New Jersey court dismisses DUI charges due to trial delays
A man facing charges for driving under the influence of alcohol in New Jersey had his case dismissed because he did not receive a speedy trial, NBC reported recently.
The man was charged with DUI after swerving into a police car and injuring an officer in 2007. Although the driver pleaded guilty to assault by auto and spent a year on probation, his DUI charge was referred to municipal court, where 16 months passed before a trial date was set.
The constitutional guarantee to a speedy trial
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial for those facing criminal charges. This means that a person charged with a crime in the U.S. must be brought to trial reasonably quickly after his or her arrest. The Sixth Amendment also guarantees that those facing criminal charges have a right to have the charges tried before a jury, and that the charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
In the New Jersey DUI case, the court found that 16 months was too long to wait for trial and voted unanimously to dismiss the charges. The New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the decision to dismiss in a ruling issued April 1, NBC reported.
Consequences of DUI conviction in New Jersey
In New Jersey, the law provides that anyone who operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or above is considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol. New Jersey drivers can also be charged with DUI for driving under the influence of drugs, or for operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Even for a first-time offense, the penalties for DUI conviction in New Jersey can be steep. The penalties can be even more severe for those convicted of driving with a BAC of 0.10 or above, as well as for those with multiple DUI convictions.
New Jersey drivers convicted of a first-time DUI can be fined hundreds of dollars and may be sentenced to as much as one year in prison. In addition, convicted individuals can lose their driver’s licenses for at least three months and as much as one year for a first offense, depending on the circumstances. After the reinstatement of driving privileges, people convicted of DUI in New Jersey will also be required to pay a surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years.
People convicted of multiple DUI offenses within a 10-year period face even higher penalties under New Jersey law. For example, a third-time offender may face the loss of his or her driver’s license for 10 years and can be imprisoned for up to 180 days. The monetary fines for DUI conviction also increase substantially for repeat offenders.
Along with fines, imprisonment and license suspension, drivers convicted of DUI in New Jersey may be required to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they own or operate.
Contact an attorney
If you or a loved one has been arrested on suspicion of DUI in New Jersey, it is important to seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney before making a statement or talking to investigators. A lawyer with experience defending against DUI charges will help you protect your rights and will work hard on your behalf to minimize the negative consequences of the arrest.