Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious traffic violation in NJ that can often carry criminal charges as well. Facing arrest for any reason can be confusing and scary. However, understanding what to do in those situations can help you get through them with less stress and anxiety. Working with a Middlesex County DUI attorney will help you understand the charges you face and the steps you can take to reduce them or have them dropped. The sooner you take action to defend yourself in court, the better chance you have for a positive outcome.
What is DUI in New Jersey and How Can a Middlesex County DUI Attorney Help?
New Jersey Statute Section 39:4-50 considers a driver to be driving under the influence if their blood alcohol content level (BAC) is over 0.08%. Health officials have declared this to be the benchmark for when drugs and alcohol start affecting a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle in a safe manner. It’s important to note, however, that there are three levels of intoxication that become especially crucial in a first charge for DUI. The levels and their penalties are:
- BAC between 0.08 and 0.1 – fines up to $400, up to thirty days’ imprisonment, use of an ignition interlock device for three months
- BAC between 0.1 and 0.15 – fines up to $500, up to thirty days’ imprisonment, use of an ignition interlock device for seven months to a year
- BAC above 0.15 – fines up to $500, up to thirty days’ imprisonment, driver’s license suspension for six months, use of an ignition interlock device for nine to fifteen months
The higher a driver’s BAC when arrested, the more severe the penalties are. If you face arrest for any DUI charge, there are some initial steps to take to help improve your chances of a reduced sentence or having your case thrown out altogether.
Be Polite and Follow Orders
A police stop or arrest is a frustrating experience. But it’s important to try and keep a cool head while going through the process. Taking your frustrations out on the arresting officer or any employees of the local station is only going to harm your case. Courts often use acts of defiance and aggression as signs of intoxication in a hearing, so staying calm and following orders given to you by the officers is key to a successful ruling.
The Breathalyzer Test
When you drive on public New Jersey roads, you are automatically giving consent to take a breathalyzer test when asked. Refusal to submit to a test is a violation itself and will cause additional charges and fines to be added to your case.
Right to Remain Silent
Although you should do your best to act cordially and cooperate with the police, you still have rights that the officers must respect. Chief among them is the right to remain silent. Remember, prosecutors can use anything you say during and after an arrest in your hearing. Sharing any information about the specifics of the arrest or accident should be saved until after you have spoken with your lawyer. If the officers ask any questions that could harm your case, politely and calmly respond that you would like to speak with your lawyer first. They cannot force you to talk before meeting with a Middlesex County DUI attorney, and you will not receive any negative charges on your case for waiting.
However, the right to remain silent does not counteract the implied consent laws in New Jersey. You are still legally required to take a breathalyzer test when prompted.
Contact a Middlesex County DUI Attorney
Getting in contact with a Middlesex County DUI attorney is the most important step in your DUI arrest and hearing process for many reasons. First, even requesting a lawyer during your arrest is a sign of controlled reasoning and the ability to understand your situation, all of which can help prove that you were not incapacitated or impaired while driving. Second, a lawyer will help you understand exactly what you need to say and how you need to say it when attending your hearings. Finally, your attorney will know all the specifics of NJ DUI laws and what steps to take to help lessen your charges or have your case dismissed entirely.
Finding a Middlesex County DUI Attorney
If you don’t know of a lawyer offhand, there are ways to find one. What if you are in jail while waiting for your hearing (which is typically only in the case of accidents that cause injury or death)? You can still have a family member or friend find and contact one for you. It’s important to note that while a public defender is less of a financial strain, they typically have higher caseloads and can’t give you the attention you need. Hiring a private DUI attorney is always the best option when financially possible.
The sooner you find and hire an attorney, the better your situation will be. Your lawyer can visit you if you are still in custody and help to arrange your release or negotiate a lower bail. Your first hearing, known as an arraignment, is the most crucial in your case. Getting a lawyer to help you understand your charges and decide on a plea is key to ensuring you get a successful resolution. Courts usually schedule arraignments only a few days after an arrest, so getting in contact with your Middlesex County DUI attorney right away is crucial.
Get Help for Your DUI Case
If you’re facing charges for a DUI, the sooner you act, the better. Attorney Leon Matchin has devoted his practice to helping his clients defend themselves against traffic violations in NJ. As a prominent Middlesex County DUI Attorney, he has the experience and knowledge you need for your case. DUI laws and court processes can be confusing, but you don’t have to navigate them alone. Call Attorney Matchin at 732-887-2479 or send him an email at [email protected] to get help with your DUI arrest and charges.