Additional Resources for DWI and Other Serious Cases

Common DWI Terms and Definitions

Appeals

A driver can appeal their case to the local county Superior Court. In many cases an appeal is the best way a driver can win their case. There is a lot less political pressure to convict DWI drivers at the Superior Court, than in the local Municipal Courts. However, DWI appeals can be very expensive. The DWI driver also has to pay for the transcripts of the trial and this can costs hundreds of dollars.

B.A.C. Readings

This is the acronym for blood alcohol concentration. The alcotest machine determines how alcohol is in the driver’s system. The lingo is called “B.A.C.” readings.

Breathalyzer

This is the machine that the cops use to test the driver’s blood alcohol concentration. These machines are being phased out, and in a few years they will be outdated, and they are no longer used.

Bankruptcy of Surcharges

Surcharges can only be discharged in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Surcharges can’t be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If a driver is stopped for driving while suspended for failure to pay surcharges, then there is an additional $3,000 surcharge that is assessed.

Bench Warrant

If you do not appear at court, then the court will issue a bench warrant. The judge will order that the police go to the driver’s home and pick him up. Moreover, many times the bench warrant will be activated if the driver is stopped at a later time by another police officer. The driver will then be taken to the local county jail.

Blood Tests

In many hard core DWI cases especially in accident cases, the police will make the driver take a blood test. The driver is taken to the local hospital and a nurse gives him a blood test. The blood test will also give the driver his B.A.C. reading.

“Blowing Off” Tickets and Moving to Another State

A driver must beware of ignoring tickets by simply moving to another state. Eventually the new state will become aware that the driver is suspended in New Jersey. Most states are part of an interstate compact agreement. Therefore, all of the states are connected by the internet, and all states keep track of each other drivers. In short if a driver does not pay his N.J. tickets, eventually, the new state will not renew the driver’s license, because it is suspended in New Jersey.

Collateral Consequences

After a driver is convicted of DWI then there are many additional penalties that will be imposed. The driver will have their automobile insurance doubled, he will receive heavy duty insurance surcharges from the MVS, and his ability to obtain many different types of jobs will be impaired.

Conditional Driver’s License

New Jersey does not have a conditional driver’s license as some other states have. If you lose your driver’s license in New Jersey, then you can’t drive at all, even if you are only driving to work.

Discovery

One of the most important part of a DWI case is called “discovery.” Here the DWI driver is permitted to get all copies of the police reports, and the info about the breathalyzer machine. Sometimes it is amazing what the discovery reveals about the police officer’s training, and the functioning of the alcotest machine.

DMV Hearing

If a driver gets 12 or more points the MVS will issue an administrative suspension. The typical suspension period is for 180 days. The driver can request a MVS hearing with a hearing officer. At the hearing, most of the times the suspension can be reduced to 30 days or less. The hearings are held at the MVS regional offices.

Driver’s Abstract

This is a report of a driver’s history. This report can be obtained by the MVS for a fee of $10. It is always a good idea to get a copy of your MVS record in any municipal court case. Sometimes, old offenses may reappear at your case, and they may trigger jail time. It is astonishing how some drivers forget some very serious motor vehicle offenses that they have committed.

Field Sobriety Tests

These are the physical tests that the police make a DWI driver perform after they are stopped. These tests include the one legged stand test, the walk and turn test, the sway test, and the finger to nose test. Quite often the tests are not administered in a fair manner to the DWI driver. These field sobriety tests are also known as psycho-physical tests.

FTA

If a driver does not appear at court to fight his ticket, then the court will issue an FTA. Normally, the driver will be noticed, and he will be given a chance to appear at a rescheduled court date. The court will assess an additional fine of $50 to $100 for the driver failing to appear.

Insurance Eligibility Points

If a driver is busted for DWI then he will also recieve insurance eligibility points. These points for the most part are the same as point violations.

Intoxicated Driver Resource Center

After a DWI driver is convicted then he must also “serve time” at the IDRC. This is also known as the drunk tank. Here the DWI driver will attend seminars and watch videos that explain the perils of drinking and driving. In some cases the IDRC seminar will really make an impression on the driver and he will never drink and drive again. However, tragically in other cases most drivers can attend a years worth of seminars, and they will still drink and drive.

Motor Vehicle Points

A driver can receive to 12 points on his N.J. license. Every time a driver is convicted of a traffic offense, he is assessed points, and the records are then sent to the MVS in Trenton, N.J. Once a driver obtains 12 points he gets a notice that he will receive an administrative suspension for 180 days.

Municipal Ordinance

Quite often a driver will by charged with disorderly people’s offense. A good lawyer will try to get the charges downgraded to a municipal ordinance. This type of charge will not give a person a criminal record and it is not searchable on any criminal record databases.

Payment Plan of Fines

Quite often the fines are outrageous for traffic cases. The municipal court judge will permit a driver to pay the fines over time, if after review of a financial disclosure, the driver proves that he can’t make the payments. Each municipal court judge has their own “collection” policies. Therefore, it is advisable for all drivers to come to court with at least $200 to make payments. A payment of $200 will show the court some respect for the seriousness of the proceeding.

Payment of Fines by Credit Card

Some municipal courts permit drivers to pay fines by credit card. However, this practice varies from court to court. Always call the court before the hearing, to assess if the court will accept a credit card. This can be a great way to earn frequent flier miles!

Refusal to Submit to Breath Test

This is a charge that a driver receives when he refused to take the breath test.

Revocation

Your license or privilege to drive is canceled. To get a new license, you must re-apply to the Motor Vehicle Services (MVS) once the revocation period is over. A bad driving record or refusing to meet MVS requirements may cause your application to be denied.

SLAP Programs

This is a program that permits drivers to perform their jail time by performing community service. One day of jail time equals six hours of community service

Suspension

Your license is taken away for a period of time before it is returned to you.

Temporary Driver’s License

Quite often a driver will get to the municipal court by driving their car. At court the driver may have his license immediately suspended. A municipal court judge often grants a driver who has just lost their driver”s license, a temporary one hour license. This will permit the defendant to drive home. Remember a temporary license is just what it says – temporary. It should not be abused.

Work Release Program

In most counties, they have work release programs. This means that a driver can go to his regular job in the day time, and he has to sleep at the jail.

Wristlet Program

In some counties the jails will permit drivers to serve their time by home confinement. The driver will also have to wear a wristlet monitor. During the day the driver will have to perform community service by raking leaves, picking up garbage, and by performing other fun tasks.