Year: 2017


When Is a DWI/DUI a Misdemeanor or Felony in New Jersey?

Experienced Bergen County attorneys clarify common misconceptions
At the Law Offices of Richard S. Greenberg, we want you to understand how the law in New Jersey operates so you can make good decisions regarding your defense. It can be confusing, because the terminology doesn’t always correspond with the way people speak about crimes. In our state, a lesser crime is called a disorderly persons offense, not a misdemeanor, and a more serious infraction is called a crime, rather than a felony. A standard DWI is neither; it’s categorized as a traffic offense. So if you’ve been arrested for a first-time DWI, you face serious consequences, although you have not technically committed a crime. However, if your DWI involved an accident that caused the injury or death of another person, that’s a very different matter.

Misdemeanor DWI
In New Jersey, a disorderly persons offense is a misdemeanor-type infraction, permitting a sentence of up to six months in county jail, in addition to other fines and penalties. Incarceration periods for DWI/DUI convictions are as follows:

Second offense — 48 hours to 90 days
Third and subsequent offenses — 180 days
For all intents and purposes, a repeat DWI is a misdemeanor, even though it’s categorized as a traffic offense. The major difference is that a person convicted of repeat DWI offenses would not have to admit to a criminal record on a background check.

Felony DWI
Driving while intoxicated in New Jersey can be charged as a crime when it results in the serious personal injury or death of another person. Even if it’s your first DUI, you can be charged with:

Vehicular assault — A crime of the third degree punishable by four to five years in state prison if the driver is found to be in violation of DWI law and serious bodily injury results. This can be enhanced to second degree with a mandatory sentence of five to 10 years if the incident takes place on school property or in a school crossing. It’s a crime of the fourth degree, allowing a sentence of one year to 18 months, if it involves a DWI violation resulting in bodily injury.
Vehicular homicide — A crime of the second degree with a mandatory sentence of five to 10 years if the driver is in violation of DWI law and fatally injures another person
The law gives prosecutors discretion based on their assessment of the harm and the strength of the DWI evidence. An experienced DWI attorney can challenge forensic evidence, which could lead to a reduction or dismissal of criminal charges. For example, if the injuries are slight and the DWI test results are weak, the prosecution may have no choice but to charge assault by auto, a disorderly persons offense, or decline to prosecute altogether. The Law Offices of Richard S. Greenberg fights aggressively to give you every advantage under the law.


How to Get a DWI/DUI Suspension Reduced in New Jersey

Experienced Bergen County defense attorneys fight for your license
For most people in New Jersey, a license suspension is the most burdensome aspect of a DUI conviction. The fines and fees are high, but it’s the license suspension that can bring your life to a complete standstill. A one-hour commute by car can become totally unmanageable when you must rely on public transportation, so if you can’t get a regular ride, you may be out of a job. At the Law Offices of Richard S. Greenberg, we understand the immense burden a prolonged license suspension causes our clients. Fortunately, we have the experience and skill to seek the best results possible given your circumstances.

No conditional license for drivers convicted of DWI
Other states allow drivers convicted of a first-offense DUI to use conditional licenses during the period of their suspension. A conditional license is restricted by time and purpose so drivers can commute to work or school without undue hardship. As a safeguard, these jurisdictions usually order the installation of an ignition interlock device so the driver cannot operate the car after consuming alcohol. However, New Jersey does not offer conditional licenses for any purpose. Once the court issues a license suspension, it’s absolute.

“Wet reckless? is not a statutory option
In many jurisdictions, there are statutory provisions for a plea bargain to a charge of reckless driving with alcohol or “wet reckless.? This allows the driver to escape the mandatory penalties prescribed for DUI. New Jersey law has no provision for wet reckless, so you can’t expect the prosecutor to put that option on the table.

Your only viable option is to find an attorney who can fight
An experienced criminal defense attorney who’s fought DUI cases before can help you avoid or mitigate a license suspension. Our attorneys have successfully managed cases involving first-time and repeat DWI/DUI and misdemeanor and felony DUI. Our attorneys act aggressively to challenge:

The basis for your traffic stop
The probable cause for your arrest
The accuracy and reliability of your Alcotest results
If we are successful in weakening the state’s case against you, we may be able to convince the prosecutor to drop the charges or accept a plea for reckless driving despite the absence of statutory authority. Even if the evidence warrants a conviction, our attorneys can make a persuasive case for the judge to exercise discretion regarding the length of your license suspension.

Dog Bites

New Jersey Attorneys Defend First-Offense DWIs

Don’t go to court expecting a “Mulligan”
Because New Jersey categorizes driving while intoxicated (DWI) as a traffic offense, too many accused motorists take their cases lightly. They think they can represent themselves, show a little contrition in court and leave with a slap on the wrist. It’s a rude awakening when they are hit with mandatory minimum penalties and learn that they have no option for traffic school. Retaining an experienced DWI defense lawyer can prevent you from making another mistake you could regret for a very long time. The Law Offices of Richard S. Greenberg fights aggressively to minimize the effect of your DWI arrest. With us at your side, there will be no surprises. We come fully prepared to challenge the state’s case against you and seek the best results possible.

Penalties for first-offense DWI in New Jersey
If you are convicted of a first-time DWI in New Jersey, your penalty depends on your blood alcohol content level:

Standard DWI (BAC between 0.08 percent and 0.10 percent) — Your license is suspended for three months, and fines and fees will total about $3,900. You could go to county jail for up to 30 days and be forced to attend the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for 12 to 48 hours.
Enhanced DWI (BAC 0.10 percent or greater) — The court suspends your license for seven months to one year, and fines and fees can total as much as $4,000. You could go to county jail for up to 30 days and be forced to attend the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for 12 to 48 hours.
Additional enhancement (BAC of 0.15 percent or greater) — The court orders an ignition interlock device installed during your license suspension and for six months to a year following your license restoration.
Additionally, you should know that a first-time DWI conviction stays on your record and is used to enhance any subsequent DWI offenses.

Facing these kinds of consequences, you definitely don’t want to fight alone. Our attorneys diligently prepare your defense and come to court ready to challenge the evidence against you, including the constitutionality of your traffic stop, probable cause for your arrest and the administration of any BAC testing. In many cases, we can get a reduction in charges to reckless driving or driving with an open container or persuade the prosecution to drop the charges altogether. While no law firm can guarantee results, we make every effort to secure a positive outcome.