Driving under the influence (DUI) is a very serious motor vehicle offense in New Jersey. If you are arrested for operating a vehicle or vessel while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more, then you will face severe penalties—possibly even jail time for a first offense. BAC is measured using the Alcotest machine that New Jersey’s Supreme Court approved in State v. Chun, 194 N.J. 54 (2008). Note that the Alcotest will be replaced with new technology within the next few years. This makes it all the more important to hire an attorney like Fred Sisto, with the skills and imagination to spot and successfully litigate novel issues. DUIs are all too common in New Jersey. In 2013 alone, more than 24,000 people were arrested for driving under the influence. The state has cracked down on DUI, arguably more than ever, and warnings alone are almost never given.
Penalties for DUIs
Penalties given to individuals for their first conviction will vary depending on the level of BAC at the time of arrest.
If a breathalyzer test reads between 0.08% and 0.10%, then the following penalties are assessed:
- A three-month loss of license
- Six different fines totaling from $3,755 to $3,905
- $250-$400 state fine
- $230 Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) fee
- $100 to the drunk-driving fund
- $100 to the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund (AERF)
- $1,000 per year surcharge for three years
- $75 to the Neighborhood Services Fund
- A prison term of up to thirty days
- Mandatory 12-48 hours attendance at an IDRC program
If the Alcotest reads .10 – .14%, then the same penalties, as listed above, are assessed. The exception being loss of license, which is increased to a range of seven months to one year, along with an increase in state fines from $300 to $500.
However, when a breathalyzer test reads 0.15% or greater, then, in addition to the penalties for a .10 or above reading, an ignition-interlock device will be installed in the defendant’s vehicle during license suspension, and it will remain in the vehicle for six months to one year after the suspension.
For information on penalties for repeat offenses, visit the New Jersey State Web site.
Defenses against DUIs
If you are arrested for a DUI, then having an experienced lawyer by your side is absolutely vital. As noted above, there is a range of penalties. Fred Sisto can implement a defense that minimizes your chances of receiving the maximum sentence. In addition, there are many defenses he can use to prove you were not guilty of a DUI. These defenses include:
- Proving that you were not operating the vehicle, but were using it as a safe place to wait until you were sober or until such time a sober driver could pick you up
- Questioning the accuracy of the Alcotest and its calibration
- Showing that the arresting officer used illegal methods to conduct your arrest
- Gathering evidence of errors made by the state during the arrest process
Being arrested for a DUI is taken very seriously in New Jersey. Without a lawyer at your side, you are likely to be convicted of as many offenses as possible. Call Fred Sisto for a free consultation at (732) 898-3232 and to receive expert advice about your particular situation.