Common Questions - Myth vs. Fact

Ask a Knowledgeable New Jersey DUI Lawyer

1. If my license gets suspended for a DWI conviction, can I obtain a conditional license that will allow me to drive to work?

No. Contrary to popular belief, New Jersey does not have a conditional driver's license program or work license program. If you sustain a DWI / DUI or chemical test refusal conviction, your license will be suspended and you will not be permitted to drive under any circumstances—no exceptions. Moreover, if you are caught driving while your license was suspended due to a DWI or a refusal conviction, you are subject to the traditional penalties for a violation of driving while suspended, as well as additional "enhanced" penalties. These enhanced penalties include an additional 1- to 2-year license loss, an additional large fine, and a mandatory minimum of 10 to 90 days in jail. There are no exceptions to the jail term.

2. Can I talk to the prosecutor about working out a plea bargain for my DWI or refusal charge?

No. By order of the New Jersey Attorney General, plea bargaining DWIs and refusal charges is prohibited. Your DUI attorney can identify defenses in your case, such as lack of probable cause to stop you, lack of probable cause to arrest you for a DUI, inaccuracies or failures in the Alcotest process used by the police, inaccuracies or improper calibration of the DWI Alcotest device, and many other issues. After presenting these defenses, your attorney may be able to convince the municipal prosecutor to exercise his or her "prosecutorial discretion" and provide you a better alternative to a DWI or refusal conviction.

3. If I am convicted of DWI or refusal, can I have that conviction expunged from my record?

No. Under New Jersey expungement law (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-6) and the interpretive cases, motor vehicle offenses are not expungable. This means that a DWI or a refusal conviction will be on your record permanently.

4. If my BAC reading was below .08% or I refused to provide breath samples and I have no reading, can the state still convict me for DUI?

Yes. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is.08% or above, the state can prove the case under what is known as a "per se" violation. This means that if the as prosecutor is successful in introducing the Alcotest blood alcohol reading, he or she will be able to prove that you were intoxicated. Of course, that means that the prosecution must jump through all of the procedural hoops to safeguard the accuracy of the Alcotest device. Your DWI / DUI defense attorney may find that there has been a failure to meet all the procedural safeguards.

Another thing to consider is that the state can prove a DWI charge by the officer's observation of your driving, as well as by field observations during your traffic stop (such as fumbling for documents and the smell of alcohol on your breath). Additionally, the officer may have asked you to perform certain standardized field sobriety tests. Based on the totality of the observations, the court can convict you of DUI without a BAC reading. You should know that many police officers and prosecutors are unaware of the correct standard field sobriety tests and may attempt to introduce tests that are scientifically unreliable. A DUI defense attorney can assist in pointing out these discrepancies.

5. I was charged with a breath test refusal, and I was also charged with DWI. Will my refusal charge get dismissed because of my DWI charge?

Not necessarily. If this is a first DWI / DUI offense for you, the court is compelled by New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines to not dismiss the refusal charge. That means the state will attempt to convict you of the DWI charge and the refusal charge. Combined, these two charges carry 10 to 19 months of license loss on the first offense. For the prosecution to sustain a conviction under a refusal charge, however, it must show that the refusal was unequivocal and that there was no language barrier in your case.

Furthermore, once you refuse the breath test, law enforcement must exercise additional procedural safeguards by reading you certain warnings. Under new case law, if the additional warnings are not read to you, your refusal charge could possibly be dismissed. In addition to that, recent case law now requires the state to prove a refusal charge beyond a reasonable doubt—just like any other criminal charge. This makes the prosecution's case more difficult to prove.

6. If I have out-of-state license and I am convicted of DWI in New Jersey, will I still be required to pay the $1,000-per-year surcharge to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission?

Yes. Even if you have an out-of-state driver's license, case law allows the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to assess the surcharge of $1,000 per year.

7. Does a DWI conviction carry motor vehicle points?

No. In New Jersey, neither a DWI / DUI conviction nor a refusal conviction carries motor vehicle points. They do, however, carry tremendous financial consequences, as well as penalties such as license loss and potential jail time. Moreover, most insurance companies will assess up to 9 insurance points against your driving record for a DWI or refusal conviction.

Insurance companies use both motor vehicle points and insurance points to assess whether you are a risky driver. Riskier drivers are charged substantially higher premiums or can be dropped from coverage altogether under certain circumstances. Finally, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission will collect $1,000 per year from you for 3 years as a surcharge for any DWI or refusal conviction.

If you have further questions for our skilled New Jersey DUI lawyer, call the Law Offices of Christopher L. Baxter at 856-235-9881.

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When it comes to your future, you do not want to place your trust in just any DWI lawyer. Not only does Attorney Baxter have a *10.0 Rating on Avvo, he also is a recipient of the 2015 Clients' Choice award. This demonstrates our attorney's ability to secure favorable outcomes on behalf of our clients, no matter how complex the situation may be. Although you may be worried about what the future holds, you do not have to work through this time on your own. We stand ready to relentlessly defend you from the moment of your initial consultation until the resolution of your case.

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