Driving under the influence is a charge taken seriously according to New Jersey law. Whether you’re driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you’re held to the laws and statutes stated in N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. Penalties for DUI charges include jail time, fines, and possible license suspension. Hiring a DUI lawyer in NJ can help you understand the charges you face. Your attorney can assist you with navigating both court and DMV procedures while ensuring that your rights and interests are protected. 

Understanding DUI Charges

Just because you are charged with driving under the influence doesn’t mean that the ticket will always stick. New Jersey law requires the state to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a driver was operating a vehicle while intoxicated. There are two major points considered when convicting a driver of a DUI charge.

Per Se Case

With most DUI charges, the proof is often in the science. A breathalyzer or blood test can reveal a driver’s blood alcohol content levels. If their levels are greater than 0.08, they are considered legally intoxicated. If they were operating their vehicle at the time of the test, they could be charged with driving under the influence, even if their driving didn’t appear to be negatively affected.

Observation Case

In an observation case, the ‘proof’ of the influence of drugs or alcohol is based on the arresting/ticketing police officer’s testimony. An officer’s testimony can indicate whether a driver appeared physically intoxicated and whether being intoxicated affected their operation of a vehicle. A successful conviction based on an observation case includes:

  • Erratic driving (this is where it all starts, whether a driver is speeding or weaving)
  • The physical appearance of the driver
  • The presence of alcohol odor
  • Admission of drinking alcohol by the driver or passengers
  • Slurred speech
  • Field sobriety tests

While a breathalyzer test and blood alcohol content levels are the main sources of proof, DUI charges can still be handed out even if the driver does not have a high enough BAC. For example, a police officer may pull over a driver who was swerving back and forth between lanes. If the driver has bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, they’ll likely be charged with driving under the influence, even if a breathalyzer test reports a BAC of only 0.05.

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Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

The importance of an observation case can come into play when a driver refuses to take a breathalyzer test or other BAC test. While refusal to partake in a breathalyzer test carries its own punishments according to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4(a), drivers can still be convicted of a DUI charge based on police officer testimony and the fact that they refused to take the tests.

Related DUI Charges

When you face charges of driving under the influence, you’ll likely face more than just that ticket. Charges often associated with DUI cases include:

  • Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Driving with an open container of alcohol in the car
  • Possession of drugs

Because DUI charges themselves can be complex, working with a DUI lawyer in NJ can help you sort out the various tickets associated with your case and formulate the best plan of action to deal with them.

Penalties for DUI Charges in NJ

When you are convicted of a DUI charge, you’ll face a variety of penalties. Everything from fines and community service to jail time is fair game. The severity of your penalties will differ on a case-by-case basis, and it’s important to have your NJ DUI lawyer present to help ensure your rights are protected and your penalties are in line with the actual charges of your case.

Financial Penalties

The financial burden of a DUI charge is a hefty one. Not only do you have to pay court fees and ticket fees, but you’ll also suffer increased insurance premiums that will affect your financial situation for months to come. More than that, license suspension and required attendance at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center can affect your work schedule and daily life. Financial impacts will vary depending on the severity of any accidents and your previous driving record. Fees include:

  • Up to $1000 in fines
  • Insurance surcharges upwards of $3000
  • $100 DUI enforcement surcharge
  • Up to $300 in associated intoxicated driving programs and funds

Working with a DUI lawyer in NJ can help you ensure that you aren’t being taken advantage of with your financial punishments.

License Suspension

For most DUI cases, license suspension is a common penalty. While more severe cases can land you with upwards of 10 years without your driver’s license, minor charges aren’t quite as extreme. For many drivers facing their first DUI charge, a license can be reinstated with the installment of an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. While the ignition device will need to be installed for a few months, drivers will still be able to operate their vehicles and continue with their lives. Drivers facing their second DUI charge will have their license suspended for one to two years. They will be able to restore their driving privileges with an ignition interlock device installed 

Find a DUI Lawyer in NJ

If you face DUI charges, you’ll need an experienced and knowledgeable DUI attorney on your side. Attorney Leon Matchin has devoted his practice to defending his clients and protecting their rights in court. As a dedicated DUI lawyer in NJ, he’ll work tirelessly to help you understand the charges you face. You can also discuss your next steps in the process. He’ll defend you in court and help you navigate DMV procedures. If you were charged with driving under the influence, contact Attorney Matchin today at (833) 732-7320. You can also email him at [email protected] to schedule a consultation about your case.