Top 10 Common Myths & Misconceptions About NJ DWI & DUI Charges (PART I)
Experienced DWI/DUI Law Attorneys providing counsel in Westfield, Elizabeth, Union, Linden, and the greater Union County area
Drivers in Union County and elsewhere in New Jersey need to be aware that the state has some of the toughest DWI/DUI laws in the entire country, with prosecutors and judges who are often willing to pursue maximum punishments for repeat offenders. In NJ, there is no difference between Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), as these two terms for motor vehicle infractions both fall under the same set of statutes (i.e., N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 Driving While Intoxicated) and can be used interchangeably for prosecution and sentencing.
These “quasi-criminal” wrongful offenses against the general or local public can consist of serious penalties, such as jail time, court costs, surcharges, financial penalties, license suspension, higher future insurance premiums, and treatment program requirements, especially if this is not your first offense. The implications of conviction can also impact other areas of your life, such as your daily commute, and limit your ability to carry out your normal activities (i.e., grocery shopping, school pick-ups, parenting time, doctor or family visits).
The idea of facing a DUI/DWI conviction is stressful. The stakes are too high, and the possible effects can last for years. Many individuals in NJ who use their company car for work, or commercial drivers with professional licenses or security clearances, cannot risk a conviction for driving while intoxicated or under the influence. This is also true for but is not limited to physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, attorneys, accountants, teachers, pilots, civil engineers, and real estate agents, whose conviction may trigger disciplinary action that may include the suspension, revocation, or denial of their license.
The strong legal defense of a knowledgeable, aggressive, dedicated attorney can often convince the courts to have your DUI/DWI charges dismissed or reduced, so don’t risk your future by trying to defend yourself against a DUI!
Here are a few common myths about DWI/DUI charges in New Jersey.
Myth 1: A DWI or DUI is A Simple Traffic Matter in Middlesex County, NJ
A DWI/DUI falls under criminal law, and thus you shouldn’t dismiss it as a simple traffic matter or a random citation you can ignore. The consequences for a conviction can include fines, jail time, surcharges in court, surcharges from the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission, participation in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC), driver’s license suspension, and as of December 2019, the installation of an interlock device.
Myth 2: I Can Get My DWI/DUI Conviction Expunged from My Records in NJ
No. A DUI is a traffic offense, and New Jersey does not permit the expungement or removal of any traffic offenses from one’s driving record.
Myth 3: The Breathalyzer Tests Administered Are Always Accurate
Typically arresting officers will conduct an Alcotest breathalyzer to determine whether an individual’s Blood Alcohol Content/concentration (BAC) is over the New Jersey legal limit of 0.08%.
This long-standing practice indirectly estimates an individual’s BAC based on how much alcohol is in the portion of the air exhaled, not how much alcohol is actually in an individual’s blood. The problem with this method is that it doesn’t consider factors like body temperature and respiration rate, meaning that the same individual could give off dramatically different readings. In addition, one’s result can be altered by using mouthwash, taking medication, burping, vomiting, or ingesting a breath freshener before taking an Alcotest can also produce false readings.
Alcohol-containing substances in your mouth give off a high alcohol vapor percentage, much greater than your lungs can produce. If any of these were a factor, then there is a good chance that you are a victim of a faulty reading.
Before a breathalyzer reading is accepted as court evidence, numerous must be properly fulfilled (i.e., training on the instrument’s internal workings, testing procedures, calibration, cleaning, and up-to-date certification)
Often, if presented with a strong argument, the prosecutor may agree to downgrade your DWI/DUI offense. This could play a significant role in facing a hefty financial penalty, license suspension, or jail time.
Myth 4: I Can Represent Myself on a DWI/DUI Charge
Some individuals may feel they can be their own attorneys. If you are faced with possibly losing your license, jail, steep fines, and potentially losing your driving privileges, it’s not a good idea to represent yourself. Each NJ DUI/DWI case is uniquely complex. An experienced DUI/DWI lawyer knows which defenses can be used and strategies to employ when negotiating with the prosecutor on your behalf, relaying your particular facts and circumstances.
Myth 5: Got a Clean Record. No Previous DUI. The Court Will Go Easy on Me.
All DUI/DWI’s in the state of New Jersey are vigorously prosecuted. Plea bargaining is not possible. There are mandatory minimum sentences for first-time offenders.
Your case will either go to trial, or you will take a plea, or if there are significant issues, it will be dismissed—dismissals on not based first offenses, polite pleasantries, or not having prior points on your license.
Contact a Linden NJ DUI/DWI Defense Attorney for Immediate Assistance
If you or a loved one is confronting charges for DWI or DUI in New Jersey, it is essential to have a complete understanding of the charges against you, the potential penalties associated with a conviction, and the collateral issues which may work to your advantage or undermine your chances for achieving a successful outcome.