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Penalties faced by DUI defendants

Someone who has been accused of DUI in New Jersey may face a variety of penalties, including license suspension and imprisonment. The precise penalties the accused can expect to face typically vary with respect to the individual circumstances of the case. A defendant's history of past DUI offenses, where he or she was driving at the time of being taken into custody and how the initial investigation was conducted can all play a substantial role in penalty imposition.

For example, a DUI charge is considered aggravated if it occurs within a school zone. Whereas DUI Third Offense outside a school zone can result in a license suspension of up to 10 years, the period of suspension is doubled for the same offense if it occurs in a school zone. Similarly, someone accused of refusing to submit to chemical testing may expect to face more severe penalties if they do so in a school zone.

In general, the penalties for DUI charges increase in severity with each subsequent conviction. Whereas a first offense can cause one's license to be suspended for anywhere from three months to one year, the second offense may result in a suspended license for up to two years and the third offense up to 10 years. In addition, the duration of imprisonment tends to increase with each conviction.

While state law dictates that someone is driving while intoxicated if they are found to be operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or higher, an officer's observations of alleged behavior may also be sufficient to charge someone with DUI in some cases. These and other forms of evidence typically used against DUI defendants can sometimes be challenged on the basis of their credibility and reliability. An attorney may be able to advocate on a defendant's behalf in this regard and seek to have the charges against him or her dismissed or reduced.

Source: The State of New Jersey, "NJ Facts: driving under the influence (DUI) + point system", October 11, 2014

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