Defense of New Jersey
DWI and Criminal Cases

 

New Jersey’s traffic laws are among the strictest in the U.S.  For instance, a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI), also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI), carries harsh penalties, often including suspension of driving privilege and sometimes a jail term.  Sections of N.J.S. 39:4-50, defining the offense of DUI in New Jersey, are quoted below for convenient reference.  Anyone accused of a DWI offense should retain a top DUI defense lawyer.

In prosecutions for criminal offenses as well as motor vehicle offenses, the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Every defendant needs an experienced attorney.  Find out why Bartholomew Baffuto, Esquire is regarded by many former and present clients, and by many lawyers as the Best DUI Attorney In NJ to defend a DUI charge.

What’s the Legal Definition of “Driving” as an Element of Driving Under the Influence?

Operating a Vehicle

DUI laws in some states prohibit “driving” under the influence, meaning the vehicle must have been in motion to secure a conviction. However, New Jersey and other states require proof only that the accused was in “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle, and that an accused operated that vehicle, e.g., by sitting in the driver seat while having the ignition key.  It is quite possible to be found guilty of DUI even though the car didn’t move at all.

Under the Influence

DUI laws include per se and impaired definitions. A conviction can be based on being impaired by drugs or alcohol, or based on the alcohol content measured in blood or breath, which is referred to as “per se”, i.e., independent of appearance of impairment.

Laws Defining DUI Offenses in NJ

N.J.S. 39:4-50

(a) A person who operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant’s blood or permits another person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug to operate a motor vehicle the person owns or which is in the person’s custody or control or permits another to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant’s blood shall be subject:

(1) For the first offense:

(i) if the person’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher but less than 0.10%, or the person operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or the person permits another person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor to operate a motor vehicle owned by him or in his custody or control or permits another person with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher but less than 0.10% to operate a motor vehicle, to a fine of not less than $250 nor more than $400 and a period of detainment of not less than 12 hours nor more than 48 hours spent during two consecutive days of not less than six hours each day and served as prescribed by the program requirements of the Intoxicated Driver Resource Centers established under subsection (f) of this section and, in the discretion of the court, a term of imprisonment of not more than 30 days .  In addition, the court shall order the person to forfeit the right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State until the person installs an ignition interlock device in one motor vehicle the person owns, leases, or principally operates, whichever the person most often operates, for the purpose of complying with the provisions of P.L.1999, c. 417 ( C.39:4-50.16 et al.);

(ii) if the person’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.10% or higher, or the person operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or the person permits another person who is under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug to operate a motor vehicle owned by him or in his custody or control, or permits another person with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10% or more to operate a motor vehicle, to a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $500 and a period of detainment of not less than 12 hours nor more than 48 hours spent during two consecutive days of not less than six hours each day and served as prescribed by the program requirements of the Intoxicated Driver Resource Centers established under subsection (f) of this section and, in the discretion of the court, a term of imprisonment of not more than 30 days ;

in the case of a person who is convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug or permitting another person who is under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug to operate a motor vehicle owned by the person or under the person’s custody or control, the person shall forfeit the right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period of not less than seven months nor more than one year;

in the case of a person whose blood alcohol concentration is 0.10% or higher but less than 0.15%, the person shall forfeit the right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State until the person installs an ignition interlock device in one motor vehicle the person owns, leases, or principally operates, whichever the person most often operates, for the purpose of complying with the provisions of P.L.1999, c. 417 ( C.39:4-50.16 et al.);

in the case of a person whose blood alcohol concentration is 0.15% or higher, the person shall forfeit the right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period of not less than four months or more than six months following installation of an ignition interlock device in one motor vehicle the person owns, leases, or principally operates, whichever the person most often operates, for the purpose of complying with the provisions of P.L.1999, c. 417 ( C.39:4-50.16 et al.);

(iii) (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2019, c. 248 )

(2) For a second violation, a person shall be subject to a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000, and shall be ordered by the court to perform community service for a period of 30 days, which shall be of such form and on terms the court shall deem appropriate under the circumstances, and shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than 48 consecutive hours, which shall not be suspended or served on probation, or more than 90 days, and shall forfeit the right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period of not less than one year or more than two years upon conviction.

After the expiration of the license forfeiture period, the person may make application to the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission for a license to operate a motor vehicle, which application may be granted at the discretion of the chief administrator, consistent with subsection (b) of this section.  For a second violation, a person also shall be required to install an ignition interlock device under the provisions of P.L.1999, c. 417 ( C.39:4-50.16 et al.).

(3) For a third or subsequent violation, a person shall be subject to a fine of $1,000, and shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than 180 days in a county jail or workhouse, except that the court may lower such term for each day, not exceeding 90 days, served participating in a drug or alcohol inpatient rehabilitation program approved by the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center and shall thereafter forfeit the right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for eight years.

For a third or subsequent violation, a person also shall be required to install an ignition interlock device under the provisions of P.L.1999, c. 417 ( C.39:4-50.16 et al.).

As used in this section, the phrase “narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug” includes an inhalant or other substance containing a chemical capable of releasing any toxic vapors or fumes for the purpose of inducing a condition of intoxication, such as any glue, cement or any other substance containing one or more of the following chemical compounds:  acetone and acetate, amyl nitrite or amyl nitrate or their isomers, benzene, butyl alcohol, butyl nitrite, butyl nitrate or their isomers, ethyl acetate, ethyl alcohol, ethyl nitrite or ethyl nitrate, ethylene dichloride, isobutyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, methyl alcohol, methyl ethyl ketone, nitrous oxide, n-propyl alcohol, pentachlorophenol, petroleum ether, propyl nitrite or propyl nitrate or their isomers, toluene, toluol or xylene or any other chemical substance capable of causing a condition of intoxication, inebriation, excitement, stupefaction or the dulling of the brain or nervous system as a result of the inhalation of the fumes or vapors of such chemical substance.

Whenever an operator of a motor vehicle has been involved in an accident resulting in death, bodily injury or property damage, a police officer shall consider that fact along with all other facts and circumstances in determining whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that person was operating a motor vehicle in violation of this section.

A conviction of a violation of a law of a substantially similar nature in another jurisdiction, regardless of whether that jurisdiction is a signatory to the Interstate Driver License Compact pursuant to P.L.1966, c. 73 ( C.39:5D-1 et seq. ), shall constitute a prior conviction under this subsection unless the defendant can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the conviction in the other jurisdiction was based exclusively upon a violation of a proscribed blood alcohol concentration of less than 0.08%.

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