Whether an arrest for a third or subsequent DWI offense arises in Bloomfield, Newark, or any other town in Essex County, the penalties that an individual faces if convicted are the same. There is a whopping ten (10) year license suspension and, worse yet, a mandatory jail term of 180 days. And none of this can be avoided through plea bargaining since this practice is absolutely banned in New Jersey DWI cases. This begs the question — what then can be done if you are facing a third or subsequent violation for driving while intoxicated in Essex County NJ. The answer is that quite a bit can often be accomplished provided you do your research and select a defense attorney who is both highly experienced in handling third offense cases and is willing to commit the time and effort that is necessary to insure that you have the very best opportunity for avoiding these significant penalties.
A primary reason why higher level knowledge is required, in our view, in these cases is not only because the stakes are so high, but also since defending these charges are much more complex. Indeed, when someone is facing a third or subsequent charge for DWI, one of the most effective methods for avoiding jail, etc., is to attack not only the case pending but the prior ones as well. Was the client represented by counsel in the prior case(s)? Did the court thoroughly instruct the client when the plea was taken irrespective of whether he/she had an attorney? What was the status of the law in terms of enhancement at the time of the plea or finding of guilt? These are but a few of the questions that need to be dealt with and the answers often result in what are termed post-conviction relief motions being filed in one or more of the municipal courts where the client was previously convicted. These motions may seek to reopen and set aside a prior conviction altogether or simply ask the court to modify the judgment/order of conviction so is limited in some manner (e.g. only used of penalties outside of jail). Coming up with creative and properly presented arguments in the prior courts can often mean the difference between 6 months in jail and none, but many attorneys are simply unwilling or unable to undertake this course of action effectively. On top of the collateral attack of the prior convictions, the third offense lawyer needs to actively defend the pending charge, poking holes anywhere he/she can to avoid a conviction.
The point of all of this is that third offenses are complicated and, in our judgment, should only be left for the highly experienced if you want to have the best opportunity for avoiding jail and other penalties. Do your home work and please do not hesitate to give us a call if you would like to speak for a DWI defense lawyer at our firm about your third or subsequent dwi offense.