Representing People Accused of Drunk Driving and Other Traffic and Crimes in Burlington County
A drunk driving arrest is often a harrowing experience. After being charged with DWI, you may feel your only option is to plead guilty and hope for the best. But the reality is that you always have options when it comes to dealing with the criminal justice system.
An experienced Cinnaminson DWI attorney can help you understand those options. At the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, PC, we represent clients throughout Burlington County who stand accused of DWI/DUI and other traffic offenses and crimes. An arrest is never a guarantee of a conviction. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, you may have more options than you realize. That is why you should never make any irrevocable decisions when charged with an offense without first speaking to a qualified New Jersey criminal defense lawyer.
What Are My Rights in a New Jersey DWI Case?
DWI arrests usually begin as traffic stops. This is where you need to be aware of your rights under the Constitution and New Jersey law. Of course, you do need to pull over if signaled to do so by an office. You are also required to provide your driver’s license. But you do not have to answer any questions about where you are going or where you have been. Remember, your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination applies anytime you are speaking to law enforcement, even if you are not under arrest.
A police officer can pull you over if they have reason to believe you have committed a traffic infraction. A baseless traffic stop–even one that produces possible evidence of DWI–is unconstitutional. If you can prove an officer violated your rights, you can get potentially incriminating evidence thrown out in court.
It is also important to understand your rights when it comes to potential testing for alcohol or drugs. If an officer asks you to take a field sobriety test–such as the walk-and-turn or standing on one leg and counting out loud to thirty–you can refuse but a judge may infer that you didn’t do these texts because you were intoxicated. If, however, an officer lawfully arrests you on suspicion of DWI and requests you submit breath samples for chemical testing to obtain your blood-alcohol concentration – done with an Alcotest machine, the situation gets more complicated. You can still constitutionally refuse to take a breath test, but you will be charged with refusal to submit breath samples. This charge carries similar penalties as a DWI.
What Happens If I’m Convicted of Drunk Driving?
New Jersey’s DWI/DUI laws operate on a sliding scale. The more prior DWI convictions you have, the more severe the penalties. A first offense carries a maximum possible jail sentence of 30 days. A second offense, however, usually means at least 48 hours to 90 days in jail.
A DWI conviction also means revocation of your driver’s license for several months–or years in the case of a second or third offense. There are also mandatory fines and required attendance at an alcohol and drug evaluation course called an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC). In cases where you own or regularly use someone else’s vehicle, a court will require you to install an ignition interlock device on your car instead of a driver’s license suspension.
There are also several special circumstances that can enhance the penalties for a DWI/DUI conviction in New Jersey. For example, if there were any minors in your vehicle at the time of your arrest, a judge can impose additional penalties including an additional period of driver’s license loss. Also, if you caused an accident and someone is injured, prosecutors may also charge you with Assault by Auto or Aggravated Assault. If someone, dies, you may be charged with Death by Auto or Aggravated Assault.
We Can Help With All New Jersey Traffic and Criminal Matters
In addition to our DWI/DUI practice, the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC represents people charged with other traffic offenses and crimes. We can help you with the following matters:
- Driving while suspended;
- Drug crimes, such as possession and possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance;
- Weapons offenses;
- Sexual offenses, including sexual assault and Megan’s Law violations;
- Aggravated assault;
- Resisting arrest or fleeing the police;
- Burglary and robbery;
- Aggravated assault;
- Endangering the welfare of a child; and
- Making terrorist threats.
In short, if you are in trouble with the law, you should consider calling us. Cinnaminson DWI attorney Matthew V. Portella has nearly 30 years of experience helping clients in Burlington County who are facing serious traffic and criminal charges. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.