It’s late at night and you’re finally making your way home after a long day. After turning onto MacArthur Avenue, you glance at your rear-view mirror and notice a police car lingering in the distance. You check your speed; you’re only going three miles over the speed limit, but you put two hands on the wheel, not wanting to leave anything to chance. You weren’t using your cell phone and your seat-belt was on. You sigh in relief; you should be in the clear and be able to go on your way.
But you forgot about the flickering taillight you should’ve fixed last week. At second glance in your mirror, you see the once dormant police car lights now frantically flickering. Your heart sinks as you pull over to the side of the road. This was not the hassle you needed tonight. Where’s your license? Is my new registration card in the car? Is my insurance up to date? And then you remember; you’d been drinking that night. While you can’t remember the legal limit in New Jersey, you can remember that you had three beers that evening. You weren’t drunk, though. Police officers don’t ask you whether or not you think you are drunk. They arrest for DUI’s based on what science tells them through the breathalyzer test.
Many people think that you are only at risk of being pulled over and being charged with a DUI/DWI if you’re swerving or showing obvious signs. Others are only nervous when there is news of a sobriety checkpoint, such as the ones coming off of Route 35 or US 46. Truthfully, in most cases, people in New Jersey are pulled over for traffic offenses like having awry taillights, speeding, and rolling through stop signs. What started as a minor traffic charge can quickly turn into a serious motor vehicle violation that can leave you in a lurch. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is over .08%, you may have to install an ignition interlock device on your car, among undergoing other penalties.
If you’ve been in a similar situation as this, you know how scary this can be. When you’re pulled over by a police officer and you’d been drinking earlier that evening, it is easy to panic. You’ve heard about the consequences in New Jersey: jail time, license suspension, fines, fees, ignition interlock, and a tainted record. Those consequences can happen to anyone, even in Middlesex County.
As a DUI/DWI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, I receive a great deal of questions from people in Middlesex County about what happens when you’re pulled over and what options you have.
How Do I know if I was Legally Stopped?
Why did the officer stop your car? Did they give a reason, or did they just pull you over? It is important that you ask why you were pulled over. If they did not have suspicion that is justified, the evidence they found while pulling you over could possibly be thrown out at trial.
What Happens When You’re Pulled Over?
When you’re pulled over and an officer suspects you’ve been drinking alcohol, you will most likely be asked to step out of your car. The officer will be looking for signs such as slurred speech, unfocused eye contact, and other body movements that would signal you’d been drinking. The officer might then ask you to undergo sobriety tests.
Should I Do the Sobriety Tests?
If you are asked to take a breathalyzer test, you must take it. If you don’t, you could face another charge in addition to a DUI/DWI charge. New Jersey, unlike some states, has an implied consent law that requires you to take the breath tests after you’ve been arrested for a DUI. You were required to agree to take these tests when you received your driver’s license in New Jersey. If you refuse to take the tests, your license could be revoked for seven months. If it is your second offense and you refuse to blow, your license could be suspended for up to two years.
You will probably also be asked to go through other sobriety tests. Know that during these tests officers don’t just look for whether or not you can complete the tests. They will also observe your behavior through out the tests. They should watch you for twenty minutes after they give you the breathalyzer test or Alcotest 7110.
What are the Consequences of a New Jersey DUI or DWI?
If it is your first offense and your BAC was between .08 and .10, the possible consequences are as follows:
- 30 days of jail time
- Fine (up to $400)
- Loss of license for 3 months
- And more (fees, surcharges, and community service).
The surcharges typically include drunk driving enforcement fund, motor vehicle restoration fee, intoxicated driver program, and more.
It is also quite common for other charges to accompany a DUI. For example, you may be charged with open container or reckless driving. If you’re charged with underage drinking and driving, you may be facing community service, alcohol test, or more.
What if it was my second DWI offense?
The consequences and penalties of a DUI change as offenses are accumulated. If this is your second offense, you can spend up to 90 days in jail, and pay fines up to $1000 dollars. Your license can be suspended for up to two years.
Contacting a DUI Attorney in Middlesex County
After being charged with a DUI/DWI, you may feel embarrassed and ashamed, but most of all, you are probably panicked and confused; what options do I have? Will I lose my job? Will I be able to drive?
It’s normal to have these questions and your DUI defense attorney should be able to help you. The sooner you call someone to defend you and answer your questions, the sooner you will have some peace of mind and know what steps to take next. For more information, call my office. We have locations conveniently located throughout New Jersey, including an office in Woodbridge, NJ.