Your Hackensack DWI Case: The Basics

The Giants have a home game and that means only one thing: a favorite jersey, blue face paint, and one epic tailgate. It's hard to keep track of exactly how much alcohol you consumed, but it was enough to convince you that standing shirtless in the chilly fall air with five of your buddies so that the letters on your chest spell "GIANTS" was a good idea. But now it's time to head home, and although your alcohol fueled support may have helped the team, you have to get home safely. The best -- and safest --way to get home is to ride with a sober friend or take the bus. However, if you must drive home, you should know that you might get arrested for a DWI. Here's an overview of what a Hackensack DWI case looks like.

Overview of NJ DWI Law

In New Jersey, as in most states, driving while under the influence of alcohol of other drug that impairs your judgment is a crime known as "Driving While Intoxicated," or DWI. New Jersey drivers 21 or older, who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher are considered intoxicated regardless of whether the drivers feel "drunk." People under 21 are guilty of a DWI when the BAC is .01% or higher. A driver may still be convicted of a DWI with a BAC lower that .08% if the alcohol or drugs she took impaired her driving.

Other states may call this violation "Driving under the Influence" (DUI) or "Operating under the Influence" (OUI). The general outlines of the crime are similar, but not identical, across all the states. Any extra research you may do should focus on New Jersey's DWI laws since the law from other states will probably not apply to your situation.

New Jersey DWI Penalties

Drivers guilty of a DWI may receive different penalties depending on whether they had one, two, or more DWI convictions within the ten years preceding their most recent conviction. The penalties include the following:

First Offense (BAC .08%-.1%):

  • A fine of $250-$400
  • Imprisonment for up to 30 days
  • 3-month license suspension
  • A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years

First Offense (BAC .1% or higher):

  • A fine of $300-$500
  • Imprisonment for up to 30 days
  • A license suspension between 7 months and 1 year
  • A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years

Second Offense:

  • A fine of $500-$1,000
  • Imprisonment of at least 48 consecutive hours, and up to 90 days
  • 2-year license suspension
  • 48 consecutive hours detainment in a regional Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of 1 year to 3 years after license restoration

Third or Subsequent Offense:

  • A fine of $1,000
  • Imprisonment of 180 days
  • 10-year license suspension
  • Detainment in an in-patient alcoholism treatment program
  • A fee to be paid to the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center dependent upon court sentence
  • An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,500 a year for 3 years
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of 1 year to 3 years after license restoration

The "intoxicated driver resources centers" (IRDC) offer alcohol and driver education programs. Successfully completing these programs is necessary to reinstate a driver's license. Each county has its own IRDC. Drivers must call and schedule an appointment at their local center.

DWI Arrests and Implied Consent

DWI arrests begin either at a DWI checkpoint, or when a Passaic Police Officer or a New Jersey State Police Officer notices that a driver is behaving erratically. This gives the police officer reasonable suspicion that the driver may be acting illegally. The officer will the observe the driver's behavior and may decide to let the driver go, conduct a field sobriety test, or administer a blood, breath, or urine test to determine the driver's BAC. New Jersey has an "Implied Consent Law" on the books, which means that you consent to BAC testing when you operate a motor vehicle. Refusing a BAC test is actually a separate crime, so it's in your best interest to just submit to BAC testing.

Based on the results of a BAC test and the police officer's observations of the driver's demeanor, she may arrest the driver for a DWI if she has probable cause to believe the driver is intoxicated. She will then transport to the driver to the Passaic County Jail for booking. The driver will be held there until he can post bail.

DWI Trial

After posting bail, the first thing a driver should do is to hire a qualified local DWI attorney. Prosecutors and judges have some discretion while prosecuting a DWI case, and a local attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain that will speed the entire process along. If the driver cannot afford an attorney, she can request a public defender.

DWI cases are processed in the local municipal court, and always begin with an arraignment, where the defendant will enter a "not guilty" or "guilty" plea. A "not-guilty" plea begins the trial proceedings, beginning with a discovery period in which both sides gather information about the case. A "guilty" plea skips the trial process and goes straight to sentencing. Plea bargaining can happen at any stage of the process.

Conclusion

This is a basic outline of how your Passaic DUI case might start out. For more information on sentencing and what happens next, talk to a local attorney that specializes in DWI law.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.