South Brunswick DWI
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges in South Brunswick, New Jersey can be scary and overwhelming.
As a local criminal defense lawyer, I know how confusing the legal process can be for folks facing a DWI. My goal with this article is to walk through the basics in a simple way, so you understand what a DWI charge means and what defenses may apply.
First off, what does DWI stand for? DWI is short for “Driving While Intoxicated.” This means operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. New Jersey’s legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08%. If your BAC is 0.08% or higher, you can be charged with a DWI offense.
But you can also be charged with DWI even if your BAC is below 0.08%, if the officer determines you are impaired based on field sobriety tests. These tests check your balance, coordination, and other signs of intoxication. So you don’t have to be falling-down drunk to get a DWI – even minor impairment can lead to charges.
Field sobriety tests are subjective. The officer observes your performance on tests like standing on one leg or walking a straight line. There is room for error. A skilled DWI defense lawyer can challenge the results if tests were not conducted properly.
What happens after a DWI stop? If the officer believes you are impaired, you will be arrested and taken to the police station. At the station, you will be asked to provide breath, blood, or urine samples to test your BAC.
It’s important to know you are not required to provide these samples. This is where things get tricky. If you refuse to provide samples, your driving privileges will be suspended – but refusal can’t be used as evidence against you in court.
However, if you provide samples and your BAC is above the limit, this provides strong evidence for a DWI conviction. Many times, the best option is to politely decline providing samples. But whether to provide samples or not depends on the specifics of your case.
Okay, back to the basics. There are two main categories of DWI charges in New Jersey:
- DWI: You are charged with basic DWI if your BAC is 0.08% or higher. This is a traffic violation with penalties like fines, license suspension, and ignition interlock.
- DUI: DUI stands for “Driving Under the Influence.” This is a more serious criminal offense charged if you caused an injury or accident while impaired. DUI charges mean harsher penalties like jail time.
The penalties for DWI and DUI increase if you have prior convictions. New Jersey uses an escalating scale based on the number of offenses – 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. So repeat offenses lead to bigger fines, longer license suspensions, and more jail time.
Let’s talk about possible defenses. There are many ways to fight a DWI charge with an experienced lawyer on your side. Here are some common defenses we may use:
- Challenge the validity of the traffic stop. If the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over, the entire case could be dismissed.
- Question the field sobriety and breath test procedures. Mistakes in how tests were conducted can weaken the prosecution’s case.
- Argue rising BAC or medical conditions caused impairment vs. alcohol. Your BAC may have been lower when driving if tested later at the station. Medical issues like diabetes or injuries can also cause failed sobriety tests.
- Claim illegal search and seizure of evidence. The Constitution protects against searches without probable cause. Any evidence found illegally can’t be used against you.
- Negotiate a plea deal. Rather than risk trial, we may be able to plea bargain for a reduced charge like reckless driving.
Don’t forget, you have the right to remain silent and speak to a lawyer before answering any questions. Be polite, but don’t say anything that could hurt your case.
I know a DWI charge is scary. But with an experienced DWI defense lawyer on your side, there are options. Don’t go it alone against the prosecutors – level the playing field with strong legal defense.
My firm provides aggressive representation for clients facing DWI charges in South Brunswick and surrounding areas. I take a personalized approach to each case, exploring every angle to build the strongest defense.
Don’t leave your future to chance. Schedule a free case evaluation now to discuss your options, or call anytime if you have questions. We are here to help – you don’t have to navigate the legal system alone.