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.