New Jersey DWI Lawyer
Respected DUI Defense Lawyer Represents Clients in Middlesex County, Mercer County, Union County, Ocean County, and Burlington County, NJ
If you have been arrested for an NJ DUI in violation of NJSA 39:4-50, it is probably a brand-new experience for you. My goal, as an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer, is to use my wealth of skill and experience to help you minimize the long-term effects of a single bad decision. I have been fighting DUI charges in NJ for over a decade as both a municipal prosecutor and DUI defense lawyer. My office has hundreds of 5-star reviews and countless success stories in DUI cases. Many of these were cases dismissed, breath results were thrown out, and reduction or elimination of license suspensions.
Call my office or fill out this online contact form to talk about the full details that led to your charge. Your first consultation is free, so call today to learn more about the advantages of hiring a DWI attorney in New Jersey.
Types of DUI/DWI Cases We Handle
Everyone makes mistakes, and there is no need for a bad decision to stay with you for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, a DWI offense in New Jersey can have dramatic effects that can affect you in the long-term. Those consequences include fines, loss of driving privileges, interlock installation, community service, and Possible jail time
Types of DUI/DWI cases that we handle in New Jersey include, but are not limited to:
It’s common for people to be unsure about what to do after being charged with a DUI in New Jersey. Importantly, you don’t have to go through the experience alone. An experienced DWI defense lawyer can be your best asset if you are charged with a DWI or DUI. At the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, I have more than a decade worth of experience with the New Jersey DWI laws. I know the right defenses that could apply to you, along with the local courts and prosecutors and how they operate.
Why Choose Us?
The most important qualities for a DUI attorney to be successful are experience, diligence, and care. I have litigated hundreds of DUI cases of every variety as a prosecutor and defense attorney. I handle every case I accept personally. My clients have regular access to me via phone, email, and text message. Every case gets the attention it deserves. We will do everything possible to help resolve your case favorably. I have worked hard throughout my career to develop a reputation for providing professional and effective representation to people accused of drunk driving.
- Training. I learned early on in my career how to approach a criminal case from both sides of the courtroom. Interning at both the County Prosecutor’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office before serving as an Appellate Division law clerk provide me with invaluable experience.
- Experience. 5 different municipalities have appointed me as their town’s municipal prosecutor. The town prosecutor has the responsibility to personally prosecute all non-indictable criminal and motor vehicle violations. This includes all DUI and DWI charges. As a defense attorney, I have represented thousands of clients, many involving drug and alcohol-based DUI charges.
- Proven Track Record. We have had countless cases dismissed including many DUIs. Some of these were through motion practice or negotiation. Others followed a trial. We are prepared to handle any DUI case in the state regardless of the facts and circumstances.
- What do Former Clients Say? Hundreds of former clients have been kind enough to leave 5-star reviews for my firm. We work hard to develop trust with our clients and make them glad they retained us. The proof is in the results we obtain for them.
- Responsiveness. Clients find us easily accessible through phone, email, text, and chat. We return all correspondence promptly. You will never feel in the dark or not informed about the status of your case.
- Affordability. We carefully explain the total cost involved with handling your case during the initial consultation. Fees are usually set at a flat rate, agreed upon, and capped. You will never receive any surprise bills or invoices.
Understanding New Jersey DWI Statute NJSA 39:4-50
First, let’s clear up a common question about DUI and DWI charges in New Jersey. DUI stands for “driving under the influence” while DWI stands for “driving while impaired”. In New Jersey, these two terms are used interchangeably, and there is no difference in terms of prosecution, penalties, sentencing, or anything else between the two terms.
New Jersey law states that it is an illegal offense to drive while under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicant with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent. Commercial drivers and drivers under the age of 21 are further restricted, with maximum BAC levels of:
- 0.04 percent for truck and other commercial drivers, and
- An extremely restrictive limit of 0.01 percent for drivers under 21
The thought of losing your license, your money, or worse, your freedom, is overwhelming. Driving restrictions could affect your career, your responsibilities, and even your daily life. You need someone who understands your fears and will fight for your rights after a driving while intoxicated ticket in New Jersey. Our NJ DWI lawyers are here to help
When you retain the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, you can expect an experienced NJ DWI defense attorney to stand by your side during this difficult time. My goal is to provide the highest level of service to DWI and traffic defense clients. I remain current on the constantly evolving criminal and DWI laws, working closely with investigators and Alco-test and police training experts.
Hiring a New Jersey DWI attorney who cares about your case and is experienced will give you the best chance of getting the DUI charges against you dismissed or minimize the DUI penalties.
Many Drivers accused of a DWI are nervous about the consequences of the charges they face, and this is entirely understandable. Your initial reaction may be that you will be convicted of the crime. You may worry that your penalty may have a severe negative impact on the way you live your daily life.
However, it is false to assume that there is nothing you can do about it. On the contrary, there are many ways to fight a DWI in New Jersey. At the Law Offices of Anthony Vecchio, LLC, my team is ready and waiting to help. Please call today, or fill out this online contact form, and I will personally reach out to discuss options to fight your charges.
Elements of a DUI Charge Under NJSA 39:4-50(a)
In New Jersey, a DUI is not a criminal offense, but a serious motor vehicle offense. Like most charges, the prosecution must establish certain elements to prove you deserve the punishment. Under NJSA 39:4-50(a) DUI law, you can be found guilty of driving under the influence if the prosecution can prove the following elements:
- You were operating a motor vehicle. The issue of operation is not as clear cut as it may seem. Most DUI cases begin when an individual is pulled over. In some cases, however, the defendant is not behind the wheel when the police arrive. This often occurs in motor vehicle accidents. Cases involving leaving the scene of an accident can also implicate this issue. A fact pattern that also comes up more often than you might think is when someone is sleeping in a running car. The law is very fact-sensitive on these issues and the case law is constantly evolving.
- You were under the influence of any type of alcohol or drug so that your physical or mental capabilities were impaired. New Jersey defines “under the influence” in terms of having your physical coordination or mental faculties deleteriously affected. This must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt can be created in some cases based on medical issues, lack of chemical test results, or insufficient sobriety test determinations.
- That impairment can be established either by a breath test reading in excess of the legal limit (0.08%), chemical testing, or via law enforcement’s observations. The first matter is known as a per se violation. Chemical testing can be conducted by analyzing your breath, blood, or urine. The second method is based on the rest of the observational evidence in your case. This includes your performance on standard field sobriety tests. The officer’s observations of your operation of your vehicle and your appearance and demeanor are also admissible to prove intoxication. There are ways to challenge both these manners of proof.
New Jersey DWI Arrest Procedure: NJSA 39:4-50
The Stop of the vehicle. In most New Jersey DWI cases, police pull over the driver of a vehicle for a traffic violation. The officer must have at least a reasonable suspicion that you committed a motor vehicle offense. This may be captured on a dashboard camera (MVR) video. The video is a critical piece of evidence that must be obtained and carefully reviewed. The officer may also testify from their memory as to any observations they made of your operation of your car.
Initial Contact with Driver. After stopping the vehicle, the officer approaches the driver and asks for the driver’s credentials. At the same time, the officer is checking your eyes, breath, movements, and speech for any sign of drug or alcohol intoxication. Many drivers immediately ask why they were stopped. Officers are trained however to first collect your credentials before engaging you in conversation. If the officer smells alcohol or has some other suspicion you may be intoxicated, you may be asked to do some preliminary tests at this point.
Pre-Exit Tests. These preliminary screenings are known as pre-exit tests. This means that they are conducted before you are asked to exit the vehicle. Common pre-exit tests include the alphabet test. Officers will ask the suspect to recite the alphabet without singing it. They will usually ask that it be recited from C-W, or simply from A-Z. Another common pre-exit test is the finger dexterity test. In this test, the suspect is asked to complete a series of touches of their same hand thumb and each finger in a specific pattern. There is no requirement that officers administer these tests. However, the police must have some reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence of alcohol at this point to further detain you. That you simply committed a moving violation is not a sufficient basis to ask a driver to exit their vehicle to perform formal sobriety tests.
Standard Field Sobriety Tests. If the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she may detain you for sobriety testing. While you do not have to perform any psychological and physical testing, the refusal to do so can be used against you. (Important: this does not apply to breath testing. If requested to submit to breath testing, you must do so, or risk facing yet another very serious charge of refusal to blow). The three standardized field sobriety tests are the one-leg stand, the walk and turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus tests.
Arrest. If an officer believes there is probable cause to arrest you for driving while intoxicated, in violation of NJSA 39:4-50, you will be handcuffed, placed in the patrol vehicle and transported to the police station. If you are arrested by New Jersey State Police, you will be taken to the nearest State Police barracks. At the station police or barracks, the officers will ask you a series of questions. You have the right to remain silent throughout this process. However, you may choose to offer identifying information like your name and address to speed things along and give some level of cooperation. At the station, you will likely be asked to give breath, blood, and/or urine samples.
Breath Testing. Your breath sample will likely be taken by the Alcotest 7110. The machine will detect your blood alcohol content on the spot. There are certain steps the officers must follow before taking a breath test from you. The first is to bring you to the designated Alcotest processing room. The next is to remove any phones, pagers, radios, or other electronic devices from the area. This is to avoid any potential radio frequency interference (“RFI”) which may impact the functionality of the Alcotest. The officers must then inspect your mouth for any foreign substances. Next, you are monitored for an uninterrupted 20 minutes usually while the officer reads you the standard statement that is required to be given to all DUI arrestees regarding the need to submit to breath sampling. Once the 20 minute observation period is concluded, police will have you take long breaths into the machine. The machine needs two valid readings to report a valid blood alcohol concentration.
Blood Draws. In some cases, the police may elect to have blood drawn from you at a hospital. This usually occurs after a motor vehicle accident. The defendant’s safety and health come first. So instead of taking a DWI suspect to the police station for testing, they are instead taken to a hospital by ambulance. The blood draw is done by a nurse at the direction of the arresting officers. Police need a warrant to draw your blood in most cases. Warrantless blood draws are only allowed in very narrow cases.
Release. The arrested defendant’s vehicle will be towed from the scene and impounded. It will then be held for up to 12 hours pursuant to “John’s Law.” Meanwhile, you can be released to a sober person willing to accept responsibility for you as soon as the police processing at the station is complete.
Ways to Get a NJ DUI Dismissed
Each stage of this process, from the initial stop of your vehicle to the results of the laboratory analysis, can be challenged on various grounds. The role of a DWI attorney is to use their considerable knowledge and experience to either have your case dismissed entirely or to negotiate the best possible outcome for you. Examples of NJ DWI defenses include:
- No reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle.
- Lack of reasonable suspicion to detain.
- No probable cause to arrest.
- Lack of proof beyond a reasonable doubt of operation.
- Discovery violations.
- Alcotest machine not properly calibrated.
- Radio Frequency Interference
- Failure to comply with the “20-minute” rule.
- Alcotest malfunction.
- Lack of Warrant for the collection of blood samples.
Your defense against your DWI charge starts from the moment you are pulled over on the roadway. Your DWI attorney will ask you a range of questions and will need to know everything that happened from the moment you were pulled over. This is why it’s so important to get in contact with an attorney as soon as possible after the incident. The longer you wait, the less you may remember of the interaction, and the less your attorney may be able to help you.
Why is it so important to analyze every aspect of the interaction with the officer who pulled you over? Because, regardless of whether you are driving under the influence or not, you have certain rights that must be respected by police officers. If any of those rights have been violated, this can amount to a possible defense to your DWI case.
DUI Based on Drug Intoxication
In addition to alcohol intoxication, NJ DWI charges can be based on drug intoxication as well. Drug DUI cases are investigated and prosecuted very differently than DWIs based on alcohol. Driving while under the influence of drugs falls under the same statute as driving while under the influence of alcohol. This is NJSA 39:4-50. The same statutory elements must be met: that you 1) operated a motor vehicle, 2) while legally intoxicated. Typical issues presented by drug DUI cases include:
- Officer observations. These may include drugs or paraphernalia in plain sight. The smell of marijuana might be detected. Or the officer may notice other signs of recent drug use.
- Admissions. Miranda warnings are not required during DUI stops. Anything you say can be used against you. This includes admitting to recently using drugs.
- No evidence of alcohol intoxication. If a driver appears to be under the influence but blows under the legal limit on the Alcotest, this will usually trigger a drug recognition evaluation and /or the collection of blood or urine.
- Sobriety testing. Officers on the scene will usually ask a driver suspected of drugged driving to perform the same sobriety tests as in a regular DUI investigation. These are detailed above.
- Drug Recognition Expert evaluations. Some but not all police departments have specially trained officers known as “DREs”. This stands for Drug Recognition Expert. These officers are selected and go through rigorous training to enable them to administer specialized tests to determine what particular substance a suspect may be under the influence of.
- Blood or Urine samples. While blood samples are almost always drawn at a hospital, police can request that you provide a urine sample as well. You have the right to refuse to provide a urine sample. The police cannot compel you to do so.
Drug based DUI cases can be difficult to prove. However, they are frequently charged and you can receive a DWI from smoking marijuana and driving a car. Even drugs that you have a prescription for can lead to DUI charges if you operate a vehicle after taking them. I have successfully prosecuted and defended many drug DWI cases in New Jersey. If you are facing such charges, call or email my office for a free and confidential case evaluation.
Recent Changes to NJ DUI Law
New Jersey recently changed the DUI penalties to reduce license suspension periods for first offenders. Many first offenders were faced with a choice between losing their jobs or violating their suspension, which can result in even harsher penalties.
The new law allows more DUI offenders to keep driving with an ignition interlock device. You are, however, responsible for the cost of installing the device. The device essentially prevents your car from starting if your BAC is above around 0.05%.
Even in the face of the relaxed penalties for first-time DUI offenders, fighting your charges can be key to preventing more serious penalties down the line. Second-time offenders are subject to the same types of penalties, but the fines are higher and time periods longer. Call me today to learn more about how I can fight to keep your record clean.
Penalties for New Jersey DWI
If you are convicted on DWI charges in New Jersey, penalties can include the loss of your license for up to 10 years, community service, jail time, and fines and surcharges. The court will consider a range of factors when determining your sentence, including your BAC level and whether you have any past offenses
First offense DWI penalties in New Jersey could include one or more of the following:
- Loss of license for between three months and one year, according to the following schedule:
- BAC between 0.08% and 0.10%: license suspension until you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for three months
- BAC between 0.10% and 0.15%: license suspension until you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for between seven months and one year
- BAC over 0.15%: license suspension for between four and six months, you and must install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for between nine months and 15 months.
- Drug intoxication – 7 to 12-month license suspension. This cannot be waived even if you install an interlock device.
- A fine between $250 and $500 (depending on BAC)
- A surcharge on your auto insurance of $1,000 for three years
- An assessment of potential alcohol or substance abuse
- Mandatory attendance at a two-day alcohol course at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
If you have a previous DUI conviction within a 10-year period of your new charge, you are considered a repeat offender and may be subject to significantly more severe penalties, including:
- Loss of license for between one and two years (under the old law, a two-year suspension applied)
- A fine between $500 and $1,000
- 30 days of community service
- Mandatory attendance at a two-day alcohol course at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
- A surcharge on your auto insurance of $3,000 for three years
- A mandatory 48-hour jail sentence, with additional potential jail time of up to 90 days
- The installation of an ignition interlock system in your vehicle for between two and four years after applying to have your license reinstated
Third and subsequent offense DWIs are treated even more harshly. If you are deemed to be a repeat offender and this is your third offense, the penalties can include:
- A minimum fine of $1,000
- 180 days in jail, which can be reduced by 90 days for each day served in an inpatient drug or alcohol rehab program
- An eight-year license suspension
- Mandatory attendance for between 24 and 48 hours at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
- A surcharge on your auto insurance of $4,500 for three years
- The installation of an ignition interlock system
Underage DUI Charges – NJSA 39:4-50.14
The law applies even stricter limits to alcohol consumption to drivers who are under the legal age to drink. A blood alcohol content (BAC) reading of between 0.01% and 0.07%, while under the adult per se violation threshold, can lead to underage DUI charges. A minor accused of DUI faces:
- A 30-90 day loss of driving privileges
- Community Service for 15-30 days
- IDP Alcohol Class and Evaluation Requirement
- $1,000 a year DMV surcharge
This does not mean that there is no way to defend underage DUI charges. The same defenses described above apply to minors as well as adults.
Contact an Experienced New Jersey DWI Lawyer Today
New Jersey’s DWI laws can be complex, and penalties for a successful conviction can be life-changing. The worst thing you can do is face these charges on your own. When defending my clients, I leave nothing unquestioned. After the initial discovery, my clients receive an optimized defense taking into account the unique needs and circumstances of each situation. I will personally walk you through every aspect of your arrest, including the negotiation with authorities post-investigation, all the way through trial if necessary.
I aggressively fight the charges brought against you until I exhaust every option. Although no one can guarantee a positive outcome, I will not stop fighting by your side until every possible defense has been explored.
If you have been charged with a DWI, it is vitally important that you get in contact with an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney. I am a former prosecutor and have handled both sides of DWI matters for more than 20 years. This experience gives a unique insight into the scientific principles used by police officers and prosecutors, along with effective defenses to reduce your charges. If you have been charged with a DWI, act now by calling our 24/7 hotline or fill out the online contact form on this page for an immediate response.
Frequently Asked Questions About DWI Defense in New Jersey
It is common to have a lot going through your mind when pulled over for a DWI. Nerves, fear, anxiety, and a host of other thoughts were probably racing through your head as you tried to work out what to do next. In these circumstances, it takes real strength of character to stay calm and polite. Here are some tips:
– Remember that the law requires that you identify yourself to police if asked and produce paperwork as requested, such as your license and registration or insurance documents.
– However, you do not have to give any further information. You have a right to silence, and you don’t have to answer questions about where you’re going, where you’ve been, and whether you’ve been drinking.
– While you don’t have to answer questions, you don’t have the right to lie. You also should avoid being rude to police officers. Instead, calmly repeat that you are exercising your right to remain silent.
– You do have to submit to a breath test. Failing to do so is a separate violation.
– As soon as possible after the charge, contact an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney.
Yes. There are other factors apart from your BAC and prior offenses that can affect your penalty. Aggravating circumstances such as driving with a suspended license, causing injury or death to another person, or having a child in the car with you can cause the imposition of a harsher sentence.
Your sentence can also be increased if police officers add other charges while charging you with DWI, such as possessing drug paraphernalia, refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test or reckless driving.
You can still be charged with a DUI. Alcohol impacts everyone differently, so it is possible that your capabilities were intact. However, under the NJSA 39:4-50 DUI law in New Jersey, you can be guilty of DUI if:
– You were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or
– If your BAC was over the 0.08% legal limit
Because of the way the law is constructed, the police do not technically have to prove you were impaired for the DUI charges to stick. The 0.08% BAC measure provides a bright-line tool for police to use in DUI cases—primarily as a way to deter people from drinking and driving under any circumstances.