Are you facing a first-time charge of driving under the influence (DUI) in New Jersey? Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a conviction for DUI carries only minor penalties. Instead, you may face jail time, fines, and loss of your driving privileges. A DUI conviction can have significant consequences for your personal and professional life. Get the legal help you need to protect your reputation and future. Turn to New Jersey DUI defense attorney Steven Ellman for straightforward advice and aggressive advocacy.
For more than 35 years, Steven Ellman has fought for the rights and interests of clients facing DUI charges in New Jersey. Steven Ellman is highly respected by his peers and has a reputation for providing knowledgeable, skilled representation inside and outside the courtroom. He offers clients compassionate, personable, and dedicated service and wants to give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your DUI case is receiving the attention it deserves.
Steven Ellman understands that every case is unique, so he knows to develop a tailored legal strategy aimed at mitigating the impact of your DUI charges as much as possible. Depending on the circumstances, that could mean beating or having the charges against you dropped, pleading to reduced charges, or taking another approach altogether.
Are you facing a first-time DUI charge in New Jersey? Then reach out to the Law Office of Steven Ellman for a confidential case evaluation about your legal options. Let Steven Ellman advocate on your behalf in pursuit of a favorable resolution to your case.
What Are the New Jersey DUI Laws?
New Jersey’s DUI law is outlined in New Jersey Statutes §39:4-50. Under this statute, a motorist may not operate their vehicle on a public road or in a public area while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic or hallucinogenic drug. An impaired driver who cannot safely operate a motor vehicle may be charged with DUI. A motorist can also be charged with DUI regardless of their ability to drive if they have any detectable amount of narcotic or hallucinogenic drug in their system. Most drivers can be arrested for DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. However, commercial drivers operating commercial vehicles can be arrested for DUI with a BAC of 0.04 percent or more, while drivers under 21 can be arrested if they have any measurable BAC.
Under New Jersey law, any person who operates a motor vehicle on New Jersey’s public roads is considered to have given their consent to drug and alcohol testing during a DUI arrest. The New Jersey implied consent law requires a driver who has been arrested to submit to breath, blood, or urine chemical testing upon the request of an arresting officer. While police cannot physically force a driver to submit a breath, urine, or blood sample for testing, a driver who refuses to submit to a lawful request for chemical testing may face administrative sanctions for their refusal, including suspension of driving privileges.
What Are Common Charges for a First DUI in New Jersey?
According to the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety (HTS), a person can be charged with DUI in New Jersey if they:
- Have a BAC of 0.08 percent or more
- Are under 21 and have any detectable alcohol in their system
- Have detectable narcotic or hallucinogenic drugs in their system
- Are intoxicated by alcohol or drugs to the point they cannot safely operate a motor vehicle, regardless of the amount of alcohol or drugs in their system
Under New Jersey law, operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 percent or more or while under the influence of a controlled substance is prohibited.
Is a First Offense DUI a Felony in New Jersey?
New Jersey does not consider drunk driving an indictable crime (the equivalent of a felony in other states) but rather a serious traffic offense. A first-time conviction for DUI in New Jersey does not include penalties typical for felony convictions, such as time in jail. However, certain aggravating circumstances may result in an indictable crimes charge, such as:
- Driving under the influence while having your license suspended or revoked for a prior DWI conviction
- Fleeing the scene of a motor vehicle accident that resulted in bodily injury or death
- Causing an accident resulting in serious bodily injury
- Causing an accident in a school zone that results in bodily injury
- Causing an accident resulting in death
Common Defenses Used in First DUI Cases
Even if you have been arrested for a first DUI, you may have defenses available to contest the charges. Common defenses used in first-time DUI cases include:
- Challenging the scientific reliability or the validity of field sobriety tests or drug impairment recognition evaluations performed by police.
- Challenging the reliability of chemical testing performed following an arrest, such as by showing that testing equipment was not calibrated, testing protocols were not completed, or police failed to maintain the chain of custody of blood or urine samples.
- Collaborating with expert witnesses, if necessary, to provide persuasive testimony regarding any field sobriety or chemical testing that was performed.
- Moving to exclude any evidence obtained following an arrest by showing that the traffic stop occurred without reasonable suspicion or probable cause of a crime or traffic violation or by showing that police improperly conducted a DWI checkpoint.
- Presenting evidence to create reasonable doubt over whether a driver was in control of a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
- Moving to exclude any statements obtained by the police in violation of an individual’s rights, including due to the police’s failure to advise an arrestee of their Mirandarights or failing to allow an arrestee to consult with an attorney before questioning.
What Are Penalties for a First DUI in New Jersey?
Penalties under New Jersey law for first-time DUI convictions vary depending on the circumstances.
A first-time conviction for driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher but less than 0.10 percent may carry penalties including:
- Fines of $250 to $400
- A possible jail term of up to 30 days
- Forfeiture of driver’s license until the defendant installs an ignition interlock device, with the device to remain installed for three months
- A minimum of two six-hour sessions over two consecutive days at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC)
- Auto insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years
A first-time conviction for driving with a BAC of 0.10 percent or higher but less than 0.15 percent, or while under the influence of a narcotic or hallucinogenic drug, may carry penalties including:
- Fines of $300 to $500
- Jail term of up to 30 days
- Driver’s license forfeiture until the installation of an ignition interlock device, which must remain installed for seven to 12 months
- A minimum of six hours per day for two consecutive days at an IDRC
- Auto insurance annual surcharge of $1,000 for three years
A first-time conviction for driving with a BAC of 0.15 or more includes additional penalties such as:
- License suspension of four to six months
- An ignition interlock device to remain installed during the period of suspension and for nine to 15 months following license restoration
Can a First DUI Be Dismissed in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, a prosecutor normally cannot dismiss a DUI charge unless a defect in the case precludes the state from continuing to prosecute the charge. Therefore, obtaining a dismissal of a first-time DUI charge requires challenging the foundation of the prosecution’s case against you. This may involve challenging the reliability of breath, blood, or urine testing performed or moving to exclude evidence from the case because it was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights.
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer for a First DUI Case in New Jersey
Facing charges of DUI can cause you significant stress and anxiety. You may be worried about the consequences of an arrest or conviction on your personal and professional life. You don’t have to face this anxiety and worry alone, though, because criminal defense lawyer Steven Ellman can help you by:
- Thoroughly investigating your case to recover any evidence that may help prepare an effective defense strategy for you.
- Advocating for your rights throughout your case, including standing up for you if police attempt to unlawfully question you or seize chemical testing samples or other evidence from you.
- Discussing your legal options and preparing you for what to expect at each stage of the case.
- Moving to challenge and exclude the prosecution’s evidence for being unlawfully obtained or unreliable and moving to dismiss your charges if the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to bring you to trial.
- Presenting a persuasive argument in your defense if you choose to fight your charges at trial.
Contact a New Jersey DUI Defense Attorney Today
Are you facing a first-time DUI charge in New Jersey? You deserve a vigorous defense of your rights and freedoms — and the Law Office of Steven Ellman can provide it. Contact New Jersey DUI defense lawyer Steven Ellman today for an initial consultation about your charges and to learn more about what to expect in your case.