Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges in Piscataway, New Jersey can carry serious penalties if you are convicted. As a local resident, it’s important to understand the DWI laws and potential defenses if you find yourself charged. This article provides an overview of key things to know.
What Constitutes DWI in Piscataway?
In New Jersey, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You can be charged with DWI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04% BAC. Drivers under 21 years old can be charged with DWI if their BAC is only 0.01% or higher – so even one drink could lead to a DWI for a young driver.
In addition to BAC limits, a driver can be charged based on evidence of impairment from alcohol or drugs. Even if your BAC is below the legal limit, unsafe driving coupled with any detectable amount of alcohol or drugs in your system may lead to a DWI charge.
Field sobriety tests are commonly used by police to evaluate impairment. These can include walking in a straight line, standing on one leg, reciting the alphabet, and following a pen with your eyes. Poor performance on field sobriety tests may be used as evidence of intoxication, even if your BAC is not over the limit.
Penalties for Piscataway DWI Conviction
A DWI conviction in Piscataway carries severe penalties. For a first offense DWI with a BAC below 0.10%, expect fines and surcharges totaling $500 – $800, license suspension of 3 months, and 12 – 48 hours at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC).
Fines and jail time increase dramatically for repeat offenses or BAC levels over 0.10%. A third DWI offense is a criminal charge in New Jersey, with up to 180 days in jail. Refusing a breathalyzer test leads to stiffer penalties as well.
Your auto insurance rates will skyrocket after a DWI, sometimes by $1,000 per year or more. And a DWI conviction stays on your criminal record permanently, which can impact employment background checks and more.
With so much at stake, it’s critical to consult an experienced DWI defense attorney if charged. An attorney may be able to plea bargain for a reduced charge or otherwise minimize penalties.
DWI Cases Involving Prescription or Over-the-Counter Drugs
Many people don’t realize that prescription and even some over-the-counter drugs can lead to a DWI charge. Cold medicines, sleep aids, antidepressants, and prescription pain relievers carry warnings against driving or operating heavy machinery.
If you take any medications, look for warning labels about driving and be aware of potential impairment. Symptoms like drowsiness, dizziness or blurred vision mean you should not drive.
A police officer can charge you with DWI if you show signs of impairment from any substance, legal or not. Your attorney can argue that medication, not willful intoxication, caused any impairment. But it’s still a very serious charge with major consequences if convicted.
Defending Piscataway DWI Charges
The best defense against a DWI charge depends on the specifics of your case. But some common defense strategies include:
- Questioning the validity of blood or breath test results, especially if procedures were not followed properly. There are strict protocols for administering BAC tests.
- Challenging the legality of the traffic stop that led to your arrest. If there was no probable cause for the stop, evidence obtained may be inadmissible.
- Disputing signs of impairment from field sobriety tests. Poor performance could be due to nervousness, injuries or other conditions, not intoxication.
- Arguing that prescription medication, not alcohol, caused impairment or abnormal test results.
- For repeat offenses, examining whether prior convictions were properly obtained. Invalid prior offenses can reduce current penalties.
An experienced DWI lawyer will thoroughly examine all evidence against you, look for procedural errors or violations of your rights, and build the strongest defense to achieve the best outcome given the circumstances.
While DWI charges should always be taken seriously, not all cases end in conviction. An attorney may negotiate a plea deal reducing the charge to the lesser offense of reckless driving, or even get the charges dismissed entirely if the evidence is weak or improper procedures were followed.
What to Do If You Are Charged with DWI in Piscataway
Being arrested for DWI can be scary and overwhelming. But following these steps can help:
- Remain polite and cooperative during the arrest, but do not answer questions or discuss the case with police. Anything you say can be used against you.
- Arrange for transportation and do not drive until consulting an attorney. Driving with a suspended license leads to further charges.
- If injured during the arrest, seek medical attention immediately and document your injuries.
- Contact a DWI defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can often get charges reduced or dismissed.
- Review the police report and other evidence. Mistakes or inconsistencies can help build your defense.
- Consider hiring a second attorney just for your DMV hearing. This administrative proceeding is separate from criminal court.
- Enroll in alcohol education programs. Showing initiative can help in negotiations with the prosecutor.
- Accept that legal processes take time. Your lawyer may delay court proceedings if it helps build your case.
With an experienced DWI defense attorney guiding you, it is possible to minimize penalties and avoid a permanent criminal record. Don’t go it alone against the complex legal system.
Choosing the Right Piscataway DWI Lawyer
DWI laws are complex, so specialized legal experience is crucial. When researching attorneys, look for:
- Extensive experience defending local DWI cases. Knowledge of prosecutors and judges is invaluable.
- Dual certification to challenge breathalyzer test results. Not all attorneys have this specialized training.
- Membership in professional organizations like the National College for DUI Defense. Indicators of expertise and continuing education.
- Willingness to go to trial. Many cases settle, but a lawyer who won’t hesitate to bring a strong defense to trial if needed.
- Clear communication style. You need to understand legal options and feel comfortable asking questions.
- Affordable rates and payment plans. Top lawyers are often expensive, but avoid attorneys significantly cheaper than competitors.
- Successful track record getting charges reduced or dismissed. Ask about typical outcomes.
Take time to understand all options when facing DWI charges in Piscataway. The consequences can last a lifetime. With an experienced attorney guiding your defense, you have the best chance of a favorable resolution.