A Morristown DWI Lawyer Who Will Fight for Your Rights
If you have been arrested for drunk driving, you need a lawyer. In New Jersey, the penalties for DUI/DWI are severe, and include possible jail time even for a first offense. In order to minimize the consequences of your arrest, you need to protect your rights and assert the defenses you have available, and the only way to do this effectively is to hire experienced legal representation. But, will any lawyer suffice? Or do you need to choose a Morristown DWI lawyer?
6 Reasons to Choose a DWI Attorney for Your Drunk Driving Case
There are several reasons why you want a DWI attorney for your case. With everything you have at stake, you simply cannot afford to take chances with your legal representation. An experienced Morristown DWI lawyer will give you the best chance to minimize the consequences of your arrest – if not avoid conviction entirely – and this is what you need when your finances, your freedom and your future are all on the line.
Why should you choose a DWI attorney? The answer is simple:
1. Drunk Driving Cases Are Unique.
DWI cases are unlike other criminal cases in New Jersey. In fact, a DWI case is technically not a criminal case at all. DWI is considered a traffic offense in New Jersey, and this means that your rights are different than in other cases. If your lawyer does not focus on DWI defense, he or she is unlikely to be familiar with the little details that can have a big impact on your defense.
2. You Need an Attorney with Relevant Experience.
You wouldn’t hire a family physician to perform brain surgery, and you wouldn’t hire a roofer to replace your windows. Just like different doctors and contractors specialize in different areas, attorneys focus their practices in different areas of the law. Defending a DWI case is very different from handling a divorce or writing a will, and you need to make sure you choose a Morristown attorney who has experience relevant to your case.
3. You Need a Morristown DWI Lawyer Who Knows How to Identify Potential Defenses.
Along these same lines, in order to build a comprehensive defense strategy, you need to know what defenses are available. Attorneys who do not handle DWI cases regularly are more likely to overlook key facts that are critical to your case. Did your arresting officer see things that would suggest that you were sober even if these observations don’t appear in a police report? Is it possible that even if you were intoxicated at some point after your arrest, you might not have been intoxicated when you were driving? These are the types of questions your attorney needs to be able to answer.
4. The Penalties for Drunk Driving are Harsh, and for Repeat Offenders They are Even Harsher.
The penalties for a “standard” first-time DWI include fines, insurance surcharges, alcohol education, driver’s license suspension, and possible jail time. For second and subsequent offenses, the penalties increase substantially. While avoiding penalties in your current case should be enough to convince you to hire an experienced Morristown DWI lawyer, if it isn’t, the risk of facing even greater penalties if you get arrested again should give you even more reason to take your case extremely seriously.
5. A DWI Conviction in New Jersey Can Impact All Aspects of Your Life.
Finally, beyond the statutory penalties for DWI, a DWI conviction can impact virtually all aspects of your life. You could lose your job, you could get kicked out of school, you could find it difficult to find a new job or get an apartment or loan, and you could face a number of other challenging consequences for decades to come.
6. DUIs are Not Eligible for Expungement in New Jersey
Since a DWI is not a criminal offense, most people are surprised to learn that DWI convictions are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey. With an expungement, after a certain period of time has passed, you can have your record wiped clean without needing to challenge the validity of your conviction. Unfortunately, New Jersey’s expungement law only applies to indictable criminal offenses; and, since a DWI is considered a “traffic offense,” DUIs do not fall within the scope of New Jersey’s expungement statute.
Appealing Your New Jersey DUI Conviction
When you file an appeal, you are seeking to have your conviction overturned. If your appeal is successful, your DUI will never appear on your record. Because of this, the time frame for filing an appeal is limited, and, to find out if you are eligible to file an appeal, you should speak with a DUI attorney as soon as possible.
In New Jersey, individuals convicted of driving while intoxicated can appeal their convictions on the following grounds:
- The prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof;
- The prosecutor or judge made a legal error that could have affected the outcome of your trial;
- Your conviction was based on an invalid guilty plea;
- Your conviction was based on an inadmissible breath test result; or,
- You were deprived of a constitutional right, such as your right to a speedy trial.
Seeking Post-Conviction Relief for a New Jersey DUI
If it is too late to file an appeal, you may be able to file a petition for post-conviction relief with the help of a Morristown DWI lawyer. Since filing a successful petition means proving that your conviction was unlawful, a successful petition can wipe your DUI conviction from your record. Although the time frame for filing a petition for post-conviction relief is much larger than the time for filing a direct appeal, petitions that are filed outside of five years after the conviction may be time barred. Some of the grounds for seeking post-conviction relief in New Jersey include:
- The prosecution illegally withheld evidence during your trial;
- The judge imposed an illegal sentence;
- The judge imposed a sentence based upon a guilty plea that lacked a sufficient factual basis;
- You received ineffective assistance of counsel; or,
- You experienced any other “substantial denial” of your constitutional rights.
Quick DUI Help from a Morristown DWI Lawyer
If you were recently arrested for a first-time DWI in Morristown or elsewhere in the state, it is critical to make sure you have a clear understanding of your situation. This discussion of FAQs with Morristown drunk driving defense lawyer Scott Gorman provide an introduction to some of the key information you need to know:
Is DWI a criminal offense?
No. In New Jersey, DWI is a traffic offense. While this may sound like good news, it actually means that you are deprived of certain rights (such as the right to a jury trial), and a DWI conviction will still go on your permanent record.
What are the penalties for a first-time DWI in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, the penalties for a “standard” first-time DWI (with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or 0.09 percent) include:
- $250-$400 fine
- $350 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
If your BAC was 0.10 percent or above, the maximum fine increases to $300 and your license can be suspended for seven to twelve months. If your BAC was 0.15 percent or greater, you will also be required to install ignition interlock devices in your vehicles (at your expense) for six to twelve months after your driving privileges are restored.
Was I required to take the Breathalyzer test?
Yes, if the officer had reasonable grounds to suspect that you had driven while intoxicated. However, if the arresting officer failed to inform you of certain rights or the penalties for refusing to take the test, this could potentially provide a defense to your DUI refusal.
Was I required to take the field sobriety tests?
No. Unlike the breathalyzer, in New Jersey, you are not obligated to submit to field sobriety tests (FSTs) during a drunk driving traffic stop.
What are some potential defenses to DWI charges?
If you have been charged with DWI, the good news is that there are several potential defenses under New Jersey law and the U.S. Constitution. From a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights to faulty breath testing procedures, understanding the defenses available in your case will require a detailed understanding of the unique facts and circumstances involved.
Will getting convicted of DWI affect my commercial driver’s license (CDL)?
Yes. If you are convicted of a first-time DWI, your CDL will be suspended for a year. A second DWI conviction can result in permanent revocation.
If I get convicted, how long will my DWI stay on my record?
A DWI conviction stays on your record permanently, unless you have grounds to challenge the outcome of your case. Unlike criminal convictions, DWI convictions cannot be expunged in New Jersey. For purposes of the enhanced penalties for second or third DWI offense, the most recent conviction remains relevant for 10 years.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Top Morristown DWI Lawyer
If you are facing drunk driving charges in Morristown, New Jersey, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. To speak with Morristown DWI lawyer Scott Gorman in confidence, call 973-796-3800 or request an appointment online today.