Defense of New Jersey
DWI and Criminal Cases

Although defined as a traffic offense in New Jersey, driving under the influence (DUI), also called driving while intoxicated (DWI) carries strict and severe penalties, including suspension of driving privilege in many cases, and sometimes incarceration in a county jail.  Convicted DUI offenders are liable to pay significant fines and penalties, must attend alcohol screening, education and counseling sessions, and face additional civil monetary penalties.  There is also the inevitable collateral financial consequence of increased automobile insurance premiums assessed for a DWI history.

There is a high rate of conviction on DUI charges in New Jersey, and it is advantageous to seek out  legal representation by the best DUI lawyers in NJ.

Proving DUI Cases

Offenders are presumed innocent in prosecutions under motor vehicle and criminal statutes until—and unless–the prosecutor proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  This is the “grey area” in which an experienced, top DUI defense lawyer functions.  The defense objective is to attain a verdict and judgment of “Not Guilty”.  Not guilty means that the State failed to prove their entire case.  Not guilty means “Not proven”.  It does not mean “Innocent”: in fact, a judgment of “Not guilty” is a judgment on the State’s case, and says nothing about the defendant except that the State shall trouble him no further about the decided charge or charges.

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%.