Seasoned Mount Laurel DWI Accident Defense Lawyers
Drunk or drugged driving can result in accidents with grave injuries or death. That’s because drugs or alcohol impair your judgment, reflexes, and coordination, thus affecting your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. The laws forbidding impaired driving protect people and property on the road with steep penalties as deterrents to would-be intoxicated drivers. So, when DWI charges follow an accident and potential injury, you will need an expert legal defense to avoid conviction for a criminal offense and a DWI charge.
When you call upon the skilled team of defense lawyers at Proetta, Oliver & Fay, you find a group of dedicated attorneys with exceptional criminal and DWI trial experience. Our team includes a New Jersey Deputy Attorney General, trained and certified Alcotest operators, certified and recognized field sobriety testing instructors, and decades of combined experience defending clients in courts in Burlington County and throughout New Jersey. If you were arrested and charged in connection with a DWI with an accident in Florence, Mount Holly, Cinnaminson, Evesham, Medford, Maple Shade, Burlington Township, or surrounding towns, call us for a free consultation and get the defense help you need. Call 609-850-8284 to talk about your DUI with an accident in Southern New Jersey, get answers to your questions, and explore the many ways we can potentially defend your case throughout the process.
The Effects of Being in an Accident while Driving under the Influence in New Jersey
A DWI conviction can change your life for the worse. Depending on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) after arrest and your DWI history, you could spend time in jail, lose driving privileges, and pay substantial fines, fees, and penalties. However, an injury accident brings your quasi-criminal traffic violation to a new level. Your case could become a superior court case in the county where your arrest occurred. The county prosecutor decides whether the injuries and actions in the case warrant indictable criminal charges in the superior court or a disposition in municipal court for the traffic violation.
What if No One was Injured by a Drunk Driving Accident?
In the case of a non-injury accident, the prosecutor is more likely to keep the action in municipal court. Nonetheless, the accident has a bearing on the outcome of a DWI case. If the municipal court prosecutor convinces a judge to convict you of a DWI or DWI Refusaloffense, the municipal court judge may consider even a non-injury accident in sentencing. Just as in superior court, municipal court judges choose from a range of penalties to sentence a guilty defendant. Their decision may rest on whether there were aggravating factors.
Judges consider an accident while driving intoxicated by drugs or alcohol that results even in property damage, an aggravating factor. Thus, a municipal court judge may use their discretion to punish a defendant more than the minimum. For example, a judge may increase the length of a license suspension or jail term. For a second DWI, a judge can sentence you to up to 90 days in jail. They may punish you with the maximum length possible, especially if this is not your first DWI and you caused an accident.
DUI Accident Resulting in Injuries
At the superior court level, your possible sentence increases significantly. The prosecutor may file Assault by Auto charges against you if any type of injury results from a DUI-related accident. This is a third degree crime if it results in serious bodily injury. A third-degree criminal sentence includes 3 to 5 years of prison time and a potential $15,000.00 fine. Assault by Auto arising from a DWI accident is a fourth degree crime when any bodily injury occurs. Your sentence for a fourth-degree criminal conviction ranges up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.
In specific cases involving drunk driving accidents in school zones, the degree of the charges and penalties worsen. If you violated the DWI law in a school crossing area or zone, your criminal assault by auto charge elevates to a second degree crime if the accident causes serious bodily injury. A conviction means anywhere from 5 to 10 years in prison and a possible $150,000.00 fine. However, it is a third-degree crime when bodily injury occurs for a school zone violation.
The difference between bodily injury and serious bodily injury is a matter of degree. Bodily injury includes illness, physical pain, or impairment. An example may be a broken leg, cuts, bruises, soft tissue injury, sprains, and tinnitus from a concussion. On the other hand, serious bodily injury endangers a person’s life or permanently injures them. It includes long-term impairment or bodily function loss, such as blindness, paraplegia, brain damage, or kidney loss due to an accident.
What if Someone Dies in a DWI-Related Accident?
Another possible charge arising from a DWI and accident is vehicular homicide. The prosecutor will likely charge you with second degree vehicular homicide or manslaughter when someone dies in an accident resulting from a DWI. A conviction results from proof that you recklessly drove a motor vehicle that caused the death. Recklessness includes intoxicated driving, among other acts interpreted as callously disregarding the likelihood of another’s injury or death.
Reckless driving may involve more than intoxicated driving to raise the crime grade level. For instance, when a driver is drunk, speeds, weaves in and out of traffic, and makes illegal lane changes that result in a fatal accident, they may face second degree charges carrying 5 to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $150,000.00. Also, if they drove recklessly in a school zone that led to someone’s death, vehicular homicide elevates to first degree criminal charges. A first-degree criminal conviction carries a potential prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of $200,000.00.
When to Consult a Defense Lawyer in Mount Holly and Burlington County NJ
Facing such grave possibilities, you should get advice from a qualified DWI and criminal attorney who can defend you in municipal court or superior court for the DWI and any resulting criminal charges. Though the judge may consider an accident aggravating facts to justify a harsher sentence, a good defense lawyer can persuade the judge not to do so. A seasoned attorney can also request a civil reservation when you plead guilty to a DWI, traffic, or criminal violation in either the municipal or superior court where your case is being handled.
The civil reservation protects you against an injured victim using your guilty pleas against you in a civil personal injury lawsuit. With a civil reservation on file in the DWI or criminal case, a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit cannot use your guilty plea as proof of liability. The reservation prevents them from claiming that your guilt in the criminal or DUI case is an admission of guilt for causing their injuries and resulting damages in the civil suit.
Importantly, an attorney can raise doubts in a judge’s or jury’s mind as to your guilt in committing the offense(s) that led to your arrest and prosecution. Since the prosecutor’s job is to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, your attorney can cause decision-makers to doubt the results of a breathalyzer test, the cause of the accident, or whether negligence or recklessness caused the accident, for example. They can even convince the court to dismiss your DWI charges if the police stopped you illegally. If the initial prompting of you being pulled over is illegal, all the evidence the police gathered following the stop is likely unlawful as well. Hire a top-notch DWI and criminal defense attorney to help you avoid conviction or reduce your possible sentence. There’s too much at stake to try to go it alone in the justice system.
Contact our Law Firm in Evesham
Getting into an accident is bad enough, but adding a DWI to the equation, and things can quickly turn catastrophic. When you or a loved one is facing charges arising from a driving while intoxicated accident in Moorestown, Marlton, Riverside, Delanco, Bordentown, Palmyra, Pemberton, or another Burlington County town, contact our law firm with local offices in Evesham Township to get the advice and trusted legal insight to begin your defense today. Call 609-850-8284 or set up a free consultation online without delay.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. We have four office locations conveniently located in Jersey City, Edison, Middletown, Cranford, Burlington, and Hamilton. All major credit cards are accepted.
525 Highway 73, Suite 104, Marlton, New Jersey 08053 Phone: 609-850-8284 By Appointment Only
100 Horizon Center Boulevard, Hamilton, New Jersey, 08691 By Appointment Only
Point Pleasant Office
3828 River Road,
Suite A, Point Pleasant,
New Jersey 08742
By Appointment Only
180 Kings Highway, Middletown Township, New Jersey 07748 By Appointment Only