With the onset of the summer months, NJ police throughout the state ramp up DWI enforcement. Accordingly, more drivers are charged with DWI, especially in the Jersey shore area. Those facing a Driving While Intoxicated offense or DUI as it is sometimes called, will ultimately face the very important question of which NJ DWI Lawyer do I hire?
As the DWI defendant surfs the web and absorbs the possible penalties if convicted, panic may set in. There is no sugar-coating it. The penalties can be life altering. The importance of retaining a lawyer with the experience and training to win a DWI case is crucial. I have defended clients charged with DWI and DWI related offenses, such as refusal, all over the state. This area of the law is as complex as it gets in the municipal court arena. Essentially, this is a criminal offense that the state has decided to codify in the traffic statutes. It requires that a lawyer practicing in this area have the necessary training and experience to not only understand the complexity of the available defenses, but also the science behind the testing devices and procedures utilized in DWI investigations and prosecutions.
With most DWI charges, the state will be relying upon the Alcotest readings (previously Breathalyzer) to prove its case. This is called a per se offense. The penalties and license suspension the DUI/DWI defendant faces will usually depend on what he “blows.” A 0.10 BAC and above subjects the first offense DWI defendant to a license suspension ranging from 7 months to 1 year. A reading of 0.08 BAC to .09 BAC can result in a minimum and maximum of a three-month suspension. Most DWI offenses fall into the category of the 0.10 and above range. Therefore, most arrested and charged with DWI are facing a seven month to one year loss of license in connection with a first offense.
You probably are aware of most of the potential penalties at this point. If not, my site contains information galore on the potential penalties. I only offer this information above for ONE purpose. Ask yourself, if the state cannot rely on the Alcotest readings, what happens then?
This is where a good/experienced/trained DWI lawyer makes his money. “Suppressing” the Alcotest readings is typically the most important part of the DWI defense. Doing so requires more than just surface knowledge of DWI law and procedure. The mistakes that may lead to the suppression of the Alcotest readings are usually embedded in the pages of discovery a DWI lawyer will request from the State. These mistakes are frequently not clear or obvious. Knowing what to ask for and what to look for is not accomplished without training and study of DWI laws and procedures. Personally, I am certified in both the administration of the Alcotest and the Field Sobriety test, and go to trial on DWI cases. Ask your potential lawyer candidates about these certifications. You will most likely find that few are certified.
Why is it so important to suppress the readings? Well, assuming that you blew a 0.13 BAC, which would subject you to a starting point of a 7 mth- 1 yr license suspension, if the state has no readings to rely upon, your starting point suspension goes down to 3 months, a difference of possibly 9 months.
Consider this- once the readings are gone, the State must rely upon the observations of the police officer who conducted the field sobriety test to prove your are guilty of the three-month DWI offense. Observations may be enough to prove you are guilty, but only at the three-month level. However, what if your attorney can effectively cross-examine the officer who performed these tests and it is shown that he did so improperly? If your DWI lawyer does this effectively, you may be found not guilty of DWI all together. Is your attorney certified in the administration of these tests? Will he know the right questions to ask?
What if the basis for the initial stop of your vehicle was illegal, which would result in the charges being dismissed all together if you could prove it. Has your lawyer ever argued a probable cause motion for a DWI related offense?
The list can go on and on as it pertains to possible twist and turns a DWI case can take. Therefore, it is very important that you have a lawyer who is qualified to handle it and is not going to rip you off in the process.
Money…how much should it cost? Well, you will get prices all over the board. Expensive doesn’t mean good and cheap does not mean bad. But, DWI cases are long hauls, with multiple court appearances, motions, trials, experts, etc. The reality is this…if your lawyer is going to do you justice, he will have to spend A LOT of time on your case. Therefore, in my opinion, you should be skeptical of a “low-ball” quotes. Likewise, a very high number should also be scrutinized and questioned. I would never quote fees in an article such as this, but for the type of knowledge and experience I have, my fees are VERY reasonable as compared with similarly qualified attorneys.
Once it has been established that the lawyers you are dealing with are sufficiently qualified, there is (of course) a comfort level that you must have with the attorney. This comfort level may or may not come with a price tag, but that will be a personal decision to be made by the defendant.
I can be reached to answer your questions at the number provided on the top of this page.