter, which is a first degree crime. The circumstances that lead to aggravated manslaughter charges typically involve reckless acts that have an extreme indifference to the value of human life. First degree crimes can be penalized with a sentence of 10 to 30 years in a state prison.
Drivers who are convicted of first or second degree crimes for vehicular homicide or aggravated manslaughter are also subject to the No Early Release Act. This means that the drivers must serve up to 85% of their sentences before they can be eligible for parole.
For drivers who are operating their vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol, penalties for DUI/DWI crimes can also be assessed as part of a sentence. The driver may be subject to license suspension and fines along with their jail sentence.
Assault by Auto Clarified by Our Essex County DWI Lawyer
For DUI accidents and other car accidents that result in injuries but not the death of that person, assault by auto is the usual charge. How this charge is handled depends on the severity of the injuries sustained, and the conduct of the driver. If the reckless behavior of the driver caused minor cuts, bruises, and other small injuries, he could be charged with a disorderly person’s offense, and sentenced to up to six months in jail, and a $1,000 fine.
However, if the driver is drunk when this accident happens, and causes minor injuries, the charges can be escalated to DWI/DUI assault by auto, which is a fourth degree crime. DUI assault offenders could spend up to 18 months in jail, and pay fines of up to $10,000.
If you’re ever charged with harming or fatally injuring another person as a result of a car accident or reckless driving behavior, get in touch with an Essex County DUI lawyer to discuss your options for defense. The penalties for assault by auto and vehicular homicide and manslaughter are very severe, and can be even worse when compounded with drunk driving charges, so it’s important that you know your options.
What Defenses Do You Have Available to Fight Your Essex County DUI?
1. Were You Sober While You Were Behind the Wheel?
Sometimes the prosecution may not be able to prove that your blood alcohol concentration was at or above the legal limit of 0.08, but the prosecution can still try to prove that you were intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. If the arresting officer claims that you were stopped because you were driving erratically and that he made other observations that would suggest that you were intoxicated or under the influence of one or more drugs, there may be other explanations that have nothing to do with alcohol or drugs.
2. Did the Arresting Officer Violate Your Rights?
If the arresting officer stopped you without reasonable suspicion to believe that you were doing or had done anything wrong or if the officer arrested you without probable cause, then the prosecution’s evidence against you may be inadmissible at trial. The same is true if you were questioned in custody without being read your Miranda warnings. Other police mistakes can provide additional defenses regardless of whether you were drunk behind the wheel.
3. Was the Alcotest Broken of Malfunctioning?
Calibration issues with breath testing instruments can make BAC test results unreliable and it is the State’s obligation to establish that the instrument at issue was properly calibrated and in good working order. While your BAC might not be the prosecution’s only evidence against you, challenging the reliability of your test results could still be a crucial component of a broader DWI defense strategy.
4. Did the Arresting Officer Fail to Properly Administer the Field Sobriety Tests?
Police officers in New Jersey are trained to follow strict protocols when administering the field sobriety tests (FSTs), and they are trained on specific guidelines for interpreting drivers’ performance on the FSTs. If the arresting officer did not follow these protocols and guidelines, then your FST results could also be unreliable.
5. Your Essex County DWI Lawyer May Demonstrate Another Cause of Your High BAC
Various factors can lead to “false positive” readings on the Alcotest. If you blew above the legal limit, the prosecution will still need to prove that the BAC estimate is reliable and that it was not influenced by contamination or some other factor.
Understanding “DWI Refusals”
In New Jersey, in addition to facing penalties for drunk driving, when you get stopped on suspicion of DWI, you can potentially face additional penalties for what is commonly known as “Refusal,” which is short for Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test.
This is a result of the law of “implied consent.” When you drive on New Jersey’s public roads or even a quasi-public road like a parking lot, by law, you consent to taking a breath test if a police officer has probable cause to believe that you drove while intoxicated. The arresting officer must advise you of certain rights when they ask you to submit to a breath test, and he or she must also advise you of the consequences of refusing to submit to testing. However, under the circumstances, it is common for drivers to misunderstand their obligations (or for the arresting officer to fail to meet his or her legal obligations). As a result, it is also common for individuals who have been charged with DWI to face an additional charge for Refusal.
Since a Refusal is a separate offense from a DWI, it is possible to face penalties for Refusal even if you are not found guilty. But, the fact that these are separate offenses also means that there are separate defenses for Refusals as well. Essex County DUI attorney Scott Gorman is experienced in representing clients who refused to submit to the breathalyzer during their DWI arrests, and he can make sure you have every possible opportunity to avoid the license suspension, fines and other financial penalties that can result from a Refusal conviction.
Driver’s License Suspension for a New Jersey DWI
As you can see from these lists of penalties, one of the consequences of any drunk-driving related offense in Essex County is a driver’s license suspension. The length of suspension depends upon your DWI record and whether there are any aggravating factors involved in your case, and can range from three months for a first-time DWI to 20 years for a third or subsequent Refusal in a school zone.
How do I Select an Essex County DWI Lawyer?
In Essex County and throughout the rest of New Jersey, there is no shortage of lawyers who will offer to represent you in your DWI case. You may even know someone who is an attorney or, you may have a friend or family member who previously hired a lawyer for a legal issue in their life, and they may be offering you a referral.
So how do you choose the attorney you want to represent you in court? How do you decide who you can trust when your savings, your freedom and – in many respects – your future are all on the line? Should you hire the first lawyer who offers to help? Or, should you put in the effort to find an experienced Hackensack drunk driving lawyer?
Hopefully, the answer is clear. Drunk driving cases are complicated, especially in New Jersey. New Jersey’s DWI laws and court procedures are unique, the penalties are severe, and a typical case can involve issues ranging from the impact of certain medical conditions on driving ability to violations of the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights. In order to have a clear understanding of the numerous issues at play and to be able to digest this information into a comprehensive and cohesive defense strategy, you need to handle DWI cases on a daily basis. If an attorney is spending time writing wills or handling divorces, he or she may not have the same nuanced and experienced approach as another attorney who devotes his or her entire practice to criminal matters with particular emphasis on DWI defense.
Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation with Essex County DWI Lawyer Scott Gorman
If you need experienced legal representation for a DWI/DUI case in Essex County, contact us now to schedule your free initial consultation with with Essex County criminal defense attorney Scott Gorman. Call 201-489-9199 or tell us how to reach you to start working on your defense today.