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In New Jersey, the Penalties Escalate for Subsequent DUI Offenses


Interviewer: If you’re convicted once for DUI, doesn’t that set you up for even worse penalties and problems if you ever get arrested again for DUI?

James Abate: Yes, it does.  The next time it’s a two year suspension, and the second suspension leads to the third suspension, which is ten years.  A lot of times, people plead guilty to the first offense, just because they think it’s the easy way to go.  Then the second time, they think that they have figured out how to handle the legal process.  They refuse to take the test.

They make things even worse.  They might not have even been guilty, and they end up then with a two year suspension that they really can’t fight. They refused the test because they’ve never had legal counseling on how to handle a DUI case.

Many New Jersey Drivers Regret Pleading Guilty and Not Defending Their First Offense DUI

Interviewer: Do you encounter clients that have had a first DUI conviction and now they’re in trouble and they need your help, and they feel bad about having plead guilty to the first?

James Abate: Yeah, I would say almost every second offense I see, we end up going back to review how the first offense was handled.  We find legal problems, which we can then use to essentially undo the first conviction.  Then we improve their chances defending the second case.

In Some Cases, Your Attorney May Be Able to Have the First Offense Dismissed to Avoid the Escalating Penalties of a Second DUI

In some cases, we can get a court order from the first judge that the repercussions that are going to be faced on the second offense or subsequent offense will be treated as if it were a first offense.  In some cases, we’re able to get the first case dismissed completely so that on the second offense they’re really facing a first offense.

Interviewer:  I wasn’t aware that could be done.

James Abate: It comes under a case called State v. Laurick.  It is becoming incredibly useful, especially now, as mandatory interlock requirements become more prevalent.  We can go back and it may be possible to cast some question on the way the first case was handled.

It can simply be whether or not the judge gave you a warning that if you get arrested again you could have a mandatory interlock requirement. That failure could prevent the second judge from requiring you to install the interlock, which is one of the newer and more serious consequences.

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