Joseph A. Lombardo
DUI offenses are taken very seriously in Atlantic City. DUI, or driving under the influence, is defined by the State of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission as operating a motor vehicle with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) level of 0.08% or greater. You might feel sober, but if a police officer determines through a breathalyzer test that your BAC meets or exceeds 0.08%, you could be looking at license revocation, huge fines, and even incarceration.
Regardless of whether this is your initial offense or if you have prior convictions, it is imperative to promptly establish a strong defense. Each DUI case is unique, requiring tailored strategies to potentially mitigate the charges against you. Collaborating with our experienced team maximizes your likelihood of avoiding incarceration and minimizing the duration of your driving license suspension.
Call the Lombardo Law Group, LLC at (609) 445-4300 to get a free case review with our DUI and DWI attorneys.
DUI Laws and Charges in Atlantic City
DUI is a very common charge in Atlantic City. In 2011, over one-third of all motor vehicle accidents were attributed to alcohol impairment. There were close to 200 fatalities resulting from cases of DUI. Over half of those accidents involved drivers whose BAC levels were at 0.15% or higher — well beyond the 0.08% cut-off — and over 26,000 DUI arrests were made. With grim statistics like these, the state of NJ takes DUI charges very seriously — and enforces severe penalties. If you are convicted of a DUI in Atlantic City, there are grave legal ramifications that are strictly enforced.
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission breaks down DUI charges into two categories:
- DUIs with a BAC equal to or greater than 0.08% but less than 0.10%
- DUIs with a BAC equal to or greater than 0.10%
Penalties for a DUI in Atlantic City
The penalties for driving while drunk are severe and may include the loss of your driver’s license, heavy fines, and imprisonment. It should be noted that in Atlantic City, both “driving under the influence” (DUI) and “driving while intoxicated” (DWI) are used to describe the same thing, so the two terms are often used interchangeably.
In Atlantic City, New Jersey, if a person has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is .08% or higher, they will be charged with a DUI/DWI. Penalties vary depending on the range that the BAC falls into and the number of prior offenses.
If a person is charged with a DUI/DWI and their BAC was above .08% but below .10% and it is their first offense, they may face three months of license suspension, a fine of between $250 and $400, time at an intoxicated driver resource center, and a maximum of 30 days’ imprisonment.
A first offense committed by a person who has a slightly higher BAC while driving (.10% or higher) may face a driving privilege suspension that lasts between 7 months and one year, a fine of between $300 and $500, 12 to 48 hours in an intoxicated driver resource center, and 30 days in prison. A second offense of driving with the same BAC may result in a loss of license for two years, a fine of $500 to $1,000, 12 to 48 hours spent in an intoxicated driver resource center, 30 days of community service, and up to 90 days in prison. Finally, a third offense of driving with a BAC of .10% can result in 10 years of driving privilege suspension, a fine of $1,000, 90 days of community service, 12 to 48 hours spent in an intoxicated driver resource center, and 180 days in prison.
0.08% – Less Than 0.10% Blood Alcohol Level
Here is a list of the various fines imposed upon drivers convicted of DUI with a BAC in this category:
- $250-$400 fine
- $230 IDRC (Intoxicated Driver Resource Center) fee
- $100 to drunk driving fund
- $100 to AERF (Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund)
- $1,000/year (for three years) surcharge, totaling $3,000
- $75 to Neighborhood Services Fund
In addition to the fines incurred, the driver also faces a loss of their driver’s license for three months, as well as 30 days in prison. Additionally, they will be required to spend between 12 and 48 hours at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.
0.10% or Greater Blood Alcohol Level
Consequences for drunk drivers with BACs in this category are even harsher due to the higher amount of alcohol and the increased risk factor when driving. The fines increase in turn:
- $300-$500 fine
- $230 IDRC fee
- $100 to drunk driving fund
- $100 to AERF
- $1,000/year (for three years) surcharge, totaling $3,000
- $75 to Neighborhood Services Fund
In addition to the fines incurred, the driver also faces a loss of their driver’s license for a minimum of seven months and up to one year, as well as 30 days in prison. Additionally, they will be required to spend between 12 and 48 hours at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. If their BAC is 0.15% or higher, they will be required to install an Interlock Ignition Device for the duration of their license suspension and an additional six months to one year afterward.
If you are a resident of Atlantic City and you are facing DUI charges, you risk having to pay thousands of dollars in fines, losing your transportation, and losing your freedom. You need the very best DUI attorneys fighting for you. Don’t hesitate — contact Lombardo Law today to explore your legal options.
Penalties for Refusing to Take a Breathalyzer Test in Atlantic City
When a police officer suspects that you have been driving while intoxicated or under the influence, they can request that you take a breathalyzer test. Taking a breathalyzer test will let them know what your precise blood alcohol concentration is; if it is over .08%, they will likely arrest you.
People who are prone to driving while intoxicated or under the influence should know that refusing to take a breathalyzer test is not a way to avoid consequences for doing so. The penalties for refusing to take a breathalyzer test can be as severe as the consequences for driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence. A first offense of failing to take a breathalyzer test can result in a 7-month license suspension and a fine between $300 and $500. A second offense can result in a 2-year license suspension and a fine of $500 to $1,000; a third offense may result in a 10-year license suspension and a fine of $1,000.
How to Defend Against DUI and DWI Charges in Atlantic City
To defend our clients in DUI cases in Atlantic City, our firm employs multiple techniques. The foremost approach is to obtain all evidence against the client in the state’s possession and scrutinize it for any vulnerabilities. This includes scrutinizing police records to identify any errors or violations of the client’s constitutional rights during the arrest. For example, if the collection of evidence was unlawful, we can file a motion to prohibit its use in trial. In certain cases, this might lead to the dismissal of the case.
Another tactic is to examine the chemical reports to identify any inaccuracies in the police’s equipment or processes. If the evidence was processed improperly or if the incorrect blood or urine was tested, it can be argued for its exclusion in court.
Determining if the police had probable cause for your arrest is crucial. In order to make an arrest, the police must have evidence that a crime has been committed and that you are the likely suspect. If the police arrested you without conducting a field sobriety test or breathalyzer but rather on mere suspicion of DUI, we can challenge the arrest and any evidence obtained during the incident.
If the state’s case against you appears strong, it might still be possible to negotiate a downgrade of your charges. If the prosecutor is open to negotiation, it might be possible to reduce your DUI charges, although this option is generally only available at the prosecution’s discretion.
The Legal Process Following an Atlantic City DUI or DWI
After a suspect has been found to have a BAC that is above a certain limit, they will be arrested. Following the arrest, the offender will attend an arraignment. During an arraignment, the court will read your charges to you, and you will be assigned an attorney if you cannot afford one. An arraignment is also a chance to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, then the case is over, and you will have to face the consequences. However, if you plead not guilty, you will then go to a preliminary hearing.
During a preliminary hearing, both sides will present their evidence and an argument in favor of their position. Then, the judge will decide if there is enough evidence to pursue a conviction. If the judge determines that there is enough evidence for a conviction, then the case will go to trial. During the trial, the prosecution will present evidence that proves your guilt, while your attorney presents evidence of your innocence.
Charging and Booking
Police officers make arrests in different ways. Some arrests happen when officers witness a crime taking place, while others come after a long investigation by a grand jury following the issuance of an arrest warrant. If you happen to be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), the Atlantic City police will take you through the charging and booking process. This can be a very stressful experience, but it is important to protect your rights during this time.
While it is important to provide basic information such as your name and address, you are not required to discuss the crime for which you have been arrested. During the booking process, it is unlikely that the police will ask you about the crime. Instead, they will take your photograph, fingerprints, and hold your possessions.
Once you are in a holding cell, the police might decide to interrogate you. However, before doing so, they are required to read you your Miranda rights. If they fail to do so, they cannot proceed with questioning you. Regardless of whether they have read your rights or not, it is advisable to exercise your right to remain silent except when requesting a defense attorney. Once you request an attorney, the police should stop questioning you until they arrive.
The Bail Hearing
If circumstances allow, it is possible for you to secure bail promptly. If this is not the case, a bail hearing should be scheduled within 48 hours of your arrest. The primary objective of the bail hearing is to determine whether you can be released from custody while awaiting trial. During this proceeding, a bail judge takes various factors into consideration, such as the gravity of the offense, your past encounters with the law, and whether there is a credible concern for community safety.
The specific amount of bail required for your release will depend on the nature of the DUI charges against you. However, it is common practice to pay only 10% of the total bail amount if bail has been set.
The Pre-Trial Conference
A pre-trial conference serves as a hearing to discuss the evidence presented by the state in your case and determine if both sides are prepared to proceed to trial. During this conference, the judge will inquire about the details of your case and ensure that you fully comprehend the charges against you. If anything is unclear, it is important to ask questions at this time. Additionally, the conference provides an opportunity to assess whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the trial or if further investigation is required. For example, if the judge agrees that the case should await the results of chemical testing, another pre-trial conference might be scheduled to review the findings or any additional investigations prior to the trial.
Furthermore, pre-trial hearings offer your attorney and the prosecutor a chance to address any plea negotiations that have been discussed. In situations where the state presents overwhelming or compelling evidence against you, it might be more advantageous in the long run to consider accepting a plea deal rather than risk facing the maximum penalty if convicted at trial.
Essentially, plea deals are proposed to defendants as an opportunity to plead guilty in exchange for reduced charges or a more lenient sentence, as it demonstrates their acceptance of responsibility and avoids the need for a trial. However, it is crucial not to accept a plea bargain until you have thoroughly reviewed and discussed it with your defense attorney to ensure it aligns with your best interests.
If a plea agreement is not reached or if the case is not dismissed during a pretrial motion hearing, a criminal trial for DUI or DWI is likely to follow. During this trial, the prosecution bears the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and they must present compelling evidence to support the charges against you.
In the majority of cases, it is generally not advisable for you to testify in your defense. This is because prosecutors often employ cross-examination techniques that can undermine your credibility. Instead, the optimal strategy is for our skilled criminal defense attorneys to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses and present our theory of your case during the closing arguments of the trial. This approach allows us to effectively challenge the prosecution’s evidence and present a strong defense on your behalf.
Second Offense DUI and DWI Charges in Atlantic City
With our unique experience, the Lombardo Law Group, LLC, is able to handle cases for clients who have been previously convicted of a DWI and are facing a second offense. Individuals with prior convictions can face more serious consequences. We have worked to get prior convictions dismissed and stricken. This can be an integral part of building a comprehensive defense against a second DUI/DWI conviction.
DUI Interlocking Device Regulations in Atlantic City
An Ignition Interlock Device is attached to your vehicle and contains a built-in breathalyzer that will prevent the vehicle from starting when your BAC exceeds 0.05% and is the device the Court may require you get to fully restore your driving privileges if your license was suspended because of a DUI offense.
- With the First DUI Offense: Installation of the interlock device is required for six months to 1 year
- With the Second DUI Offense: Installation of the interlock device is required for 1 to 3 years or a two-year suspension of registration privileges
- With the Third DUI Offense: Installation of the interlock device is required for 1 to 3 years as a condition for restoring your driving privileges or a 10-year suspension of registration privileges
Upon receiving a Court sentence to get an interlock device, you will receive a notice of suspension from the Motor Vehicle Commission instructing you on obtaining the Ignition Interlock Device.
Our Atlantic City DUI and DWI Attorneys Can Help
For a free evaluation of your case with our DUI and DWI lawyers, contact the Lombardo Law Group, LLC today at (609) 445-4300.
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