If you were pulled over for DWI, you are probably afraid, confused and maybe even angry. It’s extremely frustrating to have thought you were OK to drive only to be told you were impaired. It’s frightening to think about what might happen next. You may not even know what is going to happen.
The most important thing is not to panic. Panicking will not help, but taking action can. If you have been charged with a driving while intoxicated offense in New Jersey, you need to talk to a lawyer right away.
Could I lose my license? What about jail?
If this is your first offense, you stand to lose your driver’s license for three months. For a second offense, the suspension is for two years, and for a third offense it is 10 years. If you are under 21, you could lose your license for up to 90 days. Moreover, failing to pay DUI surcharges will result in your license being suspended indefinitely.
In addition to losing your license, you are facing:
- Possible jail time
- Fines, fees and surcharges
- Community service requirement
- Completing the Intoxicated Driver Program
- Possible ignition interlock device installed on your car at your expense
What is an ignition interlock device?
This is a device that works much like a breathalyzer but is installed in your car. It keeps your car from starting unless you provide a clean breath sample, and it can demand a retest while you’re on the road.
The judge may decide to require an ignition interlock even after a first offense. If this was your first offense, you could be required to install the interlock device for between six months to a year. If you blew a blood alcohol content of 0.15% or more, the judge has no option but to order the ignition interlock.
Failure to have an ignition interlock when ordered could mean that you cannot reinstate your driver’s license as scheduled, or even that your driving privilege is suspended for an additional year.
What is the intoxicated driver program?
Even a first offender is generally ordered to take part in the intoxicated driver program (IDP). You will be evaluated for addition and you will receive mandatory alcohol and highway safety training. If your evaluation indicates you are an addict, you will be required to successfully complete treatment. Failure to comply with the program can keep you from being able to reinstate your license.
Now that you know some of the potential penalties for drunk driving in New Jersey, you should contact a defense lawyer right away. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may be able to have evidence suppressed, reduce the charges or even have the charges dismissed. Or, your lawyer can fight for an acquittal.