DUI as a Quasi-Criminal Action
In New Jersey, a DUI or DWI is not considered a criminal offense. Rather, a DUI, alcohol or other drug-related offense punishable in court is called a quasi-criminal action. Nonetheless, DWI consequences can be severe — especially if your attorney is not experienced in handling these unique and complex cases.
Quasi-criminal offenses are “a class of offenses against the public ‘which have not been declared crimes, but wrongful against the general or local public which it is proper should be repressed or punished by forfeitures and penalties’” (State v. Laird, 25 N.J. 298, 302-03 (1957)).
One 1989 case, Vickey v. Nessler, helped the courts characterize traffic offenses as quasi-criminal for the purpose of “fundamental fairness and essential justice to the accused.” Defendants charged with DUI or DWI are entitled to the same protections anyone facing a criminal offense are afforded. The state must still prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. For this reason, it is essential that you contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible following an arrest to ensure that you are treated fairly in the eyes of the law.
The DUI and DWI Process: What Happens After Arrest?
After the police conclude their business, you will typically be released to a friend or relative who generally agrees to accept responsibility for you for the first 24 hours. The arresting officer will place a date on the ticket notifying you when to appear in court. This is usually within one week of your arrest. If you retain Rosenberg | Perry & Associates as your attorney, you may not have to appear and the court will schedule your case for another appearance three to four weeks later.
During that time, our legal team will handle all communications with the police on your behalf. Rosenberg | Perry & Associates will obtain documentation from the state, which includes:
- Police reports
- Alcotest or breath test records
- Dashboard video
- Forensic analysis documents
- Audio and video files
- Probable cause statements
- All charging documents.
Additionally, we may retain expert witnesses on your behalf to provide reports to offer in your defense. Sometimes the police don’t finish discovery and we’ll have to press the issue — just one of several reasons why it’s crucial to hire an attorney like Rosenberg | Perry & Associates right after your arrest.
Entering a Plea
Once the discovery is complete, our attorneys will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s proofs, which may include probable cause for the motor vehicle stop, failing to comply with Alcotest and breath test procedures and/or missing evidence. Also, we will explore whether you were stopped by an NJ DRE, or Drug Recognition Expert, as this type of officer often claims to have determined your blood alcohol level via visual evaluation. In many DRE cases, We will advise you on whether to plead guilty or go to trial. As experienced N.J. DUI/DWI attorneys, it’s our job to also educate you on all the possible outcomes of your case before we appear in court.
Unfortunately, there is no plea bargaining drunk driving or refusal to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test. In order to prevail against a DUI/DWI charge, you must show the state the weaknesses make it unlikely they will prevail.
Sentencing and Appeal
If you elect to go to trial, your case will be presented before a municipal court judge. New Jersey does not permit jury trials for DUI/DWI offenses. The state will present witnesses and our legal team will attempt to undermine the state’s case. If we’re successful, the charges will be dismissed.
If you plead guilty or are found guilty, the court will impose fines, immediately suspend your license and potentially put you in jail. If sentenced to jail, it is not uncommon for your sentence to begin immediately.
If you choose to appeal a DUI/DWI conviction, the appeal is taken to the superior court in the county where the municipality is located. For example, if you were arrested in Mount Holly, the Superior Court of Burlington County would hear your appeal. The court will decide the case anew based upon the facts and evidence presented in the municipal court. No new testimony or evidence is permitted during an appeal proceeding.
Cost of a DUI in New Jersey
While the mandatory fines and suspensions for drunk driving or other DUI convictions vary depending on the offense number (first, second, third, etc.) and the circumstances of the case, there are several penalties and fines you can expect for all DWI charges:
- Minimum fine
- Safe neighborhood fund
- Victim compensation fund
- Law enforcement assistance fund
- License reinstatement fee
- Alcohol education classes
- Auto insurance rate increase
- Motor vehicle commission (MVC) surcharge
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI) surcharge
- Car tow fee
- Car storage fee
The average cost of pleading guilty to DUI in New Jersey is approximately $4,000, not including any insurance charges you may fact, which could be an additional $1,000 or more per year for three years.
What’s more, each DUI or DWI charge comes with the potential for jail time. For a first offense, defendants will likely be able to avoid any jail time, but a second conviction for DUI or DWI in New Jersey comes with a mandatory jail sentence ranging from a minimum of 48 hours to a maximum of 90 days. It can be frightening and shocking to find yourself in a car accident; sometimes people depart before authorities arrive. The penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in NJ after driving under the influence is more severe. No matter your circumstances, having an experienced DUI/DWI defense lawyer can limit or avoid these consequences.
Our Defenses for DUI and DWI
Rosenberg | Perry & Associates may utilize a variety of defenses to challenge DUI and DWI charges throughout New Jersey. Examples of these defense options may include:
- Illegal motor vehicle stop
- Failure to provide discovery, or evidence
- Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST)
- MVR (Mobile Video Recorder)
- Failure to read implied consent warnings
- Certification deficiencies
- Twenty-minute period of observation
- Proper operation of the Alcotest 7110
- Blood collection
- Drug Recognition Evaluations (DRE)
- Medical conditions
- Police reports
- Bad weather
In addition, we can also help you navigate several state resources related to driving under the influence charges:
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission website: www.state.nj.us/mvc/
Insurance surcharge & judgments: 609-292-7500
Intoxicated driving programs general information: 609-588-3540
School IDRC scheduling: 609-588-3530, 609-588-3531
Suspensions and restorations: 609-292-7500
Protect Yourself From DWI Charges
Hiring an attorney as soon as possible following your arrest is your best shot against having a DWI charge permanently on your record. Not only is the entire Rosenberg | Perry & Associates team dedicated to providing compassionate, aggressive legal services, but our principal Daniel Rosenberg is also one of only a select few lawyers in New Jersey certified to operate the Draeger Alcotest 7110 device. With this unique certification, our team can prove if the arresting officer did not follow all protocols before entering the Alcotest results in court.
If you’re looking for experienced criminal defense for DUI or DWI charges in New Jersey, call Rosenberg | Perry & Associates today for a free consultation.
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