I’ve represented many people charged with DWI in a school zone under NJSA 39: 4 – 50.14. This charge alone carries significant penalties including at least a year loss of license. Of course there are the financial burdens associated with it. But usually DWI in a school zone is charged in conjunction with regular DWI. These are two separate offenses. Accordingly, they carry two separate sentences if found guilty. If convicted these sentences will run consecutively. Consecutively means one after another.
The example I give is one that occurs frequently. Just last week I was representing an individual charged with DWI and DWI in a school zone in a Somerset County municipality. The facts of the case were actually pretty good for the defense. It was DWI based upon alleged drug intoxication. The Alcotest was not a factor since the client had blown zeros. Therefore, the State sought to utilize a Drug Recognition Expert or DRE to make its case. The results of the DRE examination according to the reports were not necessarily conclusive, but with certain additions to the report that could be brought out during testimony the examination may have proven to be conclusive and could lead to a conviction.
Under normal circumstances when only charged with DWI and not DWI in a school zone, this case would be one that I would have absolutely recommended go to trial. There are those instances where after multiple discussions with the prosecutor, the prosecutor will agree to recommend a dismissal of the DWI charges based upon the facts and circumstances set forth by your attorney. This obviously is the ideal situation. But the reality is that does not happen very often. If you have good facts and you’re not offered what you feel to be a fair resolution your recourse is to go to trial.
But when charged with DWI and DWI in a school zone, even good facts do not always warrant going to trial. The reason being is that as part of plea negotiations the prosecutor will usually agreed to dismiss the school zone charge in exchange for a plea to the underlying DWI. This resolution automatically cuts out a potential extra year of suspension. For most people, the threat of going to trial and losing your license for potentially two years is a very daunting proposition.
However, when the facts are in your favor and you truly believe that you’ve been unjustly accused, in my opinion there’s no choice but to go to trial. Even when you’re unsure about your guilt or innocence the the discovery and police reports may reveal significant inconsistencies with the investigation that warrant not accepting any sort of resolution short of dismissal.
There are other issues as well when charged with DWI in the school zone. Many of these issues revolve around discoverable documents such as school zone maps and minutes from Council meetings passing required resolutions to enact school zone maps. One of the most important things that I do during the discovery process (before trial) is make sure that (from a procedural standpoint) the state will be able to prove the school Zone was properly enacted. Challenging this has led to many successful dismissals of school zone offenses prior to trial, thus giving my client the ability to go to trial on just the underlying DWI. This greatly reduces your exposure.
If you have been arrested in Belmar, there is a good chance you have been charged with one of the following:
This list is not exhaustive, but during the many years that I have been representing people charged with offenses in Belmar and other shore towns, it is clear that these are the most common.
Most of my clients I have represented in this capacity are charged with a crime or DWI for the first time and are just realizing that the one night could impact them for the rest of their lives.
It is important to realize that a conviction for any of the above-listed offenses will result in a criminal record that will remain there for at least five years.
If you are a teacher, your employer will be notified that your name has been entered into the State database and you will receive a notice. You could potentially lose your job.
If you are charged with DWI you could lose your license for up to a year for a first offense, two years for a second, and ten years for a third. A third offense carries a mandatory 6 month jail sentence.
The point is this…. you have to give yourself a chance to succeed and hiring a lawyer that not only has experience, but experience in that court is important. I have extensive experience appearing in Monmouth and Ocean County municipal courts and a high success rate.
A free consultation will quickly and comfortably give you the information you need to make good decisions going forward.
If you are facing an offense of any kind in Belmar, don’t compound the situation. Take a deep breath and a little time to educate yourself on your case and make a good decision when it comes time to hire representation.
The New Jersey House and Senate have supported a bill that would make the ignition interlock system mandatory for all DWI offenses. This would be instead of the currently mandatory license suspension. However, if the defendant does not own a vehicle, then his license would be suspended. You would not be able to drive any car that doesn’t have the interlock installed on it.
This HAS NOT been signed and is not law, but it soon may be. I assume that MADD has convinced law makers that people will drive even if their license is suspended for DWI. The penalties for driving while suspended for DWI include mandatory jail time of up to ninety days and an additional year to two year loss of license. If an accident is involved or if there is a prior conviction for DWI on your record, you could be looking at an indictable conviction and many months in the county jail or state prison time. Apparently, the legislature feels that these penalties are not sufficient or alternatively and more likely, the law makers feel that this is a safer alternative to the current system since people can not operate the car unless they blow into the machine and no alcohol is detected. So, if people are going to drive anyway, we mind as well make it safer. I have not looked at the research numbers, so I’m not sure if there is data to support the conclusion that people drive regardless.
Currently, the ignition interlock is only mandatory for a first offense DWI if the BAC is .15 or above or the defendant is convicted of refusal to provide a breath sample. It is mandatory for second and third offenses no matter the BAC level. With the new law, the ignition interlock would be mandatory for the period of suspension and up to ten years after reinstatement, depending on the number of previous convictions an individual has on his record. Right now, the typical period of ignition interlock for a first offense is the period of suspension and up to one year after. For a second offense, the period of suspension and for up to three years following. I don’t think there will be any changes to the time frames.
Even if the new law passes, the additional penalties will remain the same. The high fines, ridiculously high surcharges and insurance surcharges, possible incarceration, loss of employment (imagine telling your boss that you have to install the interlock on all the work trucks or company cars that you might drive). It also will appear on your driver abstract forever.
Regardless, this new law would likely give the DWI defendant an opportunity to keep driving. For most, this is the paramount consideration.