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Monmouth County DWI FAQ

What Is A Prior DWI Conviction?

Person making a cigarette Prior convictions include any criminal offenses that are listed on your criminal record. You may have been previously convicted of an impaired driving offense in New Jersey or elsewhere in the past. Different states use different names for impaired driving, such as Driving Under the Influence or Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (OVUII). Don't look at the label when trying to discern if you have a prior DWI conviction on your record—assess whether any entries on your criminal record concern the act of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

New Jersey law states that any prior conviction within the past 10 years will impact your sentencing for a subsequent offense. This means that if your only prior DWI offense is more than 10 years old, your current offense will be sentenced as a first offense, not a second.

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Can Someone Under 21 Be Charged With DWI?

Yes. In fact, those under the legal drinking age are not allowed to have even a trace of alcohol in their bloodstream since they legally cannot purchase or consume alcoholic beverages. Penalties for an underage DWI include:

  • License suspension for 30-90 days
  • Mandatory participation in a rehabilitation program
  • Mandatory 15-30 days of community service
  • $1,000 surcharge to the DMV

If a minor is convicted after recording a BAC over 0.08%, they can face all the penalties that an adult would.

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What Is The Maximum Legal BAC For A Commercial Driver?

When operating a commercial vehicle, the maximum driver BAC is 0.04% under New Jersey law. This is a very low BAC, and even one drink could put you over the limit. The law also prohibits operating a commercial vehicle if you are under the influence of a controlled substance. As a result, one joint or even two prescription medications might be enough to result in a conviction.

Those with a commercial driver's license (CDL) face enhanced penalties for any DWI conviction. If this is your first DWI arrest, your CDL could be revoked for a year. If you are convicted a second time, you could lose your CDL permanently. These penalties may apply even if you weren't driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the arrest. You must simply be a CDL holder with a conviction or two on your record for these consequences to be triggered into effect.

We strongly encourage that commercial drivers meet with a New Jersey DWI lawyer if they have been charged with impaired driving. If you're facing DWI charges, your livelihood is on the line. We will do everything possible to help you keep your license so you can continue to work.

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What Is A New Jersey Drug DWI?

New Jersey law prohibits driving while intoxicated. Impaired driving offenses may also involve being impaired by narcotics, hallucinogens, or habit-performing drugs, as well as prescription drugs and other substances capable of impairing driving-related judgment. Impaired driving offenses involving substances other than alcohol are commonly referred to as drug DWIs.

The penalties associated with a drug DWI conviction are very steep. In fact, a first drug DWI is treated like a DWI involving a high BAC. For a first conviction, you are facing:

  • $300-500 in fines
  • 12-48 hours at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • Up to 30 days in prison

Even worse, you will forfeit the ability to drive in New Jersey for 7 to 12 months, and there's no way to get out of that situation. Someone with an alcohol DWI could immediately install an ignition interlock device and start driving. But those convicted of a drug DWI don't have that option for up to a year. Once your license is reinstated, you might still need to install an IID for some amount of time.

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Can I Face Other Criminal Charges For A Drug DWI?

Yes. If the police find you in possession of illegal drugs, they can charge you with possession. Drug possession is typically charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Not only will you have a criminal record, but you will also face the significant possibility of being forced to serve a term in jail or prison. Fortunately, Attorney Breslow-Testa can craft a strong drug charge defense on your behalf in addition to handling your DWI case.

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Can I Get A Drug DWI For Using Prescription Drugs?

Yes. Many narcotics, sleep aids, and other drugs with the potential for impairment are prescription drugs. If they impair your ability to drive, you can face DWI charges, even if you have a valid prescription for the drugs. You could even be charged with a DWI for using over-the-counter drugs capable of causing impaired function or judgment. New Jersey expects you to use medications responsibly, which involves reading the labels to assess potential side effects. Many medications cause fatigue, which makes driving dangerous.

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How Could The State Prove I Had Drugs In My System?

After your arrest, the police will probably take you to meet with a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) who will perform a series of tests. They will also likely require a urine test or blood draw. These tests can identify most drugs that may be detected in humans.

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Can Someone Who Lives In A Different State Face New Jersey Charges?

Yes. Being a citizen of New York or Pennsylvania, or another state doesn't shield you from the impact of a New Jersey DWI conviction. If you commit a crime in New Jersey, you can face criminal consequences in New Jersey, regardless of where it is that you call home.

Because New Jersey probably didn't issue your driver's license, the state can't suspend it. But the state can share information about your conviction with your home state. That means that your home state will probably suspend your license for driving under the influence. Note that any DWI conviction in New Jersey will likely count as a "prior" conviction for purposes of your home state's DWI laws as well.

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Will My Vehicle Be Impounded After My Arrest?

Yes. There is a law that states that the vehicle of an alleged DWI offender "shall" be impounded by the arresting officer for at least 12 hours after the arrest in question. The vehicle will be released to someone else after 12 hours if they show a valid driver's license, insurance, and proof of ownership or authority to operate the vehicle. The person picking up your car also must show they can operate it safely, which means that they can't be intoxicated either.

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What Happens If I Refuse A Breath Test?

Any refusal of blood alcohol testing is a violation of the implied consent provisions of New Jersey law. You can face a set of penalties simply for this refusal:

First Refusal
  • $300-500 in fines
  • $100 fee to the Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund (DDEF)
  • License suspension until you install an ignition interlock device (IID)
  • IID for 9-15 months
  • Up to 48 hours at the IDRC
Second Refusal
  • $500-$1,000 in fines
  • $100 to DDEF
  • License suspension for 2-4 years
  • Ignition interlock device for suspension period and additional 2-4 years after restoration of license
  • Mandatory IDRC (usually 48 hours)
Third Or Subsequent Refusal
  • $1,000 fine
  • $100 to DDEF
  • License suspension for 8 years
  • IID for duration of suspension and 2-4 years following restoration of license
  • Mandatory IDRC

These fines are likely to increase in the coming years. As a result of these automatic penalties, it is generally advisable to submit to BAC testing and allow an attorney to try to get that evidence excluded, as opposed to placing yourself in a position to be punished automatically.

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Why Am I Being Charged With Refusal When I Blew Into An Alcotest Device?

You might be charged with refusal if you provide short samples. Essentially, this means your efforts are being perceived as "not really trying" to blow into the machine. The state may believe that you intentionally tried to trick the machine, so they are treating that as a refusal. You also must give two samples. If you only gave one, then refusing to give the second may be treated as a refusal violation.

In New Jersey, you can be convicted of a refusal offense for giving a short sample or failing to repeat a sample. However, there might be legitimate reasons you couldn't blow properly. If you had asthma or a cold, you might have been out of breath. An attorney might be able to successfully argue that your failure to give an adequate sample wasn't intentional.

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Can I Beat A Charge For Refusing A Breath Test?

It's possible. There are three primary defenses to this charge that have legitimate potential to be successful:

  • You didn't understand what you were supposed to do. For example, you might not speak English that well, and no interpreter was provided. Your silence or refusal to blow could have resulted from mere confusion.
  • You have a serious medical condition. This can lead to short samples or even an outright refusal if you don't want to make your condition worse.
  • You didn't understand your rights. The police must read several paragraphs that explain what happens if you refuse to give a sample. They might not have read this statement or not read all of it.

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Can I Be Convicted Of Refusal If I Am Acquitted Of DWI?

Yes. It's possible to win your DWI case but lose your refusal case. Each case relies on different evidence. When it comes to DWI, a police officer's testimony that you appeared intoxicated might not be persuasive. For that reason, a judge might find reasonable doubt and acquit you. But there might be no doubt you refused BAC testing. If so, you will be punished for your refusal. Call 732-784-2880 or connect with us online to connect with Tara Breslow-Testa and Associates today about the circumstances you're facing so that we can begin building a strong defense strategy on your behalf.

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I Had A Child In The Car With Me, Will I Face Greater Penalties?
Little Kid

Yes. Any parent or guardian with a minor (17 or younger) in the car will face a disorderly persons offense if they are convicted of impaired driving. Penalties for a conviction include:

  • $1,000 fine
  • Maximum 6 months in jail
  • Up to 5 days of community service
  • Up to 6 months license suspension

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What Is An Ignition Interlock Device?

Think of this as a breathalyzer device wired into your car. Your car won't start until you blow into it. The IID will start the car if your BAC is below a certain threshold (usually 0.05%). If your BAC is too high, the car won't start.

Ignition interlock devices have made it possible for those with a DWI conviction to get back to driving more quickly than they would otherwise be allowed to by law. As long as you don't drink and drive, you should have no problems with the device. You will be required to pay to install it, and the timeframe during which you'll be required to use it will depend upon the charges you're facing.

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Can I Get Around Using An Ignition Interlock Device?

Some people try. For example, they might have someone else blow into the device for them, or they'll drive a car that doesn't have an IID installed. New Jersey has anticipated such efforts.

New Jersey will suspend your license for a year if you have someone else blow or you drive a vehicle without an IID. You can also face a one-year suspension for not installing the device as required unless you have a valid reason for the delay.

Someone who helps you circumvent the IID can face a disorderly persons offense for:

  • Tampering with the IID
  • Blowing into the IID for you
  • Knowingly renting or lending you a vehicle without an IID installed

This means you could end up in jail for trying to help someone avoid using an IID.

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How Do I Get My Ignition Interlock Device Removed?

Let's say you refused a chemical test, and the judge ordered that you have an IID on your vehicle for 15 months. At the end of 15 months, you can't just get the device removed. Instead, you'll need a certificate from the IID vendor showing that you maintained the device and didn't register a high BAC. The device might need to stay on your car longer if you can't get the certificate.

Ideally, once you have the device installed, you'll never try to drink and drive. Unfortunately, some people do, and then they blow a high number. The state will find out about this failed attempt to drink and drive. Consult a New Jersey DWI lawyer for assistance if you're facing such circumstances.

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Should I Just Plead Guilty To Get My Case Over With?

No. It might feel like the walls are closing in, but you can still beat a DWI charge. Allow our firm to analyze all the evidence and analyze the best ways to craft a defensive strategy on your behalf. Of course, it might make sense later to plead guilty, but you should never do so automatically.

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Are The Police Required To Read Me Miranda Rights?

Yes, if they arrest you. Miranda warnings are required before the police can begin a custodial interrogation. This means asking you questions while under arrest. They don't have to give warnings when they first ask you to roll down your window and ask you to identify yourself.

If the police failed to give Miranda warnings, we can ask a judge to suppress any statements you made after your arrest. Still, the state can present other evidence that shows you were intoxicated, such as Alcotest or urine sample results.

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How Will A New Jersey DWI Affect Me Later In Life?

A DWI will remain a permanent part of your driving record. As a result, a future employer could find out about your conviction by pulling a background check. This might make getting a job much harder.

It might be harder to rent an apartment for the same reason. Landlords seek to avoid tenants who are likely to cause damage or to be disruptive. A DWI on your driving record is evidence of poor judgment.

You will also see an increase in your car insurance premiums. In this economy, you'll probably want to avoid any increased expenses. Most people pay thousands of dollars for years on end due to a DWI.

Lastly, any DWI will count as a prior conviction. If you make another mistake in the future, your penalties will increase. There is no reason to have a DWI on your record if you can prevent it. Call 732-784-2880 or connect with us online to schedule a consultation with Tara Breslow-Testa and Associates today to start building the strongest possible defense on your behalf.

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Part - 2

Client Reviews
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"I called Tara on a Sunday morning and to my surprise, she returned my call that same day. My son was facing serious criminal charges in Monmouth County that could have affected him for the rest of his life. However, Tara dug in and worked the case that resulted in a better than expected disposition. I HIGHLY recommend her to anyone facing any serious criminal charges." Jose
"Tara presented my case in a positive way, which resulted in a more favorable outcome for me. She advised me very well and helped me prepare for my court appearance. Tara is a very reliable and experienced attorney. If it weren't for her assistance, I would not have had such a positive outcome in my court appearance." Anonymous