In New Jersey, the consequences for a DUI conviction could be severe. Burlington County takes intoxication-related driving especially seriously. Police arrested nearly 1,000 Burlington County drivers for DWI in a single year. That accounted for almost 20 percent of all impaired-driving arrests statewide.
Everyone makes mistakes. But if your mistake involved drunk driving or using drugs while driving in New Jersey, you need strong legal representation to give you the best chance of beating the charges. Contact The Law Office of Steven Ellman today for a free consultation with an experienced DUI Attorney in Burlington County.
DUI Charges in New Jersey
The penalties you receive for a DUI or DWI charge in New Jersey depend on whether a prosecutor proves you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the police stopped you. If you were drinking and driving, potential evidence could include the results of a blood alcohol content (BAC) test, which usually comes from a breathalyzer test or a blood or urine sample. An officer’s observations from field sobriety tests might also be part of a drunk driving case.
The penalties for a DUI depend on whether it’s your first charge or a subsequent offense. Fines, driver’s license suspension, ignition interlock device (IID) installation, and jail time are part of a DWI conviction, no matter your prior history. Offenders must also attend programs at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) and face auto insurance surcharges.
First Steps After a DWI/DUI Charge
You have the right to an attorney after being arrested for DUI. The faster you contact a DUI-DWI lawyer, the faster they can get to work on your case. Your attorney may be able to secure bail so that you don’t have to stay in jail while awaiting your court hearing or trial. They can also start investigating the circumstances surrounding your traffic stop and begin constructing your case.
Key Legal Stages in New Jersey DUI/DWI Cases
Your defense is built based on the unique circumstances of your arrest. For the most part, you can expect the DUI process to proceed in the following way:
- Arrest – After an arrest, you’ll likely be held in jail until you can post bond or until you’re sober. If it’s your first offense, then you may be able to be released on bond until your court date. That’s less likely if it’s your second or subsequent offense. It’s smart to hire an attorney at this stage. Your lawyer will start building a DWI defense immediately.
- Arraignment – An arraignment is the formal reading of your DWI charges. A judge will determine whether there is enough evidence to charge you with DWI and inform you of those charges. At this point, you may enter your guilty or not guilty plea. It’s wise to have a Burlington County DWI and DUI lawyer represent you in court and advise you about the pros and cons of either choice.
- Pretrial motions and hearings – Your lawyer may file one or more motions focused on suppressing certain evidence or requesting more information about the prosecutor’s case against you. Other pretrial motions may include moving to exclude from consideration any prior convictions you have for DWI/ DUI, which could affect your sentencing. An attorney may also seek to suppress any statements you made or things you said without the benefit of legal counsel.
- Trial – If your case goes to trial, the prosecutor must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Your lawyer argues on your behalf and presents evidence to counter their claims. Then, the court hands down a verdict.
- Sentencing – If you’re found guilty, you’ll be sentenced according to New Jersey law.
Potential DWI/DUI Defenses
How can a lawyer build a strong DWI defense for you? Multiple defenses could be valid when fighting an impaired driving charge. Some of the more common defense strategies Burlington County DUI and DWI lawyers employ include:
- Questioning the results of the drug or alcohol test – The police officer may suspect that you were under the influence of drugs but might not have the chemical evidence to prove it. A lawyer could also argue that your charges were based on unreliable field sobriety tests, which are subjective opinions. If a breath test took place, attorneys might investigate whether the machine was working correctly or whether someone with appropriate credentials properly administered the test.
- Questioning the validity of the traffic stop – Did the officer have probable cause to pull you over? If it was a bad stop, a DWI attorney could push for your case to be dismissed.
- Establishing that you were not in control of the motor vehicle – If you didn’t have actual physical control of your vehicle (e.g., no keys, engine not running, etc.), you might be able to beat your charges. New Jersey courts consider various factors when determining whether someone is in actual physical control of a vehicle.
Choosing the Right DUI/DWI Lawyer in New Jersey
The prosecutor wants to punish you. Your DUI defense lawyer is your advocate, protecting your rights and fighting for the best possible outcome for your case. Look for someone with experience and tenacity. You’ll find both at The Law Office of Steven Ellman.
Many lawyers offer free consultations, so ask several to review your DWI charges. Make sure that the lawyer you hire knows the ins and outs of impaired driving cases and makes you feel your case is in good hands. If you don’t feel comfortable telling the attorney everything, they aren’t the right DUI lawyer for you.
Possible Outcomes and Implications
Other potential impacts of a DUI/DWI charge in New Jersey include:
- Higher insurance premiums
- Potentially canceled insurance — some carriers will not insure drivers with multiple DUI charges
- Loss of license, either a suspension or revocation, which could affect your job
- Loss of commercial driver’s license (CDL) eligibility
- Loss of reputation in your community
Contact Our Burlington County, NJ, DWI Lawyers
Do you need help after a DWI or DUI charge in Burlington County? Reach out to The Law Office of Steven Ellman today for a free case review. With 35 years of experience and an over 80 percent dismissal rate for DUI and traffic-related charges, our firm has what it takes to help you attain the best possible outcome. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation.