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What Is the Difference Between a DUI and DWI in New Jersey

September 3, 2014

Probably no other area of the law has as many myths and misconceptions surrounding it than DUI law. If you face a DUI charge in New Jersey, no doubt you have received plenty of “advice” from friends and family. Maybe you have heard rumors about how a DUI is worse than a DWI, or someone has told you that you will get a DUI only if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit.

At the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, you will get straight answers to all your DUI questions. We offer reasonable, flat rates, and attorney Anthony J. Vecchio has both prosecuted and defended thousands of cases all over New Jersey. You can count on our firm to be here when you need us.

What Is a DUI in New Jersey?

In short, no difference exists between a DUI and DWI in New Jersey. It is true that, in some states, DWI and DUI are different offenses, and they may include different penalties. However, In New Jersey, “driving while intoxicated” is the same as “driving under the influence.” Since there is no distinction between DUI and DWI in New Jersey, the potential penalties that individuals face are the same no matter what you call it.

What Is the Legal Limit in New Jersey?

Under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, you can be convicted of drunk driving even if you are within the “legal limit” for alcohol consumption.  You are presumed to be impaired if your BAC is 0.08 percent or higher. Of course, even below this amount, police and prosecutors can use other evidence to try to convict you. Things like video evidence of you failing your field sobriety test, witness statements or the officer’s own testimony can all be used to try to convince a jury that, despite being below the legal threshold for impairment, you were unfit to operate a motor vehicle as a result of alcohol consumption.

For those who are under 21, the legal limit is just 0.01 percent. In other words, New Jersey has a “zero-tolerance policy” for underage drinking and driving. For those with commercial drivers’ licenses (CDL), the legal limit is just 0.04 percent.

What Are the Penalties for DUI and DWI in New Jersey?

For a first DWI offense, you could face all of the following:

  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Between $250 and $500 in fines
  • Three months to a year of license suspension
  • An interlock device to operate your vehicle.

For a second offense, things become much more serious, as you could now face:

  • Up to 90 days in jail
  • Between $500 and $1,000 in fines
  • Up to two years of license suspension
  • An interlock device to operate your vehicle.

Finally, for third and subsequent offenses, you could face the following:

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • $1,000 fine
  • Up to 10 years without a license.

Other Consequences of DUI/DWI in New Jersey

For those with college, military or other career aspirations, a DWI can be a very serious offense. It can mean the loss of scholarships, college admissions, athletic opportunities and even denial of military applications. Many employers will fire a person for getting a DWI, especially if driving is any part of the job or if getting to and from work is going to be more difficult due to a lack of transportation.

For these reasons, it is wise to fight hard to avoid a DWI conviction. Even if you think you have no options, and you have to take a deal, it is still best to talk to an attorney before accepting any plea agreement.

How Plea Agreements Work in DWI/DUI Cases in New Jersey

Once you are charged with DWI in New Jersey, you will be “booked” and processed. This means your photo and fingerprints will be taken. A judge will then set a trial date. Next, you will go through the process of figuring out whether you and the State of New Jersey can agree on an outcome, or if the matter must proceed to a trial.

When you represent yourself, the State has all the leverage. The State has the evidence, the witnesses and the legal knowledge. However, when you hire an experienced DWI defense attorney, you can level the playing field.

If you hire Anthony J. Vecchio, he will get to work demanding all of the State’s evidence.  You have a right to review the evidence against you in advance of trial to look for weaknesses. If you and Anthony can show the prosecutor that the case is weak, you may be able to use that leverage to negotiate a plea agreement.

Here are some examples of things that could help you to get a better deal or even an outright dismissal in some situations:

  • The police had no reasonable suspicion or probable cause for the stop.
  • The police officer improperly used race as a reason for making the stop.
  • The police mishandled evidence.
  • The police failed to give a proper Miranda warning.
  • Th police continued questioning you after you exercised your right to counsel.
  • The breath or blood exams were defective.
  • The police used excessive force or police brutality.

Get Help from a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

When you face serious criminal charges, you need serious representation. And make no mistake: A DWI/DUI is a serious offense. The impact of a conviction could last a lifetime. You really cannot afford to simply sit by and watch as someone else makes decisions about your entire future.

Take control of your life and your case. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC today. We make the process of hiring a criminal defense lawyer straightforward and uncomplicated. We have offices throughout New Jersey, and we even offer free consultations. So, don’t delay, and don’t speak to police or prosecutors until you have talked to an attorney of your own.

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    “Mr. Vecchio was very thorough and efficient. His team was accommodating and the ultimate outcome was better than expected. Mr. Vecchio kept me up to date with every detail via emails and text messages. An all around good guy and family man.”
    “I have been working with Anthony on my husband’s out of state case for a few days now. He is punctual and doesn’t make you feel like you are asking too many questions in such a stressful time. He knows exactly what is happening before you even tell him. He is very professional and treats you like a human at the same time with the most respect.”
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