A DUI (driving under the influence) in New Jersey – unlike in most other states – is a traffic violation and not a misdemeanor or felony. As such, New Jersey’s process of trying DUI cases is distinctive. Traffic violations in New Jersey are tried by judges in traffic court and not by juries, which can affect your case. Contact a New Jersey attorney if you have questions about your case.

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New Jersey DUIs

Because a New Jersey DUI is a traffic violation, it is not a criminal act, which is not to say that it is not a serious violation. This fact makes the legal proceedings associated with the DUI charge unique to New Jersey. Further, New Jersey DUI convictions can rack up serious penalties that are significantly harsher than for most other traffic offenses. In fact, the penalties themselves closely replicate the penalties in other states, including steep fines, jail time, and suspended licensure.

New Jersey DUI Penalties

New Jersey has distinct penalties that apply to first-time DUI offenders:

  • Up to 30 days in jail;
  • Fines between $250 and $500; and
  • Suspension of driver’s license for three months to a year.

If the DUI is not your first, the state can implement harsher penalties:

  • Up to 90 days in jail;
  • Fines between $500 and $1,000; and
  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to two years.

Pros and Cons

While New Jersey’s approach to DUI charges are unique, there are several attendant pros and cons that can affect offenders.

Pros

There are two significant benefits to the NJ DUI system:

  • Though a DUI is not a criminal violation, you nonetheless have the same constitutional right to legal counsel, which means that you can fight the traffic charge to keep it off your record.
  • In New Jersey, you’ll face a judge instead of a jury, and judges are typically far more predictable than juries are. If your attorney is familiar with the judge, you’ll also probably have a decent idea about how your case will unfold.

Cons

There are also some significant drawbacks associated with the New Jersey DUI system:

  • New Jersey DUIs are not open to expungement and will stay on your record – no matter how squeaky clean it may be otherwise – forever.
  • An additional charge of DUI within five to 10 years of a previous violation can lead to harsher sentencing.
  • Going before a judge can cut both ways, and some judges take a very strict view when it comes to DUI charges. This can work against your case.

No matter how you slice it, New Jersey DUI charges are serious.

Facing DUI Charges in New Jersey? Call 732-238-8686 Today for More Information

If you or someone you care about is facing a NJ DUI charge, it’s important that you take the matter seriously – you have a lot to lose. If you’re facing a DUI, you need a skilled New Jersey attorney, and David C. Barry, Attorney at Law, is here to help. David has the knowledge and experience to fight – in protection of your rights and your record ­– for your case’s best possible outcome. Contact or call David at 732-238-8686 today.