Picture this: You are driving down the road after spending the night at a friend’s house. You had one or two beers while you were there but you are far from being intoxicated. As you are driving you see a police car driving behind you. You continue to drive normally, as you feel the cop has no reason to pull you over. But then the officer’s lights come on and he pulls you over. You may be facing a situation where you need a DUI lawyer.
If You Are Pulled Over for DUI, What Are Your Rights?
What should you do in this case? Whenever law enforcement pulls you over on suspicion of a DUI, your New Jersey DUI lawyer will want you to use four major opportunities to exercise your rights.
“Do you know why I pulled you over tonight?”
Your best bet here is to respond to the question without actually answering it. You could say something to the effect of “Why do you ask?” or “I’m not really sure.” As your New Jersey DUI lawyer will advise you, you don’t want to lie. You can always say “Respectfully, I won’t answer your question but you can speak to my attorney.” That usually stops the problematic questions. If you have ever watched a cop drama on TV, you have likely heard someone say, “You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and may be used against you in a court of law.” What people don’t know is you always have these rights; you don’t only get them once you have been arrested.
“Have you had anything to drink tonight?”
Here you have three options: “yes,” “no,” and “I have no statement.” If you say yes, you will likely be facing a battery of tests and then an arrest. If you say no, and actually had something to drink, this could hurt you in court. Saying “I have no statement” is best, as it is neither an admission nor a lie. It is simply an answer to the question that does not incriminate you.
“I want you to step out of the car and we will do some tests.”
What the officer forgets to tell you is that you CAN say no. Your New Jersey DUI lawyer will want you to know that you are not obligated to do any field sobriety tests. For most people, these tests result in an arrest. If you have had anything significant to drink, taking these tests will only result in giving the police proof of your intoxication. If you have had nothing to drink, the tests can still result in your arrest. The tests fail more than 30% of the time.
Any other question other than “License and registration please.”
Think back to the Miranda rights I mentioned earlier. You have the right to remain silent. USE IT, because it is surprisingly easy to incriminate yourself when answering these questions. After all, that is the point of those questions, to gather evidence to incriminate you.
If you are arrested, you will be asked to give a breath sample. If you refuse, you will be charged with a separate offense — refusal to give a breath sample (NJS 39:4-50.2). Your refusal will usually carry some very strict consequences. It is usually in your best interests to give the sample.
What Are the Consequences of a DUI?
For BAC of .08 to .10%
If convicted of a first offense DUI in New Jersey with a Blood Alcohol Content between .08 to .10%, you are facing:
- Fines between $1,044 and $1,194 — of which $794 is mandatory and $250 to $400 is discretionary;
- A $3,000 insurance surcharge payable over 3 years;
- Mandatory alcohol awareness classes at the IDRC for 12-48 hours during 2 consecutive days of 6 hours or longer each day;
- Up to 30 days in jail;
- Losing your license in New Jersey for at least 3 months;
- Supervised visitation program as either a condition of probation or a form of community service.
For BAC over .10 but less than .15%
If your BAC was over .10% but less than .15%, then your fine increases from $1,094 to $1,294. You will lose your license from 7-12 months and:
- The court may make you install an interlock device for 6 months to a year at the end of your license suspension. This mechanism would force you to breathe into it before you can start your car. If it indicates a level of alcohol the car will not start.
- For a second DUI offense the consequences are similar but more severe. For example, the fine increases from $1,344 to $1,844. You will face 2-90 days in jail, and will also lose your license for 2 years. You will do 30 days of community service. Interlock ignition device is mandatory for 1-3 years.
- For a third offense the consequences are more severe yet. The fine will be $1,844 (complete explanation click here). You will receive a sentence of 180 days in jail. However, you can serve 90 days of that sentence through a drug or alcohol inpatient program approved by the IDRC. You will lose your license in New Jersey for 10 years.
- Of course, an often overlooked consequence of any DUI conviction is the increased insurance premium, which could increase two times more than what you previously paid.
The results of any DUI can be severe. Do not let it happen to you. Contact a New Jersey DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
DUI While Driving With a Suspended License
Driving with a suspended license in New Jersey in violation of N.J.S. 39:3-40 and charged with a DUI, is an aggravating factor because you knew you had a suspended license and drove anyway. That is a culpable state of mind and the court will consider it a CIMT.
The court may also consider it a “Crime of Violence” under limited circumstances. Since August of 2011, it is now a fourth degree crime in New Jersey to drive with a suspended license during the suspension period after having received of two or more DUIs, in violation of N.J.S. 2C:40-26. If convicted of this fourth degree crime, you will go to jail for a minimum of 6 months and as much as 18 months. This conviction is most certainly a CIMT and the court may consider it a Crime of Violence since you can spend more than 365 days in jail.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
When it comes to the topic of driving under the influence, your New Jersey DUI lawyer can tell you that there is no distinction in the eyes of the law between driving drunk and driving high.
First off, alcohol is technically a drug, as it is a chemical that alters the functionality and chemistry of your brain. Secondly, driving under the influence simply means that you are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a brain altering substance.
Why Is There No Difference Between Drug DUI and DUI Involving Alcohol?
For this reason, it would not make sense for there to be two different classes of the crime, one for driving under the influence of alcohol and one for driving under the influence of narcotics. This would simply create stricter penalties for someone possibly facing severe penalties already. However, if you face charges of driving under the influence of narcotics and the police found you in possession of those narcotics you can be facing three additional charges.
Additional Charges If Also Found in Possession of Narcotics
- Possession of a controlled dangerous substance: this is typically a disorderly persons offense for marijuana, but depending on the drug and the amount it can be an indictable offense;
- Possession of drug paraphernalia: typically a disorderly person’s offense, this entails equipment or materials associated with drugs; and
- Possession of drugs in a motor vehicle: this is a traffic offense but can result in a two year loss of license.
The only corollary for driving under the influence of alcohol is if law enforcement found an open container of alcohol in the car. This is simply a traffic offense without serious consequences other than a monetary fine.
Irrespective of whether you are convicted of a DUI (N.J.S. 39:4-50) because of drugs or alcohol, your insurance may go up. Since your license will be suspended from three months to 10 years (depending on your prior history) you will have to find an alternative way to get to work, if the court convicts you. A New Jersey DUI lawyer can save you from severe consequences.
Contact a New Jersey DUI Lawyer Today
If police pulled you over for a DUI, you need an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer to fight for you. Call Andres Mejer Law today.