Pennsylvania DUI Penalties Charts

Pennsylvania DUI Penalties

Below is our Pennsylvania DUI Penalties Charts. Contact Kardos, Rickles, Hand & Bidlingmaier if you have any questions.

Entire blog →

Comments Off on Pennsylvania DUI Penalties Charts

New Jersey DUI Penalties Charts

See Our New Jersey DUI Penalties Charts, below

NJ DUI Penalties

In New Jersey, one may receive a citation for driving under the influence (DUI) for operating a motor vehicle or boar with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater.

Mandatory fines and penalties

Entire blog →

Comments Off on New Jersey DUI Penalties Charts

New Jersey Supreme Court: Right to a Jury Trial

The Supreme Court of New Jersey in the case of State v. Denelsbeck, found that an individual charged with a third or subsequent DWI offense, in violation of NJSA 39:4-50, is not entitled to a jury trial, and defendant’s conviction via a bench trial did not violate his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial.

New Jersey Supreme Court rendered an opinion – regarding blood alcohol content and blood extraction.

The New Jersey Supreme Court has recently rendered an opinion on May 4, 2015, in the case of State v. Adkins.  The New Jersey Supreme Court decided the application of the United States Supreme Court case ofMissouri v. McNeely, 133 S.Ct. 1552, 185 L.Ed 2d 696 (2013),  to a case involving the extraction of blood for purposes of determining the blood alcohol content of an individual charged with Driving Under the Influence in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, while McNeely was pending.

The New Jersey Supreme Court found that cases in the pipeline while McNeely was being decided, must have the pronouncement on the Fourth Amendment requirements applied retroactively as set forth by the United States Supreme Court in McNeely.

NJ Supreme Court Rules PTI Not an Option After Trial

As reported by the the New Jersey Law Journal, New Jersey’s pretrial intervention (commonly known as PTI), designed to divert less serious criminal cases from prosecution, is not available after charges have been tried and guilty verdicts are returned, the state Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

PTI is not now and never has been a sentencing alternative, and admitting an otherwise deserving defendant after a verdict frustrates the goals of early diversion, early rehabilitation and avoidance of the stigma of a criminal conviction, the justices said in State v. Bell.

They agreed with an appeals court that found a trial judge erred in allowing Sean Bell to enter the program after a charge of second-degree aggravated assault, which would have precluded his admission, was dismissed but also after a jury found him guilty of third-degree aggravated assault.

At Bell’s high school graduation party in June 2006, he and Thomas Schwab punched and kicked another guest, Michael Higgins, knocking him unconscious. Schwab and Bell were charged with the same offenses but Schwab was granted admission to PTI in consideration for testifying against Bell.

Bell did not apply for PTI until after his trial, despite the requirement of R. 3:28(h) that applications be made  within 28 days of indictment.

Overruling the prosecutor’s rejection, Ocean County Superior Court Judge Wendel Daniels found Bell entitled to PTI. He said Bell and Schwab were similarly situated and the prosecutor’s decision to deny Bell PTI was a clear error of judgment.

Daniels relied on State v. Halm, 319 N.J. Super 569 (App. Div. 1999), where the defendant was charged with first, second and third degree offenses in connection with a sexual assault. His timely application for PTI was rejected by the court staff and the prosecutor. After he was convicted only of third-degree cocaine possession, he moved for reconsideration. The motion judge said no but the Appellate Division reversed.

In Bell’s case, the Appellate Division distinguished Halm because Bell did not make a timely PTI application.

The Supreme Court agreed in a 6-0 ruling, saying, “Whether pre-indictment or post-indictment, an accused must apply for admission to PTI prior to trial.”

Judge Mary Catherine Cuff, writing for the court, said it was “of no moment” that a jury found the defendant not guilty of first- or second-degree crimes that might have barred his path to PTI.

She said the goals of PTI, first established by statute in 1979, “have been completely frustrated” by Bell’s admission to PTI, nearly four years from the date of the altercation that gave rise to the charges.

PTI admission in this case “not only thwarts the purpose of this particular diversionary program because the defendant has been found guilty of a criminal offense but also nullifies a valid verdict of guilt.

“We know of no authority that permits a court to nullify a valid verdict through the device of a belated application to a diversionary program,” she said.

Assistant Public Defender Dale Jones, whose office represented Bell,  called it “troubling” that he will receive a harsher sentence than his codefendant, absent any distinctions between the criminal acts of the two.

“People who commit the same offense ought to be treated the same way,” Jones said. “A decision like this kind of makes it, who’s got the best lawyer and who wins the race to the prosecutor’s office.”

Supervising Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Samuel Marzarella said court’s decision, and its decision not to apply the Halm case, reaffirm the time restrictions on applying for PTI in the face of defense counsel’s arguments.

NJ Appeals Court Affirms Suppression of Contraband – Not Enough Evidence to Support Detaining Vehicle or K-9 Search

As reported by NJ.com, a New Jersey state appeals court has ruled that heroin found after a motor vehicle stop in June 2011 cannot be used as evidence against a North Plainfield man because police improperly detained the vehicle and used a drug-sniffing dog.

Appellate judges upheld a lower court’s ruling that there was an “insufficient legal basis” for a Warren Township Police Officer’s request to the Defendant for consent to search the vehicle or the use of the K-9 unit, according to the decision issued on Friday.

The “dog sniff” occurred nearly an hour or more after the initial stop, the decision states.  The Defendant’s employer owned the vehicle and later consented to a search, at which time police found six bricks of heroin in the glove compartment, the decision states.

“(The Officer’s) hunch was correct, but it was nothing more than a hunch and, consequently, insufficient to warrant a request to search or a dog sniff not concurrent with the stop,” the decision states.

The appellate decision rejected the state’s appeal of the July 2013 ruling to suppress the heroin as evidence. The Defendant, 38, has been charged with possession of heroin with the intent to distribute.

He was stopped on June 10, 2011 for driving with excessively tinted windows, the decision states. The Officer learned that Defendant’s driver’s license was suspended, and he was unable to produce a current insurance card for the vehicle, the decision states.

Ferreiro suspected criminal activity due to “’(the Defendant’s) extreme and unusual nervousness,’ the fact that his ‘stories were a little different,’ and the tobacco shavings” seen in the vehicle, the decision states. After the Defendant refused to consent to a search of the vehicle, Ferreiro called in the K-9 unit, the decision states.

But in the initial ruling, Superior Court Judge John Pursel found that “there were insufficient facts to support a reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity,” the decision states.

“The employer’s consent to search was prompted by the improper dog sniff and cannot cure the constitutional violations that led up to it,” the decision states.

Appellate Court Tosses Evidence in DUI Arrest of Princeton University Student

As reported by Christopher Baxter for NJ.Com, on Wednesday, December 18, 2013, a three-Judge panel of the state’s Appellate Division suppressed evidence of an October 2010 arrest of a Princeton University Student charged with driving under the influence. The opining Appellate Judge held that the actions taken by police officers at the scene do not fall under the purview of the community caretaking doctrine nor do they constitute constitutionally permissible investigative techniques.

The arrest occurred in the early hours of Sunday Morning, October 3, 2010, after a Princeton Borough Police Officer  responded to a report that a large crowd of student customers were gathering at the University Place WaWa. While the Officer stood in front of the store, the Student pulled into the parking space directly in front of the Officer. The Student’s passenger then exited the automobile and quickly entered the store while the Student remained in the vehicle.

The Officer alleged the Student looked groggy and appeared to be falling asleep behind the steering wheel with the engine running. The Officer then approached the vehicle, opened the door to speak to the Student, and began asking the him questions. He smelled alcohol, records show, performed sobriety tests and eventually charged the Student with drunken driving.

But the Appellate Division described the Officer’s act of opening the car door without making an attempt to talk to him or investigate further as legally improper.

“Seeing a young man, who may or may not be a student at Princeton, legally drive his vehicle into a parking space outside a convenience store in the early morning hours on a Sunday, and while parked, put his head down and close his eyes, does not give a police officer legal grounds to open the young man’s car door,” Judge Jose Fuentes wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.

The case centered on a emerging legal theory called the “community-caretaking doctrine,” which allows police officers to take certain actions without a warrant if someone is in need of help or if property is in immediate danger.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, arguing on behalf of the Officer, said he opened the door not because he was investigating a drunken driving incident but because he was concerned about the Student’s well being. Only afterward, they argued, did the Officer undertake a formal investigation.

A Princeton Municipal Court Judge suppressed the evidence of the Student’s intoxication, finding the Officer had no legal basis to open the car door and had overstepped his authority. The state Superior Court overturned the ruling and allowed the evidence.

But the Appellate Division reversed, finding no reason to believe that the Officer approached the vehicle out of concern for the Student but only because he thought he was drunk. The judges found the Officer had no probable cause to open the car door.

Judge Fuentes said in the decision that the Officer should have “knocked on the defendant’s car window and engaged in a conversation with him to determine whether he had alcohol on his breath or was otherwise too tired or sleepy to drive safely.”

“Based on the outcome of these preliminary and limited interactions, (the Officer) could have asked defendant to produce his driving credentials or even step out of the car to see if he was unsteady on his feet,” Fuentes wrote.

He added, “The state cannot invoke the community-caretaking doctrine to convert an unconstitutional investigatory act … into a benign attempt to verify defendant’s health status.”

The Student’s attorney said his client was a “good kid who just had a bad night that night.”

“I’m really gratified that the Appellate Division dealt with very complex but cutting edge legal issues, constitutional issues and came out with a decision favorable to my client,” the attorney said.

He added he did not believe the state would be able to successfully prosecute the charges without the evidence.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office declined comment on the ruling, but said it was under review for possible appeal.

Know Your Options in a New Jersey DUI

A DUI is a serious charge, but not an incontestable one. If you are charged with a DUI in New Jersey, you should not try to handle the case yourself. Criminal defense attorneys in Trenton can help challenge the process of your arrest and the testing of your blood alcohol level. Irregularities in these procedures could mean that your DUI may not hold up in court.

DUI and You

In New Jersey, a DUI is driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or above, regardless of whether your driving is actually impaired. This often means that the entire case against a DUI driver rests on the testing of blood alcohol level. Consent to submit to this test is automatic if you are driving a car; if you refuse a blood alcohol test, your license will be automatically suspended. On the other hand, the police are expected to test blood alcohol as close as possible to the time of driving. This means that they rely heavily on the Breathalyzer test, a means of testing blood alcohol level through the breath.

Breathalyzer tests are far from foolproof. The machine calculates blood alcohol level using a standard set of measures for how much alcohol transfers to a person’s breath relative to the amount in their blood. However, this measure is far from standard, and varies from person to person. It is therefore possible in some cases to argue for the inaccuracy of the test itself. Blood tests, which are much more accurate, are often not administered in time to prove with certainty that a driver was over the limit at the time of driving.

There are additional grounds on which a DUI can be challenged, including the right of the police to stop the car in the first place, since they are not permitted to pull cars over without cause. What all of these arguments have in common, however, is that they are not ones an individual can successfully make without the assistance of an experienced DUI defense attorney.

Fight your DUI in court

The penalties for a DUI are high. Even for a first offense, you may lose your license for up to a year. Fines may add up to thousands of dollars. For a repeat offense, lengthy license suspensions, increased fines and even jail time result. The criminal defense lawyers of Kardos, Rickles, Hand & Bidlingmaier are experienced in fighting for their clients’ licenses. Contact us today for a consultation.