DWI and Traffic Offenses

New Jersey, like many states, prosecutes individuals for driving while intoxicated. New Jersey is unique, however, in that a DWI charge is not a criminal charge, but is a traffic offense. There are other offenses that are crimes where a DWI charge results in injury or death to an individual, but absent death or serious injury, a DWI charge in New Jersey is a motor vehicle charge. As a result, a DWI conviction does not mean a client has a criminal record.

Nevertheless, the consequences for a DWI conviction can be severe. A client who is convicted faces potential loss of license, a potential period of incarceration, fines, penalties, insurance increases and surcharge payments to the State of New Jersey.

New Jersey has undergone some dramatic changes in the last five years concerning DWI. Most importantly, for a first offense there is no longer a mandatory loss of driver’s license in most cases. Instead, New Jersey has adopted the ignition interlock system, which is a device that requires a driver to provide a breath sample at certain intervals in order to operate the car. The interlock system, while burdensome and expensive, allows one to maintain their driver’s license as opposed to the prior system where there was a mandatory loss of driving privileges. A loss of driving privileges in a state like New Jersey where mass transit is inefficient could be devastating to a client in terms of keeping a job and other family responsibilities.

There are potential defenses to DWI charges. The police have to have a reasonable basis to pull you over to begin with, they have to have a reasonable basis to request you to do field sobriety tests and they have to have a reasonable basis to ask you to provide a breath sample. The Alcotest machine, which is used in New Jersey for the taking and recording of breath samples, has a number of technical defenses, including whether the operator was properly licensed, whether the machine was implemented the correct way and whether the machine provided an accurate reading. The offices of Paul Brickfield has represented individuals in DWI and related matters for the past 30 years. You are invited to contact our offices for a consultation on your case. Receiving a DWI charge is a very challenging experience and many clients often accept defeat not understanding that there may be defenses that they are not aware of. You owe it to yourself to contact an experienced lawyer who handles DWI cases to see whether there are defenses available in your case.