Criminal Defense Representation in All Courts in Camden County, NJ
After returning from a night in the town in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, or a concert in Camden, the last thing you want to see is a police car’s lights in your rear-view mirror signaling you to pull over. While the reason for initiating the stop may be to issue you a traffic ticket, things can quickly escalate if the officer suspects you have been drinking and driving. Within a short span of time, you may find yourself under arrest for DWI, taken to a police station, and told that you need to give breath samples for chemical testing in a Breathalyzer or the machine that NJ uses called an Alcotest.
If you have never been arrested before, this experience can quickly overwhelm you. The important thing to remember is that you have certain rights that the police, prosecutor, and the courts must respect. Among those rights is being represented by competent and effective counsel from a qualified Collingswood DWI attorney. The Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, represents people charged in Camden County with a wide range of traffic and criminal offenses. We take our clients’ cases seriously and will make every effort to improve your chances of a favorable outcome in court.
Know Your Rights During a New Jersey DUI Arrest
Under the United States and New Jersey state constitutions, you have the right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” This means that the police cannot simply stop you for no reason and demand you submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. Rather, an officer must form a “reasonable suspicion” that you may have broken some traffic law, such as running a red light or changing lanes without signaling. If an officer pulls you over without having this reasonable suspicion, any evidence they gather of a potential DWI can later be thrown out in court.
If an officer does place you under arrest for DUI, you must be read your Miranda rights before you’re asked any questions which could elicit an incriminating response, even though DWI/DUIs in NJ are traffic offenses and not for all crimes. This means you must be told of your right to remain silent and to speak with an attorney. Remember, you do not have to volunteer any information to the police that may be used against you later in court.
The arresting officer must also advise you of New Jersey’s “implied consent” law. This law states that if you operate a motor vehicle on public roads, you are “deemed” to consent to a blood or breath test to confirm your blood-alcohol content (BAC) following a lawful DUI arrest. You can still refuse consent in most cases, but doing so will lead to a separate charge under New Jersey law called a “refusal”. A first refusal to submit breath samples can result in the loss of operating a motor vehicle for no less than seven months and no longer than one year unless the refusal was related to a subsequent violation. More information can be found under New Jersey statutes NJSA 39:4-50.2 and -50.4.
Know the Consequences of a New Jersey DWI/DUI Conviction
A DUI conviction in New Jersey requires proof that the driver’s BAC was at least 0.08 percent. For drivers under 21–the legal drinking age–any amount of alcohol (a BAC of more than 0.01 percent and up to .07 percent) is considered underage drunk driving. However, any driver at any age, even under 21, can be charged with DWIDUI if their BAC is .08 percent or higher. Even without a valid blood or breath test, a New Jersey driver could still be convicted of drunk driving based on other evidence such as the driver’s admission of drinking alcohol or taking drugs as well as the officer’s observations of the driver’s behavior and demeanor.
The penalties for a first-time DUI conviction are as follows:
- a fine of no less than $250 and no more than $400;
- up to 30 days in prison;
- forfeiture of the driver’s license until they install an ignition interlock device (IID), which must remain in place for 3 months;
- at least two days at a state-approved Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC); and
- a three-year surcharge of $1,000 per year on the driver’s auto insurance policy.
These penalties escalate substantially for second and third DUI offenses. In the case of a second conviction, for instance, there is a mandatory jail term of at least 48 consecutive hours and up to 90 days. Your license will also be suspended for at least 1 year and up to 2 years following a second conviction. In the case of a third offense, that suspension is for 8 years and you must spend up to six months in jail.
We Can Represent You in DWI, Non-DWI Traffic Cases, and Criminal Cases
In addition to handling drunk driving cases in, Collingswood NJ, defense attorney Matthew V. Portella handles a wide range of traffic and criminal cases. We can represent you in matters including driving while suspended, driving without liability insurANCE, drug possession, sexual offenses, Megan’s Law registration and Parole Supervision for Life violations, driving with a license suspended due to DWI/DUI, aggravated assault, burglary, robbery, and endangering the welfare of a child, just to name some of the matters we handle.
If you have recently been arrested and charged with a traffic offense or crime in Camden County, contact the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, today to schedule an initial consultation.