Bergen County DWI Accident Lawyers
Defending Clients Charged with Drunk Driving Accidents in Hackensack, NJ
Lawmakers and law enforcement seek to keep drunk or drugged drivers off the road through heavy DWI/DUI penalties and special police training to detect impaired drivers. Driving while impaired threatens the lives of drivers, pedestrians, and bystanders, and so, the law comes down hard on those who drive after drinking alcohol or taking drugs. While a first-time DWI is a traffic offense that can change your life for a few years, a DWI resulting in a traffic accident has potentially lifelong consequences. In addition, you are likely facing an indictable criminal charge that can land you in prison.
Reach out to one of our Bergen County DUI defense attorneys, who are experienced in challenging DWI related cases, and serving clients in Ridgefield Park, Palisades Park, Paramus, Mahwah, Teaneck, Fort Lee, Ramsey, and nearby towns. Please contact us by calling us at our office in Hackensack today for a free consultation at (201)-330-4979 to speak to an aggressive DWI lawyer and start building your defense.
NJ Penalties for a DWI are Inconvenient Enough
A first-time offender’s DWI conviction can result in driving with a breathalyzer installed in their vehicle and expensive fines, fees, and surcharges. They will also get educated about drunk driving at an intoxicated driver resource center. But the punishment depends on the driver’s blood-alcohol level. You could get your license suspended for a high blood alcohol content. And the penalties get more severe if you are on your second or third DWI, including jail time and community service. For a refusal to take a breathalyzer test, the driver can get additional penalties, including a year’s license suspension. And while a DWI is a municipal court matter, a DWI with an accident is typically a superior court case. However, the jurisdiction may depend on whether an injury resulted from the accident and the degree of injury. The penalties are much higher in the superior court.
Consequences for Causing Injuries to Third Parties while Driving while Intoxicated in NJ
In addition to a DWI, driving drunk or high or refusing to take a breathalyzer test and then getting into an accident can lead to a third degree assault by auto conviction. Even if the driver has a blood alcohol content of less than .08%, the legal limit, they can still get charged with a DWI when an accident occurs if they have alcohol or another substance impairing their driving capabilities. If the accident causes serious physical harm to anyone involved, the driver in violation of drunk driving or refusal laws can be sentenced to prison for 3 to 5 years and pay a $15,000.00 fine. If any physical injury occurred, the charge is minimally a fourth degree crime, punishable by 18 months in prison and a $10,000.00 fine. And if the accident and injury occurred in a school area or school crossing, the driver can go to prison for up to 10 years for a second degree crime if someone was seriously injured and a third degree crime if someone was injured, but not gravely. Finally, the judge may order the driver to pay restitution to the accident victim or victims, and their insurance company may not pay for damages on their behalf due to intentional drunk driving.
Auto Accidents as Aggravating Factors in NJ Municipal Court DUI Cases
A non-injury DWI accident may go to the municipal court as a DWI. In that case, a judge may consider the accident as an aggravating factor when sentencing the defendant, perhaps giving them a longer jail sentence or license suspension. And if the defendant pleads guilty to the DWI or a judge convicts them of a DWI in municipal court, the plea or conviction can work against them in a civil action. The driver who causes an accident is liable for civil damages if determined to be at fault. In addition, the injured party may sue the impaired driver for bodily injury and property damage. Ordinarily, the plaintiff, or party suing, would have to prove the driver was at fault before recovering damages. Still, with a guilty plea or conviction, the guilty party essentially admits fault. For that reason, the defendant in the DWI case must ask the court to enter a civil reservation, which prevents a judge in a civil action from using the guilty plea or conviction against the driver.
What is Needed to Find the Defendant Guilty in a DWI Accident Case in New Jersey
In finding the defendant guilty of a DWI or DUI, the state must prove the driver operated a motor vehicle while impaired or intoxicated. Thus, if an officer pulls a driver over to the side of the road after observing the car swerve, they can prove the driver was operating a vehicle. Then, when the officer administers field sobriety or breathalyzer test, they can verify the driver’s blood-alcohol level as .08% or higher to prove intoxication. In other instances, when an officer did not witness the defendant driving the vehicle, they can still prove the driver operated a car if they had control over the vehicle with the intent to drive it or make it move. For example, a drunk driver behind a stopped or parked car with the key in the ignition is in control of the vehicle and can make it move at any given moment.
Contact a Paramus DUI Accident Lawyer to Defend Your Case
If you face a DWI with an accident, you need the help of a skillful lawyer who is knowledgeable about DWI charges, DWI accidents, and how best to handle defending the serious allegations that typically follow. In addition, a DWI attorney can help you in municipal or superior court contest charges in numerous ways. For example, when you submit to a breathalyzer test, an experienced DWI attorney knows how to challenge the test results by investigating the maintenance and servicing records of the machine and the police procedures for administering the test. Suppose the arresting officer did not see you drive because they arrived at the accident scene afterward. In that case, your attorney can challenge the state’s burden of proof regarding your operating a vehicle.
With a full investigation before arguing your case before a judge, your attorney may convince a superior court prosecutor to send the case to municipal court if the accident included only property damage. Your attorney can lessen the penalties against you in sentencing by focusing on challenging the DWI. They can also ensure that the judge enters a civil reservation to protect you against a civil lawsuit admission of guilt and maybe even help you convince your insurer to defend you if they refuse to provide a defense to a civil action. In other words, protecting your rights with help from a talented DWI defense lawyer is supremely valuable.
Be sure to talk to an experienced DWI attorney to help you protect yourself against a DWI with an accident in Englewood, Teaneck, Lyndhurst, Lodi, Bergenfield, Cresskill, and surrounding towns in Bergen County. With so much to lose, you want a winning defense team. Call our office in Hackensack at (201)-330-4979 today for a free consultation.