New Jersey’s Governor-Elect Phil Murphy Plans to Make the Legalization of Marijuana a Top Priority for 2018

Federal and State Marijuana Laws and gavel.

As we have previously discussed here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, New Jersey is not part of the list of states where marijuana is legal. However, since winning the November 7 election, Governor-elect Phil Murphy has made it clear that legalizing marijuana will be a top priority. Throughout his campaign, Murphy touted his support for making marijuana available for recreational use for people 21 and older. Early on, he made his support well-known that he would sign a legalization bill when it arrived on his desk. Murphy has indicated that the legalization is needed to make the criminal justice system more fair. Experts also estimate that it will bring more than $300 million a year in tax revenue, which Murphy plans to use to boost spending on education, transportation, and public-worker pensions.

When asked when New Jersey might see this significant change, Murphy stated “[a]s soon as we can get there. We want to get this ball rolling. This is a 2018 priority.” Senate President Steve Sweeney has indicated that he would like to get a bill passed within Murphy’s first 100 days as Governor. Phil Murphy will officially begin his term as Governor on January 16, 2018.

What this May Mean for Marijuana-Related DUI Arrests

Even though New Jersey may be looking to legalize marijuana’s use and possession, it is important to remember that it is, and will continue to be, illegal to drive under the effects of marijuana or THC, the active ingredient. Even if marijuana becomes legal, it can still impair your ability to drive and you will be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if you are found to be driving while intoxicated (DWI) on marijuana, similar to how you can be charged for driving under the influence of other legal substances like prescription medications or alcohol.

If New Jersey does soon fully legalize use of marijuana, some indicate that there a glaring problem for which there is currently no solution. That is, that there is no reliable, efficient field test for driving while high on marijuana. Unlike alcohol, marijuana metabolizes much differently than alcohol. Yes, there are blood tests, urine tests and oral swabs that can determine if someone has marijuana in their system, but it’s much harder, and much costlier, to determine if it got there 1 hour ago or over a week ago.

Moreover, as an experienced and knowledgeable DUI attorney knows, even these tests can be unreliable. Even with a blood or urine test, an expert is typically required to accurately determine the timing. Due to the fact that the State does not have the resources to hire an expert for every case, instead they have to rely upon the observations of Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), police officers trained to spot signs of driving under the influence of drugs, including marijuana. Importantly, those officers’ determinations are rightfully open to scrutiny.

Unfortunately, in Colorado, weed-related traffic deaths jumped by 48 percent after full legalization there in 2014. This means that New Jersey will wary of the potential dangers of legalizing marijuana and will be on high-alert for anyone driving while under the influence of THC. With the law likely to change in New Jersey soon, it is important to understand what is and what is not legal under the law. For now, it is important to remember that recreational use of marijuana is still a crime and driving under the influence of marijuana is taken very seriously by our criminal justice system.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Defend You if You Are Charged with Driving Under the Influence of THC

If you or someone you know is charged for any crime relating to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including marijuana, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who can explain what rights you have in your specific situation. If you go to court, an experienced lawyer can also make sure you get the best result possible and can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

Current Events: New Jersey Rapper, Fetty Wap, Arrested on Drunk Driving and Drag Racing Charges

A police officer holds the breath test machine for a suspect to blow into with a police car in the background.

Rapper and New Jersey native, Fetty Wap, whose legal name is Willie Maxwell, was recently arrested and charged with a slew of charges in New York City. New reports suggest that Fetty was caught speeding on the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn, around 1 a.m. in the morning, when he was pulled over. He was clearly racing another vehicle at the time, and he was likely driving around 100 miles per hour.

After being pulled over, Fetty Wap was found to be driving with an expired license. He subsequently failed a field sobriety test – which could include walking a line, standing on one foot, and performing a gaze or vision test – and was required to submit to a breathalyzer. The test revealed a blood-alcohol level of .09% – over the legal limit of .08%.

Although Fetty Wap was arrested in New York, he is well-known for being born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey.

Speeding and Other Activities That Could Lead to a DUI Investigation

The majority of the time that drivers are arrested or charged for drunk driving, the reason the driver is pulled over in the first place is because he or she committed some other motor vehicle offense. The reason Fetty Wap was required to submit to a breathalyzer test most likely stemmed from having an odor of alcohol on his breath. The police officer most likely had no idea that the rapper was beyond the legal limit of .08% BAC. Once a driver is pulled over, it becomes very easy for a police officer to observe other signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or the smell of alcohol on the breath – giving the officer sufficient reason to require the driver to submit to further sobriety tests, including an official breathalyzer test.

If you or someone you know has had anything to drink, the best advice to not get behind the wheel at all. Even if your driving is not physically impaired in any way, a police officer could still pull you over for any number of reasons. Once you are pulled over, the slightest hint of alcohol could lead to you being arrested and taken to a police station to submit to a breathalyzer test. In New Jersey, you are not allowed to refuse a breathalyzer test, if the officer had sufficient reason to believe you were intoxicated. After that, any result of .08 or higher automatically constitutes sufficient evidence – per se evidence – that could lead to a drunk driving conviction, even if your driving was never affected in the first place.

The following are a list of common things that police officers are looking for that could lead to a drunk driving arrest:

  1. Failure to obey motor vehicle laws, including speeding, failure to stop at a red light or stop sign, or failing to yield.
  2. Swerving, crossing over the yellow line in the road, or otherwise failing to maintain proper lane position.
  3. Braking irregularly or driving suspiciously slow.
  4. Driving erratically or making unusual driving decisions.

If you or someone you know has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney immediately. There are many reasons why the case against you might be improper, including the fact that you should not have been pulled over in the first place. A good lawyer will be able to review your situation, identify the best defenses, and may even be able to have the charges against you dismissed completely.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Will Review Your Case from Beginning to End

Every person is different and every case of driving while intoxicated is different. For that reason, it is important to get in touch with a lawyer who will treat each case specially. If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, you need an experienced DWI/DUI attorney who knows the best way to help and can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

ALERT – Notification Letters Sent, Past DWI/DUI Convictions to Be Dismissed?

Liquor and keys to a car

Earlier this week, prosecutors, municipalities, and government agencies across the state started sending out letters to certain persons across New Jersey who had previously been convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol. If you were charged and found guilty, or if you pleaded guilty, to driving while intoxicated between 2008 and 2016, you may be entitled to have your conviction overturned, retried, or thrown out completely.

If you have not yet received a letter, you may receive one soon. If you have any question about what your rights are, the letter advises you to consult an attorney immediately.

If you do not receive a letter, but believe you should have, you can also contact an experienced drunk driving lawyer to see if you were left out by mistake. This could have happened for a number of reasons, including if you moved to a different address since you were convicted. A drunk driving lawyer will be able to contact the town where you were convicted and see if there are grounds to overturn your conviction.

Who Should Expect a Letter

Nearly a year ago, we on the Edward M. Janzekovich Law Blog discussed a class action lawsuit that was filed in New Jersey, arguing that thousands of DWI/DUI convictions should be revisited and dismissed because State Police Officers may have been lying about whether or not breathalyzer machines used to measure the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of drivers arrested for drunk driving were properly calibrated.

In order to be considered as admissible evidence, a BAC test in New Jersey must be performed using a Alcotest 7110 MK-IIIC machine, manufactured by Draeger Industries. These machines have strict rules for making sure that they are accurate. State Police Sgt. Marc Dennis was officially indicted last December on three criminal charges following Grand Jury Proceedings that accused him of deliberately skipping the temperature check portion of recalibration procedures.

Officials believe that Sgt. Dennis’ failures could have affected BAC readings taken between 2008 and 2016. Since a BAC result of .08% or higher taken during that time could have resulted in an inaccurate DWI/DUI conviction, the lawsuit is arguing that anyone who was convicted based on a close BAC result should have their guilty finding thrown out.

DWI Notification Letter Contents

The DUI Notification Letter being sent out to past defendants will look something like this, although it will vary from county to county:
Somerset Country Prosecutors Office DWI Letter

The letter provides some information regarding why past drunk driving convictions are being overturned.

As noted in the letter, if you have any questions about what the letter means or if you or someone you know is entitled to relief, you should reach out to an experienced drunk driving attorney as soon as you can. A defense attorney familiar with this new legal development will be able to answer your questions and inform you of your rights.

New Jersey DUI Defense Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Makes Knowing Your Rights His Job

If you or someone you know is arrested for drunk driving, or was previously convicted of driving while intoxicated, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who will make it his job to protect your rights. If you go to court, a good lawyer can also help you get the best results in your situation. Having a knowledgeable lawyer can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

Avoid the HORROR of a DUI Charge This Halloween

Car Keys and Alcoholic Drink

When you think of Halloween, do you think of kids and candy and costumes? Or, like many adults, has Halloween also become a time for mature fun, partying, and maybe one too many drinks?

If you are part of the latter, you might not be surprised to hear that over a third of adults plan to attend a party at the end of this month, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. It is also well-known in the restaurant/bar industry that Halloween is the second-best holiday, behind only Christmas, in terms of dollars spent on drinking out.

Of course, if both the retail and food-service industries are aware of these facts, then so are the police departments and government agencies patrolling the roads to keep them safe at the end of October. Expect officers and patrolmen to be on high-alert for anyone showing signs of intoxicated driving for the rest of the month – and for good reason, too, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that more than half (51%) of all national fatalities occurring on Halloween night from 2008-2012 occurred as a result of a drunk driving-related crash.

What Nights Should You Be Most Aware Of?

This year, Halloween falls on Tuesday, October 31. For all the reasons stated above, there will be many drunk drivers on the road, particularly after the trick-or-treaters finish making their rounds. At the same time, the Friday and Saturday nights before and after the holiday are also well-known nationwide for being a particularly deadly time, because those are the nights when parties, bar crawls, and other festivities are most likely to occur. Towns and municipalities across the state will be strictly enforcing all driving laws and looking out for suspicious activity for the rest of the month, but especially on those days.

Where Will Heightened DUI and DWI Enforcement Occur?

Expect police officers to be on the look-out across the state, but especially in places where there will be many teenagers and young-adults. Bars and neighborhoods in or around where colleges will be the most likely settings for a drunk driving arrest. This is because Halloween parties that include excessive drinking are especially popular amongst young adults in their 20s and early 30s – and males ages 21-34 are the most likely demographic to be involved in a fatal, intoxication-related accident around Halloween.

Other popular locations include near any large bars or locations where a known Halloween party will be occurring. Although this might seem obvious, municipalities purposely create DUI checkpoints near known drinking establishments – in the hopes of deterring drinking and driving as well as in order to catch anyone who might be too intoxicated to drive.

What Precautions Should You Take

If you plan on going our drinking or partying this Halloween season, the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to have a plan to get home safe. If you cannot designate a reliable or sober driver, be prepared to call a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to get home. If you drive to the bar, most bars will have no problem with you leaving the car in the parking lot overnight if you are too drunk to drive home. Remember, if you are found sleeping in your car in the bar parking lot, a police officer may think that you were preparing to drive drunk, even if your plan was to sleep it off.

The most important thing to remember is that, even if you think you can get home safely, if you are pulled over or stopped at a police checkpoint with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater, or if a police officer smells alcohol on your breath and thinks you are showing visible signs of intoxication, you could lose your license, be fined, go to jail, and otherwise lose your ability to provide for you family and loved ones. These are extremely serious consequences that could affect you for a lifetime.

If you or someone you know is arrested or charged with drunk driving, you should contact an experienced lawyer immediately. A drunk driving attorney will be able to review your case and may even be able to have the charges dropped completely.

New Jersey DUI-DWI Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if You’ve Been Charged with Drunk Driving

When you or someone you know gets arrested or charged with driving while intoxicated, things could feel extremely scary. You probably won’t know what to do or even what consequences you might be facing. An experienced DUI/DWI attorney can help by reviewing your case, explaining the potential penalties, and presenting the best case in your defense. A good DUI attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

Forced Blood Draws for Drunk Driving Suspects

Miniature car with alcohol bottle, handcuffs and legal scales

The topic of forced blood draws has recently been in the headlines after video was released of a Utah hospital nurse who was placed in handcuffs and threatened with arrest after refusing a police officer’s request to take a blood sample from an unconscious patient.

A few weeks ago, Salt Lake City Detective Jeff Payne handcuffed and dragged Nurse Alex Wubbels out of a hospital for refusing to obtain a blood sample from an unconscious patient. Nurse Wubbels refused to get the blood sample, because she knew that the law required the officer to obtain either consent from the patient for the blood draw or obtain a warrant from a judge. When Ms. Wubbels insisted on obeying the law, Payne used force on her in an attempt to get her to comply – all of which was caught on video and has been repeatedly seen in the news.
Salt Lake City’s mayor has since apologized to the nurse. Detective Payne was placed on administrative leave as a result of the incident and fired from his part-time position as a paramedic. A second Utah police officer, Lt. James Tracy, has also been placed on administrative leave.

Although the case didn’t occur in New Jersey, a lot of the same rules and policies would apply if it had taken place at a New Jersey hospital instead. In fact, police officers, nurses, prosecutors, judges, and attorneys are regularly prepared to deal with the situation of a request for a blood sample for an unconscious patient in this state. If the rules are not followed exactly, it is possible that any evidence obtained from an illegal blood sample could be excluded from court. For that reason, it is extremely important to contact an attorney as soon as you or anyone you know is arrested, charged, or convicted of drunk driving or driving under the influence. An experienced attorney may be able to challenge the evidence against you or get the charges thrown out completely.

Why are Blood Samples Used in DUI/DWI Cases?

When somebody is charged with drunk driving, one of the ways the state can prove its case is by introducing evidence that the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was above the legal limit of .08% or higher. Most people are familiar with the breathalyzer test used to measure BAC, but a breathalyzer cannot be used in all situations. For instance, a driver who is involved in a car accident may be unconscious or too injured to provide a breath sample. In those cases, the investigating officer may want to get the driver’s blood sample tested for alcohol concentration.

When Can Police Officers Get a Blood Sample?

After a motor vehicle accident, wherein a driver is injured, the driver will probably be taken to a hospital for treatment. At the hospital, a police officer will only be able to get the driver’s blood sample under two circumstances: 1) with the driver’s consent, or 2) with a warrant. If a driver is capable of providing consent, then he or she may allow a police officer to take a blood sample. Obviously, a driver can only give consent if he or she is conscious. A driver also cannot give consent if he or she is being sedated or otherwise treated in a way that renders him or her incompetent.

In order to get a warrant, the police officer must apply to a judge for a warrant for the blood sample. If the request is being made after regular business hours, an emergency on-duty prosecutor and emergency on-duty judge will need to be contacted. Regardless of the timing, the prosecutor and the officer will need to demonstrate to a judge that they have probable cause to obtain the blood sample: meaning that the officer has well-grounded suspicion based in citable evidence that the driver had been operating the vehicle while intoxicated – such as smelling alcohol on the driver’s breath. The judge will need to agree, and a warrant will need to be issued and signed. Only after a warrant is issued will the officer be able to order the hospital to get the patient’s blood sample.

How an Attorney Can Help

Although there are numerous ways to challenge a blood sample, one of the ways to challenge blood BAC evidence is to demonstrate that the blood draw was impermissible. This can be because a driver failed to give proper consent, because the police officer failed to obtain a warrant, or because the police officer did not have sufficient probable cause to justify the warrant. If you or someone you know is charged with driving while intoxicated, an experienced lawyer be able to review the evidence against you and put up the best defense on your behalf. An attorney may even be able to have the case dismissed completely.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Will Be There if You’ve Been Charged with Drunk Driving

DWI / DUI cases can often involve complicated issues of evidence, and successfully challenging that evidence requires knowledge and experience about the law. If you or someone you know is facing a DWI charge, a knowledgeable drunk driving attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

DUI / DWI History and What It Means for Uber and Lyft Drivers

Man with an alcoholic drink and keys in his hand next to a car.

Becoming a driver for Uber or Lyft is an increasingly common profession. Some people do it as a full-time job, while others do it to make a little extra money on the side. Either way, people are drawn to the independence and simplicity of the job – you get to decide when you work, you get to decide how much you want to work, and you even get to do it from the comfort of your own vehicle.

There is one thing a lot of would-be-drivers do not know, however. You may not be approved to become an Uber or Lyft driver if you have even one drunk driving charge or conviction on your driving history. Both Uber and Lyft have strict background check guidelines as part of the process for individuals to get approved to drive for the company.

Uber and Lyft Background Checks

When you apply to become an Uber or Lyft driver, you must consent to allow the companies to run a background check and driving record check.

Uber states that, after you fill out the basic online application, you will be asked to complete a consent form that allows Uber to use a company called Checkr to perform the background check. The background check will include your driver’s history for at least 7 to 10 years.
Lyft advertises that its background checks are also performed by a third-party and include national and county-level databases, and, when necessary, local courthouse record checks going back a minimum of seven years or more.

Your driver’s abstract will let these companies know if you have ever been convicted of any DUI or drug-related driving offense, and your application will automatically be flagged for additional review. A DUI within the last seven years can result in your rejection by either company. Both companies advertise that there are no exceptions to this rule.

Moreover, if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony DUI in any state, even if it was more than 10 years ago, this could result in your application being denied.

What About Ongoing DWI Charges or Expungements?

New Jersey does not provide for the expungement of drunk driving convictions, although some other states might. Both Uber and Lyft advertise that they conduct national background checks, so if you have ever been convicted of DUI in any state and wish to drive for one of these companies, it will be helpful to contact an attorney.

If you have a current or ongoing charge for driving while intoxicated, it is extremely important that you contact a lawyer if you hope to become a commercial driver in the future. Both Uber and Lyft state that they will consider all ongoing charges, and if you are in the middle of proceedings regarding a charge for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you can expect to have your application denied or flagged for further consideration.

At this time, your best chance to be able to drive for Uber, or keep driving, if you’re already a driver, is to win your case or have the charges against you dropped completely.

How an Attorney Can Help

Man with an alcoholic drink and keys in his hand next to a car., if you refuse to submit to a blood-alcohol test, or if you are convicted of a DUI/DWI offense in New Jersey or any other state. If you are charged with driving while intoxicated, you should always contact a lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced DWI attorney could make a world of difference.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if Your Job is On the Line Due to a Drunk Driving Charge

If you or someone you know is being charged with a DUI/DWI, knowing the potential consequences of that conviction is important. The difference between guilty and innocent could mean the difference between being able to provide for your family and loved ones or losing your right to drive. If you or someone you know is facing a DWI charge, a knowledgeable drunk driving attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

License Suspension Rules When Your Case is Being Appealed

Suspended License

If you are arrested and charged for a DUI or DWI, you should consult an attorney as soon as you can. An experienced drunk driving lawyer will be able to review your case, request evidence that may be time sensitive, explain to you the penalties you may be facing, and help fight the charges against you even get the charges dismissed completely.

If you have already been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, an attorney can still help. Although it may feel like your case is already over, an attorney may still be able to have your sentence changed or have the charges against you dismissed by filing an appeal – especially, if the municipal court committed a miscarriage of justice, meaning it did something wrong or against the rules.

Importantly, one of the most difficult penalties faced by convicted drivers is the loss of driving privileges that can cause you to miss work and not be able to provide for your family or loved ones. While your case is being appealed, an attorney can argue on your behalf so that you do not lose your license, while you are waiting to see if your conviction is overturned.

Loss of Driving Privileges

The first time you are convicted of drunk driving, you can have your license suspended for either 3 months (if your blood alcohol content is between .08% and .09%) or 7 to 12 months (if your blood alcohol content is .10% or greater). If this is the first offense, a judge has a lot of flexibility in deciding how long to suspend a driver’s license, and other factors can increase the punishment, such as if the violation occurred in a school zone or caused an injury. For a second offense, the law requires you to lose your license for 2 years or longer, while you can lose your license for 10 years or more on a third conviction for DUI/DWI.

How Appeals Work

The majority of DUI/DWI convictions occur in Municipal Court. If you are appealing your initial conviction in the Municipal Court, you are asking to have a higher court, the Law Division in your county, review the lower court proceedings to make sure that there is no miscarriage of justice. The Law Division can reverse the conviction or affirm it. If it is affirmed, you may have the opportunity to appeal the case again to the Appellate Division of New Jersey or even the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Postponing License Suspension on Appeal

Last month, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed certain guidelines that can help drivers appealing their drunk driving convictions. Specifically, if you are convicted, the Court allows you to have the period of time you are losing your license suspended while you request to have a higher court review your case.

Postponing, or “staying,” your license suspension does not happen automatically, but if you make an application to the Law Division to stay your license suspension pending your first appeal, the Court should presumptively grant the request. The guidelines, however, provide that you will most likely not be able to stay your period of license suspension if you appeal from the Law Division to the Appellate Division or higher court. If all the higher courts affirm your conviction, you will then be required to carry out the period of license suspension.

The Courts will also look at a number of factors to determine if you are entitled to a stay of your license suspension. The government or prosecutor may argue to the court that you should lose your license immediately if you present a serious threat to the safety of any person or the community. The Court will also look at your entire criminal past and history of motor vehicle offenses, and it may limit your license while the appeal is pending. For instance, the Court may be able to restrict when you drive your car – to or from work only – or require you have an ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle. Finally, if this is not your first conviction for driving under the influence, the Court may be less likely to grant your request for a stay.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help If You’ve Been Charged or Convicted of DUI/DWI

Losing your license because you have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be devastating. If you or someone you know is charged for any DUI/DWI crime, it is extremely important to contact an experienced attorney who can explain what rights you have in your specific situation. If you are charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, an experienced lawyer can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Discusses Multiple Simultaneous Convictions for DUI/DWI

New Jersey DUI-DWIAlthough it is unlikely, there are rare times when a driver must face charges for multiple drunk driving offenses at the same time. This can result from a variety of circumstances. As a law firm specializing in drunk driving defense, we here at the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog are prepared to help regardless of how unlikely the situation. Successfully defending against DWI charges may result in a reduction of the penalties or can result in having the charges dismissed altogether.

When Multiple Simultaneous Convictions for Drunk Driving Can Occur

First, if a driver drives continuously through various towns and municipalities, he or she may be charged independently in each one of them with a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 – Driving While Intoxicated. A driver in this situations should immediately seek the advice of counsel, because the State of New Jersey treats “one continuous uninterrupted episode of driving while intoxicated” as a single offense, not multiple offenses. Therefore, if an individual receives multiple charges of DUI/DWI during one continuous course of conduct, it is properly addressed as sentenced as a single offense in court, and an experienced attorney may be able to have some of the charges dismissed.

A second set of circumstances that might lead to simultaneous convictions for drunk driving arises when a driver is arrested twice for drunk driving in a very short period of time. This is typically within the same day or night, but it can sometimes occur over a longer period of time. Usually, the picture looks something like this. A driver is arrested a first time for drunk driving, then processed and released. Following his or her release, the driver is still drunk and tries to get behind the wheel of another vehicle. Once again, the driver is found driving under the influence and re-arrested and charged a second time later that same day. This should not happen because drivers are typically not allowed to immediately operate their vehicles after being arrested for driving under the influence. However, there have been numerous reported cases of this happening in just the last year.

Sentencing on Multiple Simultaneous Convictions for Drunk Driving

If you or someone you know is charged with any driving while intoxicated related charge, it is important to seek the advice of a good lawyer as soon as possible. If a driver decides to plead guilty to multiple drunk driving offenses at the same time, sentencing consequences can be complicated and in some cases, severe. In other areas of the law, defendants are typically able to argue to a Judge that they should receive identical treatment on both offenses if they are pleading guilty to two offenses at the same time. This, however, is not true specifically for drunk driving convictions. Unlike other areas of the law, the New Jersey Supreme Court has specifically stated that New Jersey’s drunk driving statutes are primarily punishment oriented, rather than concerned with rehabilitation. Moreover, statutes that are punishment oriented do not require the same type of sentencing treatment as other statutes, meaning defendants can receive different sentences on each of the offenses despite pleading to both at the same time.

For example, if a defendant is pleading guilty to both his first and second DUI offenses simultaneously, he or she can be punished as a second-time offender on one of the DUI offenses, even though he or she had no previous DUI convictions before the court date. The same would be true of an individual pleading to his second and third DUI offenses; he would be sentenced as a third-time offender on one of the offenses. This is extremely important as the differences in sentencing between a first, second, and third time offender is substantial. A second, third, or fourth time offender faces much greater potential fines, mandatory jail sentences and terms of mandatory loss of driving privileges. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the penalties you may be facing.

How an Attorney Can Help

If you are facing multiple DUI/DWI charges, an experienced DUI attorney can help you understand your rights and the potential consequences of multiple charges, especially when it comes to sentencing. A good lawyer will also be able to present the best defense in your favor and may even be able to have the charges against you dropped. Whether you are sentenced as a first, second or third time offender can make a huge difference in terms of jail time, period of license suspension, and fines.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Is Ready, No Matter How Rare the Circumstances

A DUI/DWI conviction means serious penalties that will affect you and your loved ones. For that reason, it is important to consult a drunk driving lawyer who knows how to help. If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, an experienced DWI/DUI attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.