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Drunk Driving Charges: FAQ

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Drunk Driving Charges: FAQ

If you are stopped or arrested for DUI, you may have many questions about your rights and the procedures you might face. Below are some of the most common questions that people stopped or arrested for DUI have.

Do I Have to Be “Drunk” to Be Charged with DUI?

The amount of alcohol needed for a person to feel “drunk” differs from person to person, and largely depends on height/weight, gender, and personal tolerance to alcohol. Most people who get behind the wheel don’t think they’re too “drunk” to drive.

However, a person can be charged with DUI if he or she is operating under the influence to such an extent that he or she is impaired from safely operating a motor vehicle. 

In New Jersey, a person is presumed to be driving under the influence of alcohol if he or she has a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. But you may still be charged with DUI even if your BAC is below .08 percent if it can be established (usually through failure of field sobriety tests or the police officer’s determination) that your level of intoxication still rendered you unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Can I Be Charged with DUI If I Only Used Drugs?

Yes. A person can be charged with DUI if he or she is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Can I Be Charged with DUI If I Take Prescription Medication?

Potentially yes. Some prescription medications can impair a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Do I Have to Take Field Sobriety Tests?

You are not legally required to perform a field sobriety test if asked to do so by a police officer, and you cannot be ticketed or arrested simply for refusing. In many cases, these tests aren’t really probative of whether a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, by refusing to perform the test, you may arouse the suspicion of the officer who likely will arrest you on suspicion of DUI. 

Do I Have to Submit to a Breathalyzer or Blood Test?

Although you don’t have to submit to a breathalyzer test on the side of the road during a traffic stop, once you are arrested for DUI, New Jersey’s implied consent law comes into effect and you must submit to a breathalyzer or blood test, which will usually be performed once you are transported to the police station or hospital. 

Refusing to take a breathalyzer test will result in a ticket for DUI/Refusal, which will result in identical penalties to those for a DUI. The conviction will rest on the officer’s observations at the time of the stop and your condition when the officer first encountered you. Refusing often makes the case for a DUI charge more complicated; With regard to blood samples, you are not required to consent to a blood draw to test your blood for alcohol, however, the court will draw a negative inference of your refusal and if necessary a warrant can be obtained to draw your blood if you refuse to cooperate. 

Will My License Be Suspended If I Am Convicted for DUI?

Yes, if your BAC is .15 percent or higher for a first offense, or if you are convicted for a second or subsequent DUI offense.

Can the Police Choose What Type of BAC Test to Give Me?

Yes. Although normally the police may not draw your blood for a blood test without your actual consent (not just implied consent), the police can apply to a judge for a search warrant that allows for a blood draw even over your objection.

Can I Get a Restricted License for Work If My License Was Suspended for DUI?

Unfortunately, unlike many other states, New Jersey does not have a “restricted” license in the traditional sense, which would allow you to drive for the limited purposes of going to work, school, or medical appointments. However, for a first time DUI conviction, you may be able to obtain a conditional hardship license, which requires you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicles; this device will not allow the vehicle to start if it detects the presence of alcohol on your breath.

Can I Get My Charges Dismissed If I Was Illegally Stopped by the Police?

The “legality” of your traffic stop is something that will have to be determined by the trial judge. Your criminal defense attorney can review the records of your arrest to determine if there is grounds to argue that your stop or arrest was not based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe you had committed a DUI or other offense, but rather on the officer’s “hunch” that you were driving under the influence. 

If the court does rule that your traffic stop was unlawful, it can result in the exclusion of evidence related to your DUI and to the dismissal of your charges.

Contact an Experienced Scotch Plains DWI Defense Attorney About Your Drunk Driving Charges in New Jersey

Have you been charged with a DWI or DUI offense in New Jersey? A drunk driving conviction could leave you with a permanent record, and it could result in your driver’s license being suspended for a very long time. That is why it is imperative that you speak with a qualified DWI defense lawyer about your case. The lawyers at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC represent clients charged with drunk driving, breath test refusal, and related offenses in New Brunswick, Perth Amboy, Paterson, Clifton, and throughout New Jersey. Call (908) 325-5571 or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office located at 1827 East 2nd Street, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076, in addition to offices located in Westfield, Newark, East Brunswick, Clifton, Cherry Hill, and Elizabeth.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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