NJ Drug DWI Lawyer

     New Jersey's DWI law, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, not only covers all drunk driving, but also any impairment caused by being under the influence of drugs.  This includes all drugs, illegal and prescription which may affect your ability to drive.

A conviction can result in major fines, affects certain professional licenses as well as your drivers license for possibly years, and can even end you up in jail.  As such, it is important to keep yourself safe from these charges.  The law offices of Avery & Avery specialize in DUI / DWI defense, having practiced for over 40 years, as defense attorney, municipal prosecutor, and Municipal Court Judge, with among the highest success rates in New Jersey.  For a free initial consultation with a Drug DWI Lawyer, call 201-943-2445.  We regularly defend client's in all New Jersey municipalities in Bergen County, Hudson County, Passaic County, and Morris County, as well as the Central Municipal Courts and the Palisades Interstate Parkway.

What are the Penalties?

The possible penalties depend on the level of intoxication as well as if there are any prior offenses.  Unlike drunk driving offenses, there is no 3-month suspension available for first offenders.

1st Offense:

  • $300-$500 Fine + Assessments
  • 12-48 Hours in IDRC
  • Possible Ignition Interlock Device on Your Vehicle
  • 7-12 Month Driver’s License Suspension
  • Up to 30 Days in Jail

2nd Offense:

  • $500-$1000 Fine + Assessments
  • 30 Days Community Service
  • 24 Month Driver’s License Suspension
  • Minimum 2 Days in Jail and up to 90 Days
  • Screening and Evaluation by the IDRC
  • Installation of Ignition Interlock Device for 1-3 Years

3rd or Subsequent Offense:

  • $1000 Fine + Assessments
  • Possible Community Service
  • 10 Year Driver’s License Suspension
  • Minimum 180 Days in Jail
  • Screening and Evaluation by the IDRC
  • Installation of Ignition Interlock Device for 1-3 Years

In addition to the above, for any Drug DUI, New Jersey will assess a surcharge against you for $1,000 for each of the following three years.

Most often our clients have been given numerous tickets in addition to their DWI summons.  These are usually not as dangerous as the DWI itself, but may involve significant motor vehicle points, and we have great success completely eliminating most, if not all, of these 'extras' and avoid motor vehicle points.  Although with a DUI, there are no motor vehicle points assessed against you, there will be insurance points which may greatly affect your insurance rate.  

Can I win my case?  Do I need a Lawyer?

The complex nature of these cases means it is best to hire an experienced drug DWI Lawyer.  There can be numerous defenses to all aspects of drunk / drugged driving cases, including lack of probable cause and hundreds of technical defenses, which, when properly used may eliminate the State's case and result in significantly reduced fines and suspensions and or an acquittal.  

I refused to take the Breathalyzer / Alcotest, what now?

See here for the full penalties for refusing the breathalyzer.  New Jersey has an implied consent law and under this statute you are required to submit to breath testing if suspected of drunk driving.  If you refuse to take the test you will be given a separate summons with additional fines and license suspension.  This ticket presumes you guilty of drunk driving.  Even with this presumption, the experienced drunk driving defense lawyers of Avery & Avery, often defeat the charges.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I take the field sobriety tests?

Unlike the implied consent law regarding the alcotest / breathalyzer which require you to supply breath samples, you are not required to take part in field sobriety tests.  The police use these tests only to accumulate evidence to convict you, they are not for your benefit.  While we always encourage clients to be cooperative and polite with the police, we do advise that if you are not completely confident in your ability to perform the test, that there is no statute that compels you to take the field test, although some courts will use this refusal as evidence of guilt, albeit less strong evidence as completely failing the tests. Please note that this only applies to tests in the field, and not to the alcotest, for which there will be separate penalties if you refuse.  

Is there any difference between DUI and DWI?

The names are slightly different, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), but they connote the same thing.  In New Jersey, they both refer to the drunk driving / impaired driving statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.

What drugs can I be convicted for being under the influence of?

Any drug that may impair your ability to drive may sustain a DUI / DWI conviction.  NJ drugged driving tickets generally carry the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol. These include all illicit drugs, MarijuanaCocaineMethamphetamineHeroinLSDMDMA (Molly), etc., as well as any prescription drug which may impair your ability to drive.  With the exception of pot, the police generally will have someone suspected of drugged driving interviewed by a drug recognition examiner (DRE) to prove their case.

What is a Drug Recognition Expert?

In all Driving under the Influence (DUI) of drugs cases, except marijuana, the police must have you evaluated by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE).  These are specially trained police officers who may recognize the symptoms of drug intoxication.  Their reports are used in lieu of a breathalyzer test.  

In Marijuana cases, given its prevalence in society, the court allows the testimony of normally trained police officers to prove guilt of driving under the influence of pot.

I have a prior DUI / DWI in another state, will this count as a second offense or third offense?

Depending on which state you were convicted in and what their drunk driving law is, it may or may not.  Generally, if you were caught drinking in another state with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) over .08, your prior conviction will count towards enhanced penalties.  There are fairly common situations, however, in which we can argue for your out of state DUI conviction to not count as a prior offense in NJ.

I was charged with DUI in a School Zone, what does that mean?

School Zone DWI cases carry significantly enhanced penalties over a regular DWI.  It does not matter what time of day it is or whether children are present.  The penalties are as follows:

  • For a first offense, mandatory 1 year and up to 2 years loss of license, a large fine, and possible 60 days in jail.  
  • A second offense includes a large fine, 60 days community service, a minimum of 4 days in prison which can be extended up to 6 months, and a 4-year license suspension.  
  • A third offense in a school zone shall result in a large fine, 6 months in jail, and a 20-year license suspension.  

These penalties are in addition to the other penalties for any separate drunk driving or alcotest refusal tickets.  School zone DUI tickets are covered in section G of the drunk driving statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.

I was completely drunk / stoned, is the case over?

Even in situations where the defendant was falling over drunk or high, the case can be thrown out if there was no probable cause for the initial motor vehicle stop.  In some situations, the police have caught the defendant dead to rights and there are no defenses.   In these cases, an experienced DUI lawyer still can help clients by having most other charges thrown out and reducing penalties to the minimums, which for a first offender could mean the difference between a 7-month license suspension and a several year suspension.

What is an ignition interlock?

An ignition interlock is a device that is attached to your vehicle and prevents it from starting if you have a BAC over .05, as measured by its internal breathalyzer.  See here for more information on New Jersey’s ignition interlock system.

What is the IDRC?

The Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) is a program designed to educate about and deter drunk driving.  You must complete this program before your license may be reinstated.  

I barely drank or was sober but the machine gave me a high reading, is there anything I can do?

This is an unfortunate situation which happens more frequently than one might think.  These cases often require bringing in an expert to testify as to the machines operation, certification and possible malfunction, potentially permitting the charges to be dropped.  Additionally, even with a high reading you may still have various defenses which only an experienced DWI Defense Lawyer would recognize.

Is there any way around jail time if convicted?

In most situations, it is possible to avoid jail time completely.  In others, there are a few methods usable to avoid the harshest consequences of jail such as the loss of a job.  These include day release or weekend jail, time served in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center or inpatient rehabilitation program, amongst others.  These options are all at the discretion of the judge and must be argued for by your lawyer.

What do I tell the police? 

We give the same answer to all clients regarding all criminal charges, say nothing!  Until you talk to your NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer.

How will my DUI / DWI charge affect my immigration status?

This is not a simple question.  Depending on what your status is, and what your charges are, there can be vastly differing consequences including deportation from the United States.  Generally, a conviction under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, is not considered as a removable offense.  However, under certain aggravating circumstances such as if you were driving on the revoked list, as well as several others, a NJ conviction for DUI could affect your immigration status.  If you were also caught in possession of drugs, immigration consequences must be more thoroughly contemplated.

I have been caught on this before is there any way around the additional penalties?

If your prior DUI was more than 10 years prior to your current charge, your penalties will be stepped down.  This means if it is your second DUI but your first one was 11 years ago, it will count as a first offense for sentencing purposes.  Additionally, if you were indigent and without an attorney during your first DUI conviction you may qualify to have your sentence reduced if you were not counselled as to increased penalties on subsequent offenses.

What happens with a DUI checkpoint?

DUI checkpoints are a common device used by the police to catch drunk / drugged drivers.  NJ provides several protections against unlawful police checkpoints.  The police must comply with certain procedures to ensure the lawfulness of the stop.  If they have not complied with these procedures, any evidence collected may be excluded from prosecution.

They found marijuana in the car, what happens?

See here for a full discussion on NJ Marijuana Possession laws. These cases are just like any other weed possession case.  The penalties remain the same, as does the possible 2-year suspension of your driver's license. Possession of pot in a motor vehicle opens many avenues of possible defense, however. There are many possible defects in the way the police handled the case that could result in suppression of evidence against you.  To determine if this is a possibility, please contact one of our lawyers at 201-943-2445.

Are the police allowed to take samples of my blood without my consent?

Blood tests are usually only asked for in the context of someone who is hospitalized and cannot make it to the police station for breath testing.  In this context, you may refuse to provide blood samples, particularly if you are afraid of needles, told the police the same, and actively fought them taking your blood.  

Even so, if they do take your blood in lieu of breath samples, there are many technical defenses with the blood draw itself, as well as chain of custody issues that may be raised to invalidate the test.

In drug cases, the police will invariably also ask for a urine sample.  You do not have to provide this and by doing so you only give them more evidence against you.

Does New Jersey have provisional or work licenses if convicted for drunk / drugged driving?

Unlike States like New York, New Jersey does not have any provisional or work licenses for those whose licenses are suspended due to a DUI / DWI conviction.  There are been attempts to make this the case, but it has been continually shot down by the legislature.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is presently lobbying to change this and instead force ignition interlock devices on all people convicted.  The fate of these efforts is far from certain and until they become successful, the best option is to hire an experienced NJ drunk driving defense lawyer and avoid the conviction in the first place.

If you have an out of state license to begin with, rather than a NJ license, you may be able to obtain such a license at the mercy of those States. You will, however, be barred from driving in NJ even if you can obtain a provisional license from that other state.

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