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April, 19 2019
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a DWI

If you are facing DWI charges, you probably have two fundamental questions on your mind. First, is there a difference between a DWI and a DUI? Second, will I need to hire a lawyer for a DWI? These are common questions that most people have when facing these charges. Before we dive into the details of a DWI, it’s important to note that there is no difference between a DUI and a DWI. DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. In the state of New Jersey, they’re often used interchangeably. For consistency, we’ll refer to the charge as a DWI in this article. If you’re trying to decide if you should hire a lawyer for a DWI, you should understand the penalties and consequences first.

 

Blood Alcohol Concentration

When you were pulled over, you were probably given a breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (referred to as BAC). Or you might have been required to give a blood sample if you were brought into a station. Either way, your BAC reading was most likely above 0.08% if you were charged. Any BAC readings over 0.08% will result in a DWI. In the state of New Jersey, they have a tiered system that ranks penalties according to your blood alcohol level at the time of the arrest. Regardless of the BAC level, you may still want to hire a lawyer for a DWI.

 

First-Tier DWI Offense

If you had a BAC reading of at least 0.08% but less than 0.10%, you’ll be charged under the conditions of the first-tier DWI offense. This is the least severe punishment you can face, since it involves a BAC over the legal limit, but not beyond 0.10%. The penalties for a first-tier DWI offense include:

 

  • Fines ranging from $250 – $400
  • 12-48 hours of attendance at the IDRC (Intoxicated Driver Resource Center)
  • Face a suspended license of at least 3 months.
  • There’s no required jail term, but it’s possible to face imprisonment for no more than 30 days
  • $3000 motor vehicle surcharge, which can be cut down into three payments of $1000 per year

Second-Tier DWI Offense

If you had a BAC reading that was over 0.10%, you’ll be charged under the conditions of the second-tier DWI offense. This is a more severe punishment than the first-tier. The penalties for a second-tier DWI offense include.

 

  • Fines ranging from $300 – $500
  • 12-48 hours of attendance at the IDRC (Intoxicated Driver Resource Center)
  • Face a suspended license for seven months to a year
  • There’s no required jail term, but it’s possible to face imprisonment for no more than 30 days
  • $3000 motor vehicle surcharge, which can be cut down into three payments of $1000 per year
  • If your BAC was 0.15% or above, you’ll be required to have an IID installed. An IID is an Ignition Interlock Device that requires you to blow into it to start your car. It will only start the engine if you blow 0.00% BAC. It will be installed in your car by a representative of the department. You’ll have the IID for six months to a year.

 

Remember that these charges are considered categories of the severity of the charge. First-tier and second-tier offenses don’t mean first or second charges of a DWI. For instance, you can be charged with your first DWI offense, but face penalties under the second-tier category if your BAC was over 0.10%. This tiered system only applies to first-offense DWI’s. Second DWI offenses will include the same penalties regardless of your BAC. If you have been charged multiple times, it’s strongly recommended to hire a lawyer for a DWI if it’s your second or third offense.

 

Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

It’s vital to remember that you will still be arrested if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test in the state of New Jersey. DWI lawyers will normally advise drivers to take the BAC test. If you refuse, you could face Refusal to Submit a Chemical Test charge as well as a DWI. Refusing to take the test can result in harsher penalties and fines.

 

Hire a Lawyer for a DWI

As you can see from the list of penalties and consequences above, a DWI is something you should take seriously. Between the high fines and long-term license suspension, these consequences are not considered minor. If you feel unprepared to face these charges alone, it’s a good idea to contact a DWI lawyer as soon as possible. A DWI lawyer can help you understand the charges and design a line of defense if it applies to your case. Contact a DWI lawyer today to learn more about how you can move forward with your DWI charge.

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