Multiple DWIs? You Need to Know about Step-Down Provisions
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Mon Nov 2017
Have you heard about New Jersey’s step-down provisions as they apply to DWI cases? For some, it might seem like a source of relief. If you live in New Jersey and are facing a second or third DWI conviction, you have reason to be worried. After all, you already know the inconvenience and expense you went through the first time.
All things considered, what you are experiencing is a perfectly natural feeling given the state’s increasingly harsh and restrictive penalties for driving under the influence. However, you may feel a bit of weight off shoulders when you read about step-down provisions.
As you already know, the penalties for any DWI offense will undoubtedly include hefty fines and temporary loss of driving privileges. By the same token, repeat offenders should also be concerned with the prospect of jail time and even permanent license revocation.
Add to that one other consideration. The severity of the first offense is contingent upon the driver’s blood-alcohol level. Consequently, tougher sentences were already handed down for drivers with blood-alcohol levels of .10 or higher. So, what happens to repeat offenders?
What the Step-Down Provision Means to You
In the first place, it’s crucial to understand who may be affected by New Jersey’s step-down provisions. The law applies to drivers who have had ten years or more between DWI convictions. Step-down provisions are specifically addressed at NJSA 39:4-50(a)(3) and are used to guide the municipal judge when considering sentencing for drunk driving offenses. Here are some things you can take from this portion of the law:
- Second DWI offense: If it occurs more than ten years after the first, the court must impose the sentence for a first offense.
- Third Driving While Intoxicated offense: If it transpires more than a decade after the second, you could get a bit of a break. It is then treated as a second offense. Specifically, the Court must treat the defendant as though he has one less prior conviction when calculating the sentence for the most recent DWI.
Meanwhile, you should know that these same provisions apply if you have decided to refuse to take a breathalyzer test after being pulled over. While these rules may help in certain circumstances, an attorney with experience in defending DWI charges can explain them in more detail.
Experienced Legal Help When Faced with DWI Charges
Without question, you already know that a DWI conviction can seriously derail your life. More than likely, you will be concerned about the penalties you are now facing. Whether you feel you’re being justly charged or not, you need experienced legal representation. Otherwise, you could seriously compromise your ability to work, get around and provide for your family.
If you’re facing a DWI conviction in New Jersey, whether it’s your first second, or third, you can’t afford to leave anything to chance. The attorneys at Beninato and Matrafajlo will help you fight to minimize penalty. Contact us today to learn what penalties you may be facing if convicted. We look forward to providing you with experienced legal advice.