New Jersey, like most other states has strict laws and penalties for licensed drivers who are convicted of driving a motor vehicle or operating a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you have received a Summons & Complaint for a New Jersey first offense DUI, what to expect is important to understand.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
In a DUI case, as with any court proceeding, you are innocent until proven guilty and you have the right to legal representation either by an attorney that you hire or from a court appointed attorney if you cannot afford a private defense attorney. Unless you have been charged with felony DUI, expect the case to be heard by a municipal court judge.
The Summons & Complaint you received from the police officer will have a "Notice to Appear" date on it, which is the date you will be arraigned. If you are represented by an attorney, your attorney can attend this hearing in your place and enter your plea of guilty or not guilty. After pre-trial formalities such as a discovery period and motions, you will go to trial for the DUI. New Jersey places a high priority on these cases, so most likely your trial will happen between two and four months after the DUI incident.
What If I am Convicted of a First Offense DUI?
New Jersey uses a wide array of penalties and fines to punish drivers convicted of DUI, even first offenders. If the driver involved is under 21, the legal limit of intoxication is much (BAC .01 to .08) there are different penalties imposed than those discussed here; consult an attorney for specifics. First offender penalties for adults over 21 with a BAC of .08 to .10 include:
- up to 30 days in jail
- loss of driver's license for 3 months
- $250 - $400 one time fine
- $1,000 "surcharge" that you have to pay every year for THREE years
- $230 fee to the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IRDC)
- $275 to three different funds including a drunk driving fund
- 12 - 48 hours of classes at the IRDC
Additionally, there could be other DUI related first offenses you can be charged with and convicted of, each carrying additional penalties. An example of this is a $200 fine for driving with an open container or alcohol or losing your license for 2 years plus a $50 fine if you were driving with drugs in your car.
Get Legal Help
New Jersey DUI law is complex and the penalties if convicted can be severe. You will discover very quickly that you need to retain competent legal counsel as soon as possible for the best defense against DUI charges.