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DWI Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to defend against a DWI?

Yes. There are many ways to defend against a DWI charge. If you were arrested, contact a DWI attorney as soon as possible.

What penalties does New Jersey impose for DWI?

Penalties for a conviction will vary in severity depending on whether it’s your first, second or third offense.

First Offense
If your reading was under 0.10%, your New Jersey driving privileges will be suspended for three months. If your reading was 0.10% and above, you will lose your privileges in New Jersey for seven to twelve months.

If the reading is 0.15% or above, an ignition interlock device must be installed on any car that is driven by the individual for 6 to 12 months.

You will pay fines and surcharges that total more than $6,500: court fines and assessments starting at $575, a $3,000 surcharge to the State, and usually more than that to your insurance company. Ignition interlock adds more than $1,000 to your costs to $400.

There is possible jail time of 30 days. You would have to complete alcohol awareness classes provided through the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) for 12 to 48 hours.

If the violation occurs in a school zone, penalties are double.

Second Offenses
Second convictions result in a 2-year loss of New Jersey driving privileges and carry fines as high as $1,000, and other similar assessments as in first offense convictions. You must pay for and attend 48 hours of alcohol awareness classes, usually served at a weekend facility. You must perform 180 hours of community service. There is a minimum 2-day jail term, with the possibility of up to 90 days.

For second and greater violations, an ignition interlock device must be installed on any car driven by the convicted offender for 1 to 3 years after the license has been restored.

Third Offenses
On a third or greater conviction, the jail term is a mandatory 180 days, without parole. It is possible to serve up to 90 of the days in an in-patient rehabilitation facility. New Jersey driving privileges are revoked for 10 years. Costs and fines are similar to second offenses, but the surcharge to the State goes up to $4,500. Interlock is required during the period of suspension and one to three years after. Interlock costs are about $1,000 a year for each vehicle you drive in New Jersey.

If I’m asked to submit to a breath test, can I refuse?

You can, but you’ll be charged with a violation for doing so.

According to New Jersey statute, you do not have the right to refuse a breath test without possible penalty. In New Jersey, the operation of a motor vehicle on any public or semi-public road, street, highway, or other area carries an “implied consent” that you will submit to testing. Note that this consent only exists when there is first a reason to believe that the alcohol in your blood is in excess of the legal limit.

Are the penalties the same for Refusal to submit to a breath test and DWI?

The penalties are similar, but there are important differences.

A first offense will result in a 7 to 12-month suspension of driving privileges and will result in a fine of $250 to $500, An ignition interlock device must be installed for 6 to 12 months following the restoration of driving privileges.

Second and third offenses increase the suspension of driving privileges to two years and 10 years, respectively. Note that a prior conviction on a similar charge in another jurisdiction will count as a prior offense when determining penalties in New Jersey. An ignition interlock must be installed on second and third offenders’ vehicles for a period of 1 to 3 years following license restoration.

Refusal convictions do not enhance subsequent DWI convictions.

What happens if I’m convicted of both charges, Refusal and DWI?

First offense cases charging a DWI and Refusal result in a 3-month suspension of New Jersey Driving privileges for the DWI and 7 – 12-month suspension on the Refusal. On first offenses only, the sentences can run concurrent or at the same time, for a total suspension of 7 months.

On second and greater offenses, sentences must run consecutive, i.e. one after the other. Second offense DWI carries a 2-year suspension and Refusal also requires a 2-year suspension upon conviction. If convicted of both, license suspension is a total of 4 years. For a third or greater offense, there is a suspension of 10 years each on a DWI and Refusal, for a total term of 20 years if convicted on both.

What are the penalties if I’m found guilty within 1,000 feet of school property or a school crossing zone?

If you’re convicted of DWI and you are within 1,000 feet of a school, your penalties will double.

For a first offense, there is a loss of New Jersey driving privileges for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years, and up to 60 days in jail. There is also a fine of $500 to $800, additional court assessments of $325 to $400, a state surcharge of $3,000, and your insurance company will surcharge you at least $3,000 to well over $10,000 depending on your specific circumstances.

To be charged as a second or greater offender in a school zone, the prior conviction(s) had to have been in school zones, otherwise, sentencing would not occur under the school zone section of the statute. Non-school zone sentencing would apply.

Second offenses in a school zone carry a mandatory jail sentence of 96 hours to as much as 180 days, as well as mandatory community service for 60 days.

A third or greater offense results in a loss of New Jersey driving privileges for 20 years and carries a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 180 days, 90 of which can be served in an IDRC approved rehab facility. There is no parole on the 6-month jail sentence. Court fines and assessments can be as much as $2,400.

Stating that you were unaware that you were within 1,000 feet of school property or a school crossing, or that it was late at night and there were no juveniles present at the time cannot be used as a defense for a school zone charge.

What additional penalties, if any, would I incur if I am convicted of both refusal to take the breath test and of DWI within 1,000 feet of school property?

If found guilty of both charges, fine amounts would increase by $500 to a total of $1,000, the amount of time that you will be without legal driving privileges increases by one year for the first offense, an additional four years for the second offense and as much as 20 years for the third offense

What happens if my driver’s license was already suspended or revoked when I was stopped for DWI?

If convicted, you will have an additional fine of $500, an additional one to two years without driving privileges, and a jail sentence of 10 days minimum with over 90 days possible.

If you are suspended due to a second or greater conviction for DWI, you are facing a “felony-level” charge and a criminal record. This charge is prosecuted at the county level and carries a 6-month mandatory jail sentence, no parole. In addition, if you are now charged as an alleged third offender for DWI, if you are convicted of the DWI, the jail term runs consecutive but can run concurrent.

What about having a suspended or revoked license and being stopped for DWI or refusal within close proximity of school property?

If convicted, you will be fined for an additional $500, lose driving privileges for one to two more years, and face a jail sentence of 60 to 90 days for the first conviction, 120 to 150 days for the second, and 180 days for the third or subsequent offense.

After the suspended driving privileges period has passed, is my license automatically reinstated?

No. A fee of $200, paid to the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), is required to restore your New Jersey privileges, even if you are an out of state driver, you must pay $200 to MVC to reinstate your privileges in New Jersey, otherwise you will remain suspended in New Jersey forever, and that will eventually catch up to you, when your home state will not renew your privileges where you live because your name is on the National Driver Register (NDR) as still being suspended in New Jersey

If sentenced to jail time, do I have any choices other than spending time in jail?

For first and second offenses, if you are sentenced to jail, you may have other options, specific to your situation.

For third or greater offenses, you must go to jail for 180 days, however, 90 of those days may be served in an in-patient drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility.

If I have prior DWI convictions, can I have them overturned or nullified so that they do not affect a current arrest?

Yes, it’s possible to have prior convictions not considered in a current case. This is called Post Conviction Relief.

You would have to go back to the original court and seek to have the case reopened, or argue that the conviction cannot be used to put you in jail in any current or future matter.

Does a prior DWI conviction from more than 10 years ago count as a previous offense?

If they are your first and second offenses, DWI convictions that occur more than 10 years apart will be treated as unrelated when sentencing for the second. In this case, a second conviction will be sentenced as a first offense.

However, a third conviction that occurs more than 10 years after the second will be sentenced as a second offense rather than another first.

Can the IDRC require me to undergo additional counseling or classes?

You are required to comply with the screening, evaluation, referral programs and payment of fees for:

1. The Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse’s Intoxicated Driving Program Unit
2. The IDRC
3. A program of alcohol and drug education and highway safety

If you do not meet minimum requirements in any of these areas, you can be required to take additional counseling or classes involving additional fees.

What if I choose not to comply with IDRC classes or counseling recommendations?

You will be subject to a mandatory two-day jail sentence to be spent in the county jail and a loss of driving privileges until you comply with the requirements.

What is the DWI law with regard to being under 21 years old?

In addition to any penalties imposed under the usual DWI or other criminal laws, a blood alcohol concentration of between .01 percent to .08 percent will result in the loss of your rights to operate a motor vehicle in New Jersey or to get a license to drive in New Jersey for 30 to 90 days, starting on either the eligibility date for obtaining a license or the conviction date, whichever is later.

You will also be sentenced to community service for 15 to 30 days and will need to satisfy the IDRC fee and program requirements.

How much will a DWI or DUI really cost me?

The following are just some of the estimated costs involved:

• $100 for car towing
• $30 per day for car storage after impoundment
• $250 minimum fine
• $75 for the Safe Neighborhood Fund
• $30 for the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund
• $50 Victim Compensation Fund
• $200 to reinstate your driver’s license
• $3,000 MVC surcharge
• $3,000 or more insurance company surcharge
• $100 Intoxicated Driver Resource Center classes

All told, that’s a minimum of $6,835. But our estimates are fairly conservative, so final costs may be considerably higher. And that’s before you factor in any attorney’s fees.

Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions

What rights do I have as an injured party in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, after someone is hurt or harmed, he or she may be eligible to recover costs (known as damages), pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life from the person responsible for the situation that led to those injuries.

What types of personal injuries can give rise to a lawsuit?

Personal injuries can arise out of many different circumstances.

Although this list is not exhaustive, here are some examples:

– Motor Vehicle Accidents
– Slip and Falls
– Construction Accidents
– Dog Bite/Animal Attack Injuries
– Work Place Injuries
– Bicycle Accidents
– Bus Accidents
– Traumatic Injuries
– Motorcycle Accidents
– Train Accidents
– Hit and Run Injuries
– Pedestrian Accidents
– Premises Liability
– Products Liability
– Wrongful Death
– Caregiver Negligence

What does it mean if a party is negligent?

At its essence, negligence is the failure to meet the appropriate standard of care or act as a reasonable person should under the circumstances. Calcagno & Associates has been focused on winning justice for good people, like you, who were injured because of someone else’s negligence or carelessness.

What does an injured party have to prove in order to seek damages?

In order to bring a lawsuit in New Jersey for personal injuries caused by the negligence of another person, a claimant is required to prove:

1. That the person who caused the incident giving rise to the injuries owed the claimant a duty of care. This can be, for example, the driver of another vehicle in a motor vehicle accident, a property owner or occupier in a premises liability or slip and fall accident, or even a medical professional in a medical malpractice case.

2. That the duty of care was breached. This does not mean that the breach was necessarily intentional, just that it occurred.

3. That the breach of the duty of care resulted in the accident that led to the claimant’s injuries.

4. And, finally, that the total amount of contributory negligence on the part of the claimant is less than the amount of responsibility on the part of the other party or parties being sued.

Should I file a personal injury case or claim?

A huge issue with personal injury cases is people feeling wrong about bringing a claim for injuries they sustain as the result of the negligence of another person or entity. Recovery of money for the negligence of another is a well-settled right. Many times, in not pursuing your just compensation you are only helping insurance companies and hurting your family and yourself.

You may pursue a claim for personal injury without filing a suit or legal action. Many personal cases are settled without a lawsuit of legal action with the insurance company or defendant settling before any case is filed. Unfortunately, because many insurance companies are unreasonable, cases do wind up in a lawsuit or litigation in order to force them to pay. Some factors you should consider in whether to pursue a claim are:

– Was someone else at fault in some way for the injuries you sustained?
– Is your injury a permanent or temporary injury?
– Have you received treatment or do you need to receive treatment for any injury you sustained?
– Did you lose any time from work or school as a result of your injury?
– Do you have any outstanding medical bills as a result of an injury you sustained?
– Has your life been limited in any way as a result of the injury you sustained?

Calcagno & Associates has been focused on winning justice for good people, like you, who were injured because of someone else’s negligence or carelessness. When someone else makes a mistake that causes you or someone you love to suffer a devastating injury, Calcagno & Associates is passionate about holding the negligent parties responsible for their actions. Contact us today for a FREE consultation about your accident or injuries.

Should I talk to the insurance company without a lawyer?

NO. With potential personal injury claims, insurance companies are becoming more and more aggressive with taking statements from victims of accidents. Calcagno and Associates has always advised its client and anyone injured as the result of some type of accident or fall to never give a statement either verbally or written without input from an attorney. Since it is so early after the accident, many people have not even consulted with an attorney as of yet. Furthermore, many people are unaware that you can refuse to give a Statement without an attorney.

How much are my injuries worth?

Every case is different and evaluating a claim is a dynamic and involved process. Much of the evaluation depends upon how injuries heal and if they heal properly. Clients typically want us to come up with a number to value their injuries. Because it depends a lot on how injuries heal, it is difficult to give a number at the beginning of a case. To be sure, the most important part of your personal injury case is figuring out how much your injuries resulting from an accident are worth. Bottom line is that if your quality of life is affected and you have suffered personal injury because of the fault of another, our New Jersey law recognizes that you are entitled to compensation or money for those injuries. Calcagno & Associates has been focused on winning justice for good people, like you, who were injured because of someone else’s negligence or carelessness.

*Results vary, depending on the facts and circumstances of each case. This record of success in the courtroom and at the negotiation table serves our clients in two important ways: (1) It compensates them for their pain and suffering; and (2) It helps them rebuild their lives.

Is there a statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims in New Jersey?

Yes. A person has a limited amount of time to sue for personal injuries. The Statute of Limitations is a law that sets forth the time period by which a lawsuit must be filed. If a plaintiff (the person filing the suit) fails to file the lawsuit within the defined period of time, then the plaintiff will likely be barred from pursuing the case further.

New Jersey law has various statutes that govern how long you have to file a lawsuit. The time limits within which one must file a lawsuit can be found in various statutes, including, but not limited to, the New Jersey Statutes Annotated (N.J.S.A.) at N.J.S.A. 2A:14 and N.J.S.A. 2A:31 (wrongful death actions). Contact us today to inquire as to the time limit that you have to file a claim or lawsuit regarding your specific case or injury.

Can insurance companies use my social media posts against me?

YES. It is very important to be careful when involved in personal injury lawsuits or any litigation about posting information on social networking sites, such as Facebook Twitter, etc.. You may be seriously injured and post some seemingly innocent information about having fun or doing well and then have it used against you by an insurance company or defense counsel in your personal injury case. Keep in mind that you may be seriously injured, but still the wrong choice of wording on a social networking site could be used in the wrong way against you.

What steps should I take after being involved in an automobile accident?

There are several steps you should take immediately following a car accident:

1. Call an ambulance if anyone is injured.

2. If possible (and necessary), move your vehicle away from oncoming traffic to avoid any additional accidents.

3. Call the police to file an official police report, especially if any of the following are involved:
– Significant property damage.
– Serious bodily injury.
– Death.

4. Obtain information from the other party and any witnesses and collect any evidence

Understand that these steps might vary depending on the specific circumstances involving your car accident. For example, if you and/or any other parties are seriously injured and need to visit the hospital immediately, gathering information and evidence will have to wait. Also note that, unless you’re seriously injured and must be transported to a hospital immediately, you must not leave the scene of the accident (often called a “hit-and-run”) without handling the necessary steps related to your particular accident. Doing so can result in misdemeanor or felony charges, as well as hefty fines, all depending on your state laws.

What kind of evidence should I collect at the accident scene?

Exchange information with all other involved parties, including:

1. Names.
– Contact information (addresses, telephone numbers, etc.).
– Insurance information.
– License plate numbers.

2. Each vehicle’s make, model, year, and color.

3. Each vehicle’s registration number.

4. Each driver’s license number.

5. Get statements from any willing witnesses.
– It’s also a good idea to document their names and contact information, too.

6. Take photos of:
– All vehicle damage.
– All physical injuries.
– Any evidence that shows road and/or weather conditions.

Be aware that it’s crucial to gather this information as quickly as possible. For example, physical wounds begin to heal over time and taking a picture minutes after the accident—as opposed to a week later—will better help show the severity of the injury.

Should I call the police after an accident?

YES. It is important to call the police to have a crash/accident report generated. Call the police if there is:

– Significant property damage
– Serious bodily injury
– Death

What if my injuries keep me from working?

Generally, car accident attorneys take lost wages into account when filing suits against insurance companies. Be sure to keep records of specific dates you missed work, the amount of money you lost, and even any money you paid for public transportation to get to work (if your injuries allowed it but your vehicle was too damaged).

What is the difference between “Mediation” and “Arbitration”

Mediation is a fairly informal meeting between the two parties to try to find an agreeable resolution with the help of a mediator.

Arbitration can be a bit more formal meeting, depending on the situation, but during arbitration, both parties can present arguments and evidence to an arbitrator, who then legally decides the outcome.

Generally, attorneys try to take the mediation or arbitration route (or both) before heading to court.


Firm Blog

  • Why You Need a Slip and Fall Injury Attorney to Help You

    January 24, 2018

    After a slip and fall accident, you may be aware that you could file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your medical bills and other costs tied to the accident. However, trying to manage a slip and fall injury claim on your own in New Jersey can be difficult, which is why an experienced personal […] Read More

  • I’ve Been Injured. How Much Is My Case Worth?

    January 10, 2018

    One of the biggest questions many injured people have after a car crash, slip and fall, or other accident is, “how much is my case worth?” Understanding how an insurance company or court might answer this question can help you see what the injury has actually cost you – and help you make better decisions […] Read More

  • Caution When Posting to Facebook When Pursuing a Personal Injury Case

    December 28, 2017

    Many Americans maintain friendships and social connections through Facebook. When a major life event happens, we may turn to Facebook to seek support and talk to those we care about. As a result, it’s not unusual for people who have suffered a personal injury to discuss what happened on Facebook. Unfortunately, doing so can severely […] Read More

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$4.7 M

Verdict - Train Accident

Plaintiff suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured skull that resulted in a large epidural hematoma requiring an emergency craniotomy after a New Jersey Transit train accident.

$4.0 M

Settlement - Bus Crash

Plaintiff sustained multiple fractures and injuries to her shoulder, neck, lower back, leg, and ankle after a bus accident. She required several surgeries which still resulted in permanent damage.

$2.5 M

Verdict - Head-On Collision

Plaintiff suffered multiple injuries, including a right temporal skull fracture, requiring a temporal craniotomy; post-traumatic seizure disorder; and post-traumatic stress disorder.

$2.0 M

Settlement - Wrongful Death

Diesel mechanic was tragically crushed to death while repairing valves in the compactor unit of a garbage truck. Victim’s family sued the truck manufacturer for putting the valves inside the unit.

*Results vary, depending on the facts and circumstances of each case. This record of success in the courtroom and at the negotiation table serves our clients in two important ways: (1) It compensates them for their pain and suffering; and (2) It helps them rebuild their lives.

View More Case Results

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“The amount of pride and overall care he has for his clients is felt immediately. When I first meet him, I never felt rushed or pressured to sign up with him. Andrew and his staff are caring, knowledgable people that make you feel at home.”
- Louis