This list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) will answer some common questions about our Areas of Practice. If you would like more information, please use our Contact form.
Cost of Representation
What is the difference between a retainer fee agreement and a flat fee agreement?
A retainer fee agreement is an amount of money that acts as a fee pre-payment. The retainer is held in trust and billed against at an hourly rate. At the conclusion of the case, the remainder is refunded to the client. A flat fee is a one-time payment agreement.
Can I enter a Payment Plan?
You may be able to enter into a payment plan depending upon the facts and circumstances of your case. Your fee agreement and payment structure will depend on your case as well as your ability to pay.
Do you accept Credit Cards?
Know your Rights
What are my Miranda Rights?
Once you are in police custody, you must be informed of your constitutional right to remain silent before being interrogated. If the police did not inform you of these rights (your “Miranda Rights”) your constitutional rights have been violated. In the event that your rights have been violated, that does not necessarily mean that you are not guilty. It means that your counsel will have a good opportunity to have any statements made or any evidence gathered as a result of the violation found inadmissible (suppressed) in Court. This can become a significant part of your defense.
When can a police officer search me or my property?
A police officer can search your person or your property if you provide the officer with consent to do so, or if the officer presents you with a search warrant. It is important to note that a police officer may conduct a search without your consent and without a search warrant under special circumstances. The special facts and circumstances of each case have to be evaluated.
When I am pulled over, do I have to let the police officer search my car?
No. You always have the right to refuse to consent to search your motor vehicle.
If a police dog is brought out to my car during a motor vehicle stop and “hits” on my car, can the police then search my vehicle?
No. Once a police dog “hits” on a suspect’s motor vehicle it provides the officer with probable cause to believe there are drugs and/or contraband in the motor vehicle. In the absence of “exigent circumstances”, the officer must now obtain a warrant before he or she may enter your vehicle. Law enforcement in New Jersey are equipped to obtain telephonic warrants.
If police come to my door, do I have to let them in my home?
Typically no. Generally in the absence of a search warrant or emergency circumstances, the police have no right to enter your home.
If I am convicted of a crime, will anyone know that I have a conviction on my record?
Although a conviction such as a drug crime, juvenile crime, sex crime, white-collar crime or violent crime is public record and may be reviewed by the general public, you may be able to expunge a conviction depending on the nature of the crime committed. Our office handles expungements of arrests, municipal ordinances, offenses and crimes.
How long do I have to wait to expunge a conviction or arrest? How long does the expungement process take?
The expungement process takes three (3) to four (4) months from start to finish. The waiting period for expungements are as follows:
- Arrests not resulting in conviction due to acquittal, dismissal or discharge without a conviction or finding of guilt: None. You may file immediately.
- Entry into a “Conditional Discharge” or “Pretrial Intervention”: 6 months after the successful completion of the program and its requirements.
- Municipal Ordinance Conviction: 2 years from date of conviction, payment of fines, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, wichever is later.
- Disorderly Person Conviction or Petty Disorderly Person Conviction: 5 years from date of conviction, payment of fines, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever is later.
- Indictable Offenses: 10 years from date of conviction, payment of fines, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever is later. Some indictable convictions, such as first-degree robbery, are not eligible for expungement. Those offenses may only be expunged by way of petition of clemency from the Governor.
- Juvenile Delinquent: 1. If the act would have been considered an Indictable offense if committed by an adult, follow the procedure for Indictable offenses. 2. If the act would have been considered a disorderly or petty disorderly persons offense if committed by an adult, follow the procedure for disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly offenses. 3. If the act would have been considered an ordinance violation if committed by an adult, follow the procedure for ordinance violations. 4. The entire juvenile record may be expunged after five (5) years from final discharge and custody or supervision or five (5) years have passed after entry of any other court order not involving custody or supervision; no other convictions in the meantime; no other proceedings or complaint may be pending.
What is “Bail” and what is it for?
All defendants have a right to bail under the New Jersey Constitution. If bail is posted, defendants are released until the charges listed in the complaint are resolved. Bail can be posted in cash, property or utilization of a bondsman. The purpose of Bail is simply to assure that criminal defendants will appear in court in the future. If defendants have significant ties to the community, or no criminal history, they may be considered for a Release on Own Recognizance (“R.O.R.”), which is an affidavit certifying that they are aware of the charges levied against them, and will appear in court to face them.
What is a “10% Bail” and a “No 10% Bail”?
Certain crimes allow for defendants to post 10% of the bail. For example, a “$5,000.00, 10% OK” bail requires a defendant to post $500.00 in order to be released. Other crimes do not allow for the posting of only 10% and require the posting of the entire bail. By comparison, a “5,000.00, no 10%” means a defendant must post $5,000.00 in money or property to be released.
Can I use personal real estate as Bail?
Yes. That said, the process can be somewhat time consuming. It typically takes at least two (2) weeks to complete the process if all the paperwork can be compiled and filed quickly. Those documents include certified copies of the deed to the property being posted, all financial documents relating to any mortgage or other encumbrances on the property and a recent appraisal.
If I pled guilty to a crime, when am I considered “convicted”?
You are only “convicted” of a crime after you have been sentenced. Prior to that, you are presumed innocent unless and until you plead guilty or are found guilty. Even after a guilty plea or finding has been entered, you are not deemed to be “convicted” until the day of your sentencing.
Does New Jersey have felonies and misdemeanors?
No. New Jersey defines unlawful conduct as “crimes” or “offenses”. Crimes and offenses are categorized in New Jersey in terms of “degrees”, “disorderly persons” offenses or “petty disorderly persons” offenses. The criminal code provides for First Degree, Second Degree, Third Degree, and Fourth Degree crimes. First-degree charges are the most serious and Fourth Degree are the least. The criminal code also provides for Disorderly and Petty Disorderly offenses. Petty Disorderly offenses are the least serious offenses.
What is the Indictment Process?
If a criminal case has not been downgraded, diverted, dismissed, or a plea has been entered, the prosecutor will present the case to a grand jury for an indictment. The grand jury is composed of twenty-three (23) citizens who have been selected from voter registration lists. They consider evidence presented by the county prosecutor and determine if there is sufficient evidence to formally charge the defendant and oblige him to respond to the charge(s). The indictment is not a finding of guilt or a conviction. Neither the accused or his/her attorney are present. Witnesses may testify regarding the crime. Defendants may testify, however, if they are requested to attend and elect to surrender their right against self incrimination as guaranteed by the constitution. After considering the prosecutor’s evidence and the testimony of witnesses, if a majority of the twenty-three (23) jurors vote to return an indictment, the defendant must face further criminal action. This finding is a “true bill” that triggers further proceedings in the Superior Court, Criminal Division. If a majority finds the evidence to be insufficient to indict, the grand jury enters a “no bill” and the charge(s) are dismissed. The jury may, however, decide to charge the defendant with a less serious offense, to be heard in municipal court. In this instance, the offense has been downgraded or remanded. The accused must appear in municipal court to face a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons charge.
What is a first Appearance?
Once a complaint is issued, defendants are either arrested or issued a summons or notice to appear in municipal or Superior Court on a first appearance. If they fail to appear, a warrant may be issued for their arrest by a judge if there is proof of service, or evidence that the accused received the summons or notice and failed to appear. At the first court appearance, defendants are advised of their rights and their bail is reviewed.
What happens in the “pre-indictment” time period?
Following the filing of a complaint and the first court appearance, the prosecutor’s office in each county determines whether to pursue a criminal complaint. Prosecutors determine if cases have merit and sufficient evidence to pursue a conviction. In most counties, the prosecutor’s Case Screening Unit reviews police reports, witness statements, surveillance video, motor vehicle recordings (“MVR”) and interviews victims and witnesses to determine if the original charges will be prosecuted. If there is insufficient evidence, the charges may be downgraded to disorderly persons offenses and remanded (or sent to) the municipal courts for a hearing or some other form of resolution. At this time, the Rules of Court do not require the State to provide the defendant with any discovery (police reports, witness statements, physical evidence, photographs, etc.). If an attorney has been retained, your counsel is permitted to discuss your case with the prosecutor. The prosecutor may elect to provide your attorney with a pre-indictment discovery package. This allows your attorney to see the evidence against you and help assess the strengths and weakness of your defense. If the defendant is looking to resolve a matter short of a trial, this also allows for plea negotiations with the State.
What is plea bargaining and how does it work?
In the vast majority of criminal cases, the prosecutor and the defendant’s attorney will negotiate a plea bargain. In a plea agreement, the prosecutor may offer the accused an arrangement where he or she will recommend a reduced term of incarceration or probation in exchange for a guilty plea. In some instances, the charges are reduced or dismissed as part of the plea bargain. Maximum sentence terms may also be part of negotiated agreements.
What happens if I elect to plead guilty? What will I have to say in Court?
A decision to enter a plea of guilty is a decision that can only be made by the individual facing criminal charges. Defendants who elect to enter a plea must sign a statement certifying that they understand the plea and are entering into the agreement voluntarily and without pressure from the prosecution or their attorney. They also acknowledge that the judge is not bound by the agreement when deciding and rendering sentences. If a judge perceives that the plea bargain is too lenient, the judge can reject the plea and order the prosecution and defense parties to renegotiate, or order the matter will be set down for trial. Defendants pleading guilty as a result of the plea agreement must acknowledge their plea in open court. Defendants who plead guilty after plea negotiations do not necessarily surrender their right to appeal their convictions to the Appellate Division of Superior Court.
What is the difference between Municipal Court and Superior Court?
The Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division handles all indictable criminal matters (i.e. all First thru Fourth Degree crimes). The Superior Court, Law Division also handles all civil matters, such as Division of Youth and Family Services (“D.Y.F.S.”), contract disputes, personal injury matters and divorce proceedings. The Superior Court, Chancery Division handles all matters of equity, such as wills and estates and enforcement of non- compete clauses. Finally, the Superior Court, Appellate Division handles all appeals.
The Municipal Courts in New Jersey are courts of limited jurisdiction, having responsibility for motor vehicle and parking tickets, minor criminal-type offenses (Disorderly Persons and Petty Disorderly Persons offenses), municipal ordinance offenses (such as dog barking or building code violations) and other offenses, such as fish and game violations. A Municipal Court usually has jurisdiction only over cases that occur within the boundaries of its municipality. Many serious criminal cases, such as robbery, auto theft, or assault, start out as complaints filed in the Municipal Court but those cases are transferred to the Superior Court located at the county courthouse.
What is a Pre-Arraignment Conference?
Within twenty-one (21) days of the return of an indictment, a pre-arraignment conference is held. This pre-arraignment conference is scheduled by Criminal Division Staff. Defendants may apply for public defender representation at this point if they are not yet represented. Prior to this conference, discovery or evidence must be made available to defense counsel. This exchange of evidence provides the defense with an opportunity to review the evidence the prosecution intends to use against the accused prior to the conference. After reviewing the discovery provided prior to the pre-arraignment conference, defendants may decide to apply for Pretrial Intervention, or to enter plea bargain negotiations. Defendants may also indicate their intention to plead guilty to the charge for which they were indicted.
What is the Pre Trial Intervention Program (“PTI”)?
Criminal Division Case Supervisors conduct investigations on adult defendants who apply for Pretrial Intervention. This is a diversionary program which permits certain defendants to avoid formal prosecution and conviction by entering into a term of court supervised community living, often with counseling or other support. Criminal Division Managers direct this program. Case supervisors prepare reports to aid the Criminal Division Manager and the Assistant County Prosecutor assigned to the case in deciding whether to recommend approval and for criminal judges determining if defendants will be admitted. Defendants opting for this program apply directly to Criminal Division Management. Case supervisors conduct investigations into the history of all applicants, to ensure their eligibility. Admission to the program requires the consent of the prosecutor, the Criminal Division Manager and the criminal judge.
Defendants charged with violent offenses generally are not admitted. Probationers and parolees are also generally excluded, since they have prior convictions. Persons accused of R.I.C.O. (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) offenses are generally not admitted, as well as public officials who are accused of abusing their positions for personal gain against the public trust. Prosecutors must be consulted before an applicant charged with a first- or second-degree crime can even be considered for PTI.
The objective of PTI is to provide an incentive for first time non-violent offenders to rehabilitate. Conditions attached to judicial orders for pretrial intervention may require defendants to obtain a substance abuse evaluation from TASC (“Treatment Assessment Services for the Courts”), participate in substance abuse or mental health counseling or community service, or submit to urine testing, pay restitution and fines, or give up a firearm or driver’s license. Participants have criminal charges formally suspended for up to three (3) years. Once a participant completes the program, the charges are dismissed. However, if defendants fail to complete special conditions attached to their term of PTI supervision, the participant can be terminated from the program, triggering a resumption of the formal criminal process. These defendants may face indictment and trial, and if convicted, face the penalties prescribed by the criminal code. The Administrative Office of the Courts (“AOC”) maintains a computer registry of all PTI applicants, to ensure a person is not admitted into PTI more than once.
What is an Arraignment? What is a Status Conference?
A formal arraignment must occur no later than fifty (50) days after an indictment has been returned. Upon notification by the Criminal Division, defendants must appear and face formal notification of their charges. At this point, the defendant must enter a formal plea of “Guilty” or “Not Guilty”. A plea of guilty at this point would be to either the charges listed in the indictment, an accusation or to revised charges resulting from plea negotiations. If plea negotiations are ongoing, the parties may review the status of the plea offer. Defendants may also opt to apply for the Pretrial Intervention program at this juncture, or be admitted into the program if they have not applied prior to arraignment. If a guilty plea is entered at the formal arraignment, Criminal Division judges order a presentence investigation to be conducted by Criminal Division case supervisors. Sentencing will follow the presentence investigation, generally four (4) to six (6) weeks after convictions.
Do I need an attorney at my arraignment?
It is not required, but strongly suggested. Although many people believe they may be able to handle this hearing without the presence of a criminal lawyer, it is very helpful to have someone there defending you. A criminal defense attorney may be able to lower your bail or even negotiate to have you released on your own recognizance (R.O.R.) without putting up any money.
How much time in jail is possible for my charge?
A conviction for a first- degree offense involves a minimum jail exposure in the range of ten (10) to twenty (20) years. The potential jail for a second-degree criminal conviction is five (5) to ten (10) years. The potential incarceration for a third-degree offense is three (3) to five (5) years. Fourth degree charges involve jail sentences up to eighteen (18) months. These incarceration ranges represent the criminal code ranges, but enhanced terms of incarceration may apply depending on the nature of an offense and a defendant’s prior criminal record.
The potential jail for a disorderly persons offense conviction is six (6) months. A petty disorderly persons offense conviction carries a thirty (30) day jail exposure. A defendant convicted of a first offense DUI could be sentenced to up to thirty (30) days in jail. A second offense DUI requires a mandatory forty eight (48) hours to ninety (90) days in jail. A third offense DUI carries a mandatory jail term of 180 days (90 of which can be served in an in-patient facility).
What type of sentence will I receive?
Sentencing is decided by the judge presiding over your matter. The judge looks at the surrounding circumstances, specifically the nature of the case, your past criminal history, and whether you are a threat to the community. Sentencing options range from mere community service, to county jail, to incarceration in State Prison.
How long does a criminal trial take?
The length of a criminal trial depends on the nature of the case. Criminal Trials can range from days, to weeks to months. Our attorneys have extensive experience in all criminal trials from sex crimes and violent crimes to white collar crimes and juvenile matters.
Can my attorney guarantee a result?
Absolutely not. All that can be promised is effort and honesty.
Can I just have my attorney represent me, so I don't have to show up?
There are stages of the criminal process where you do not need to appear. However it is very important to check with your attorney before you decide to be absent. If you are not able to appear you must contact your attorney or the court clerk and inform them of your situation. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your case so that we may determine whether or not your appearance is necessary at your next court date. In certain municipal traffic matters, out of state defendants may waive their appearance and have a local attorney represent them in court.
If I appeal my matter, what court will hear it?
The answer depends on what matter you are appealing. The following are appeal paths for state matters in New Jersey. Typically, Superior Court matters are appealed to the Appellate Division and then the Supreme Court. DUI appeals are made to the Superior Court, Law Division and then to the Superior Court, Appellate Division and Supreme Court. Administrative Agency (Civil Service Commission, Motor Vehicle Commission) appeals are made to the Superior Court, Appellate Division and Supreme Court.
What if I think the judge or prosecutor is biased?
If you have a fair and reasonable argument as to why you believe the judge or prosecutor is biased against you, your attorney may ask the judge to withdraw from the case or your attorney may file a motion with the court.
Are there any “real” defenses to DUI?
Absolutely. The following is a list of some of the defenses our office utilizes when defending a DWI / DUI charge in New Jersey.
Illegal Motor Vehicle Stop.
Article I, paragraph VII of the New Jersey Constitution provides that all citizens have the right to be free of all “unreasonable searches and seizures.” As a result, law enforcement must have some legal justification for pulling you over. In New Jersey, the standard is that law enforcement must have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime has occurred or that a motor vehicle offense has been committed. If the State cannot meet that standard, all evidence obtained as a result of the motor vehicle stop may be suppressed and is inadmissible against you at trial.
One of the basic elements the State must establish in order to prove its case against you is operation. Depending on the facts of your case, operation may be at issue. Some cases that have addressed this issue are as follows. In State v. Sweeney, 40 N.J. 359 (1963), the defendant was found sitting in the driver’s seat of his car which was parked at the curb with the motor running. The Court held that the defendant could be convicted of “operating” his car if there was evidence that infers he intended to move the vehicle. In State v. Daly, 64 N.J. 122 (1973), the Supreme Court held that an individual parked outside of a bar at 3:20 a.m. with the lights on an motor running was not operating a motor vehicle.
Failure to Provide Discovery (evidence).
Pursuant to New Jersey Supreme Court case State v. Chun and the Rules of Court, the prosecution must provide all evidence in its possession as well as various discovery pertaining to the Alcotest 7110, the device utilized to test breath defendants’ breath samples. If the State fails to do so, a motion to compel the production of evidence can be filed. If granted, an Order will be issued to force the prosecution to provide the evidence it is withholding. The State’s failure to comply with the Court’s order may result in the entire case being dismissed.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (“SFST”).
There are several “standardized” field sobriety tests: one-leg stand, walk-and-turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus (an eye test referred to as HGN). The results of these tests are used by law enforcement as evidence of intoxication. In New Jersey, the results of the HGN test cannot be used against a defendant. There are also other factors that compromise the validity of these tests, such as certain medical conditions, weight, age and physical injuries.
MVR (Mobile Video Recorder).
Some police departments have MVR recordings of your motor vehicle stop and the administration of your SFSTs. It is less frequent that departments have video within the police station. These videos are utilized to evidence your physical and mental condition at the time of your arrest. You are entitled to a copy of all videos and evidence relating to your arrest. These videos can be used to establish that you performed better on your SFSTs than was reported by the officer in his police report. The videos also can be used to challenge the credibility of the arresting officer(s). Finally, the failure to produce such videos or the destruction of such videos (intentionally or otherwise) can be a basis to dismiss your case.
Failure to Read Implied Consent Warnings.
Everyone arrested for DUI must be read a standardized statement drafted and approved by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office. That statement must be read in language that you can understand. If you do not speak English, it must be read in a language that you understand. Failure to read the statement and properly advise a defendant may lead to the dismissal of the charge(s).
Any law enforcement officer who operates an Alcotest 7110 device in New Jersey during an arrest must be properly trained and certified. Those certifications must be current and copies must be provided to defense counsel. If the officer administering the breath test does not possess valid certifications then the breath results are inadmissible. Additionally, each Alcotest 7110 in New Jersey must be inspected and recalibrated periodically. This procedure is documented and must be done within a specified time period. The documents are produced at trial to evidence that the machine was in proper working order at the time the breath sample was taken. Failure to provide such documentation may result on the breath test results being deemed inadmissible.
Twenty-Minute Period of Observation.
The accuracy of a breath sample may be affected by the presence of mouth alcohol. Mouth alcohol can be present if a defendant is chewing gum, vomits, belches or regurgitates in his/her mouth. As a result, the Supreme Court requires that each person submitting to a breath test be observed for a period of twenty (20) minutes immediately prior to providing a breath test. Failure to do so may result in the breath samples being inadmissible.
Proper Operation of the Alcotest 7110.
The Supreme Court has outlined, in detail, the steps and procedures an officer must follow when administering a breath test. The officer’s failure to follow these steps calls into question the validity of the breath test results and may result in the results being deemed in admissible.
Law enforcement must follow specific procedures for drawing blood when that sample is expected or anticipated to be utilized in a prosecution. These procedures differ from those followed by EMTs or hospitals. Failure to follow proper procedures may result in the results being deemed in admissible.
Drug Recognition Evaluations (“DRE”).
It is against the law to drive while under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin or oxycodone. In New Jersey, some officers have received training as Drug Recognition Evaluation experts. These officers, and the State, claim that DRE experts can accurately determine whether someone is under the influence of a CDS. DRE testimony has not been deemed reliable evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
There are various medical conditions that may negatively affect the State’s proofs in a DUI case. There are two (2) varieties of such medical conditions. First, some medical conditions have symptoms that mimic intoxication. Providing evidence of such conditions to the State may raise reasonable doubt as to whether someone was under the influence of alcohol or merely suffering from a medical condition. These conditions may include diabetes, vertigo, a concussion and prior knee/ankle injuries. Second, some medical conditions may not mimic intoxication, but will affect the validity of a breath test. These conditions include G.U.R.D., post nasal drip, crying and the presence of blood in the mouth.
Law enforcement officers are trained to draft reports setting forth the facts and circumstances surrounding the arrest and investigation of a defendant. Officers receive this training in the police academy. The information contained in the police report can be used by the defense in various fashions. By way of example, inconsistencies amongst various reports can call into question the accuracy of the State’s facts. Police reports are also utilized to cross-examine officers who testify at trial if their testimony is no consistent with their report.
The weather on the date of your arrest can have tremendous significance. Rain, snow, sleet, etc. may explain erratic driving or swerving. It may also explain poor performance on Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
What happens after a DUI arrest?
After the police conclude their business you will typically be released to a friend or relative who generally agrees to accept responsibility for you for the first 24 hours. The officer will place a date on the ticket notifying you when to appear. This is usually within one (1) week of your arrest. If you retain counsel, you may not have to appear. The court will schedule your matter for another appearance three (3) to four (4) weeks later. During that time, your attorney will obtain discovery (documentation) from the State and may retain expert witnesses on your behalf. Often the discovery is initially incomplete and your attorney will need to press the issue.
Once the discovery is complete an evaluation is made by your attorney as to the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s proofs. You will decide if you wish to plead guilty or go to trial. Unfortunately, there is no plea bargaining drunk driving or refusal offenses. In order to prevail, you must show the State the weaknesses make it unlikely they will prevail.
If you elect to go to trial, it will be before a municipal court judge. New Jersey does not permit jury trials for DUI offenses. The State will present witnesses and you, through our attorney, will attempt to undermine the State’s case. If you are successful, the charge(s) will be dismissed.
If you plead guilty or are found guilty, the court will look for payment of fines, immediately suspend your license and potentially put you in jail. If sentenced to jail it is normal for the sentence to being right away.
An appeal is taken to the Superior Court in the County where the municipality is located. The court will decide the case anew based upon the facts and evidence presented in the municipal court. No new testimony or evidence is permitted.
What consequences should I expect if I am convicted of DUI?
Some of the consequences include:
Suspensions range from three (3) months to ten (10) years depending on the offense. New Jersey does not allow for a conditional license.
First offense in court fines total approximately $650-800; second offense, in court fines approach $1,000.00; and third offense, in court fines, are over $1,300.00.
in addition to the in-court fines, you must pay a $3,000.00 surcharge for first and second offenses, and a $4,500.00 surcharge for third or greater offenses.
Community service on second offenses of up to 180 hours.
Intoxicated Driver’s Resource Center
(IDRC): Mandatory counseling or alcohol treatment through the IDRC. The IDRC can also compel you to do more counseling than that which the court sentenced you to, including an additional 16 week program of classes, which require payment for each class.
Ignition Interlock Device:
Certain DUI convictions require the installation of a ignition interlock device. The device is installed on the steering column of your motor vehicle. It requires the driver to blow into the device prior to the vehicle starting. The machine will not allow the vehicle to start of the driver’s blood alcohol level is above a certain level. The device must be installed by a licensed retailer and requires a monthly fee of approximately $75.00-$100.00 per month.
For each subsequent DUI conviction the fines and penalties are enhanced.
Potential Jail Time:
Even first offenders face exposure of up to thirty (30) days in jail. Second offenders face forty eight (48) hours to ninety (90) days in jail. Third offenders face mandatory jail of 180 days (90 of which can be served in an in-patient facility).
Permanent Diving History:
DUI offenses are not eligible for expungement.
Your care insurance rates will increase. You are subject to being surcharged by your insurance company. Your motor vehicle insurance company may also elect to drop you from coverage. Outside of motor vehicle insurance, rates may become unavailable for health, life and/or disability coverage.
Many credit bureaus include DUI convictions on credit reports. This may affect future credit.
Those in military service are forced to deal with an additional set of collateral consequences. In addition to the consequences provided by the State, members of the military are subject to possible demotion or removal from the military. They are also subject to alcohol education courses, base restriction, privilege restrictions and/or other forms of punishment.
There is no conditional driving license that would allow individuals convicted of DUI to drive to and from work while their license is suspended in New Jersey. This can significantly affect your job if you are required to use a car to get to and from work or you use your car for a work purpose.
Some forms of employment may be subject to termination upon a conviction for DUI.
Poor credit has the ability to effect future employment if a credit check is required prior to hiring.
Application for professional licenses may be detrimentally effected.
Does New Jersey have a conditional or “Work License”?
Unfortunately, no. If your license is suspended in New Jersey, you will not be able to obtain a conditional license in order to drive to and from work.
How much will a DUI conviction cost?
The mandatory fines and suspensions vary depending on the offense number (first, second, third, etc.) and the circumstances of the case. That said, the following is a range of penalties that one should expect at a minimum:
- Minimum Fine
- Safe Neighborhood Fund
- Victim Compensation Fund
- Law Enforcement Assistance Fund
- License Reinstatement Fee
- Alcohol Education Classes
- Auto Insurance Increase
- MVC Surcharge
- DWI Surcharge
- Car Tow Fee:
- Car Storage Fee:
The average cost of pleading guilty, without the assistance of an attorney, is approximately $4,000.00. This figure does not include how much your insurance company will surcharge you, which could be an additional $1,000.00 or more a year for three (3) years. What’s more, each DUI charge comes with the potential for jail time. For a first offense, defendants will likely be able to avoid any jail time. A conviction for a second NJ DWI offense carries with it a mandatory jail time of 48 hours to 90 days. Competent representation can limit or avoid these consequences.
Where do I get more information on the consequences of DUI in New Jersey?
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission website is a good resource. Additionally, the following MVC phone numbers are helpful:
- Insurance Surcharge & Judgments: 609-292-7500
- Intoxicated driving programs General information: 609-588-3540
- School IDRC scheduling: 609-588-3530, 609-588-3531
- Suspensions and restorations: 609-292-7500
How will a traffic ticket affect my insurance rates?
Depending on the type of violation, the number of violations and your insurance company’s policies, a traffic violation might result in increased insurance premiums. In general, receiving only one moving violation (such as a speeding ticket or a citation for running a stoplight) in a given time frame (typically three to five years) will not result in an increased insurance premium. However, more than one moving violation or a car accident in which you were at fault in a given time frame may result in an increased insurance premium.
What does is mean that a traffic violation is a strict liability offense?
A strict liability offense is an offense for which proof of “criminal intent” is not necessary for conviction. Stated differently, proof that a traffic violation occurred is typically sufficient to convict the violator. Thus, a driver may be fined for turning into the wrong lane even if he or she did so accidentally, parking next to fire hydrant even if he or she did not see the hydrant, or for an expired parking meter even if he or she did not intend let the meter expire.
What is a 'moving violation'?
A moving violation is an “infraction of a traffic law while the vehicle is in motion.” Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004). A nonmoving violation is an infraction of a traffic law while the vehicle is not in motion. In general, moving violation penalties are more severe than nonmoving violation penalties. Moving violations include offenses such as speeding, failure to maintain lane and Failure to Yield. Nonmoving violations typically deal with offenses involving parking (parking at an expired meter or in a handicap spot), vehicle maintenance (driving with a broken taillight or a burned-out headlight), or vehicle modifications (nonstandard/under-vehicle lights or window tinting).
Will a traffic violation committed in another state affect my driving record in the state in which I am licensed?
In many cases, yes. Most states have signed the Driver License Compact (“DLC”). The theme of the DLC is One Driver, One License, One Record. Under the DLC, traffic violations issued to driver’s licensed in another state are reported to the driver’s home state. The home state will then treat the offense as if it had been committed within its borders and apply its laws to the out-of-state offense.
Do I have to appear in New Jersey Municipal Court for a traffic offense if I reside out of State?
For most New Jersey traffic offense, defendants may resolve their case without the need for physically appearing in Court. New Jersey allows out-of-state residents to enter pleas by affidavit presented to the court by local counsel.
What if I lose my license, continue to drive and receive a ticket for driving with a suspended license?
Driving with a suspended license in New Jersey is a traffic offense that can result in serious consequences. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission may suspend a person’s driving privilege for several reasons, including when a person accumulates more than twelve (12) points, the failure to pay a fine or a surcharge, use of drugs or alcohol while driving, fault in a fatal accident, or reckless driving. New Jersey law prohibits a driver with a suspended license from driving until the suspension period has ended. To restore a suspended license, the driver must pay a restoration fee. The penalties for Driving with a Suspended License are:
- A fine of $500
- Up to six months license suspension
- A fine of $750
- Imprisonment in the county jail for at least one (1) day but not more than five (5) days
- Revocation of the driver’s motor vehicle registration privilege for up to six months if the second offense occurs within five years of the conviction for the same offense
- Up to six (6) months license suspension
- A fine of $1,000
- Imprisonment in the county jail for ten days
- Revocation of the driver’s motor vehicle registration privilege for up to six months if the offense occurs within five years of a conviction for the same offense
- Up to six months suspension
- Enhanced Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License. Harsher penalties for driving with a suspended license apply when the suspension is due to any of the following reasons:
- Driving without insurance
- Driving while intoxicated
- Refusal to submit to a chemical test
- Habitual offender
- Driving in a school zone or driving through a school crossing
- Failure to pay surcharge
- Failure to pay parking judgment
A conviction can result in a range of penalties, including a fine of up to $1,500, a suspended driver’s license for up to thirty (30) months, and incarceration for up to 90 days.
Accident Involving Personal Injury. If a driver with a suspended license is involved in an accident that causes a personal injury to another person, a conviction for driving with a suspended license will result in more severe penalties. The court can sentence the driver to serve a term of imprisonment for not less than 45 days or more than 180 days.