The first question asked by many of our clients is: “What is the difference between DWI and DUI?” The answer is they are the same thing. In New Jersey, the legislature named the drunk driving statute Driving While Intoxicated, whereas in many other states the statute is called Driving While Under the Influence. Either way, it is the most serious motor vehicle violation a person can be charged with because of the potential for extended driver’s license loss and/or a jail sentence. Unfortunately, every significant change in the DWI laws in New Jersey over the past 30 years has been to increase the penalties and/or make it more likely for a DWI arrest to result in a DWI conviction.
To make matters worse, unlike most traffic and criminal charges that are handled in the Municipal Courts, the New Jersey Supreme Court has made it illegal for prosecutors to plea bargain in DWI cases. For that reason, anyone charged with DWI needs to be sure that they have a seasoned, educated and experienced defense attorney. Unlike many other violations, such as speeding, in order to properly represent his client a lawyer must do more than just ask the Prosecutor for a good deal for his client. DWI cases are for this reason more likely to proceed to trial than any other traffic code violation.
Since DWI is prosecuted with highly technical evidence, usually involving the results from highly sophisticated alcohol testing devices, either the traditional Breathalyzer machine or the newer computerized Alcotest machines, a successful defense of a DWI charge is typically a highly technical defense. New Jersey law says that if you operated a motor vehicle at a time when an alcohol testing machine says you had a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or higher, and those results are admitted into evidence, then you are automatically guilty. For this reason, our defense strategy usually begins with the review of the evidence and testing data by a widely recognized expert in New Jersey State Police alcohol testing procedures. Many of our successful outcomes have resulted from one of our retained experts uncovering an issue with the testing equipment, the officer’s credentials and/or the testing procedures that result in the Court ruling that the test results are inadmissible. That is the first step in getting a dismissal or an acquittal for our client.
Even though a DWI charge is considered a motor vehicle offense, rather than a criminal offense, the penalties, even for a first time offender, can include jail time and a minimum mandatory license suspension of 7-12 months. That, combined with the prohibition against plea bargaining, makes DWI cases among the most challenging that any lawyer can handle. In addition, between Court fines, State Insurance Surcharges and premium increases by your automobile insurance carrier, a DWI conviction can easily result in $10,000.00 in fines and increased costs over the three year period following a conviction.
Our firm has made a commitment to remaining at the leading edge of the ever evolving field of DWI defense law, and we continually work to maintain that edge so that our representation can make the difference between a client keeping or losing his or her driver’s license. Our experience in this rather intense sub-specialty of the law and our dedication to obtaining the best possible outcome in all cases makes us quite effective in defending our clients. If you were to talk to our prior clients, we think our track record would speak for itself.
If you have been charged with a DWI, contact us right away for a no-fee telephone consultation, and decide for yourself if you agree that our lawyers are on the top of their game when it comes to counseling and educating our clients in this complex area of law and defending people arrested for DWI.