Recent changes to New Jersey’s DWI laws have eliminated driver’s license suspensions for many first offense drunk-driving convictions. New Jersey has also reduced the driver’s license suspension period for second, third and subsequent convictions. The new law, and update to NJSA 39:4-50, which took effect on December 1, 2019, and expires on January 1, 2024, dramatically changes the way New Jersey treats DWI convictions. While controversial in that critics argue the law reduces the deterrent effect of a prospective DUI, the law has the support of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (“MADD”), the state legislature, and was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy without significant opposition. Many legal observers and attorneys were surprised by this development, but the trend now is to enforce drunk driving mostly by the installation of ignition interlock devices instead of driver’s license suspensions. New DUI Penalties First Offense If you are convicted of a first-offense DUI under NJSA 39:4-50 and your blood alcohol content (“BAC”) is .08 to .10%, you only be subject to a driver’s license suspension until you prove that you have installed an ignition interlock device on the vehicle that you principally operate, own, or lease. The interlock must remain installed on your car for three (3) months. There still exists the $250 to $400 fine and the $1,000 a year MVC surcharge for three (3) years. You still must attend and complete the intoxicated driver’s resource center (“IDRC”) for twelve (12) hours served on two (2) consecutive days. For a first-offense NJ DWI conviction with a BAC of .10% or above, the fine is increased from the above to $300 to $500 and the interlock period to seven (7) to twelve (12) months. For a first-offense DUI conviction with a BAC of .15% or above, there will still be a mandatory license suspension of four (4) to six (6) months and still install the ignition interlock device. Indeed, interlock installation is now mandatory for all NJ driving while impaired or DWI convictions. You can still be sentenced to 30 days in jail for any first offense DWI conviction regardless of your BAC. The new law does not change the penalties for an NJ DUI conviction from drugs. A drug-based DUI conviction still carries a seven (7) to twelve (12) month driver’s license suspension. This applies to both prescribed drugs such as Xanax and painkillers and non-prescribed drugs such as heroin or even marijuana. Second Offense The new NJ law reduces the driver’s license suspension for second-offense DUI convictions from two (2) years, to now one (1) to two (2) years. The fine remains $500 to $1,000 and the mandatory two (2) to ninety (90) day jail sentence still applies. In some cases, it may be possible to serve the jail sentence for a second-offense DWI conviction in the IDRC rather than county jail. The mandatory thirty (30) day term of community service and 48 hour IDRC also still applies, along with the MVC monetary surcharge. Third or Subsequent Offense The penalties for a third, fourth, or even tenth DUI conviction are the same as before. These penalties apply to anyone convicted of a third or subsequent DWI and include a mandatory fine of $1,000; six (6 months) mandatory jail, and a now “reduced” term of license suspension of eight (8) years, down from what was previously ten (10) years. Not more than half of this sentence may be served in an NJ IDRC approved inpatient rehabilitation facility. This option is only available if made a part of your negotiated or judge determined sentence. Changes to NJ Refusal to Submit to Breath Testing Penalties under NJSA 39:4-50.2 and NJSA 39:4-50.4 The new DUI law also eliminates the driver’s license suspension for a first-offense conviction of refusing to provide breath samples. Instead, like a first-offense DUI conviction with a BAC under .15%, the new law provides for mandatory installation of the interlock device in lieu of a driver’s license suspension. For a second-offense DUI conviction, the penalties are the same as for a second-offense DUI under the new laws, expect that the jail and community service do not apply. The fines imposed for a first-offense refusal conviction are $300 to $500 (first offense), $500 to $1,000 (second-offense) and $1,000 (third or subsequent offense). Other Issues School-Zone DUI penalties under the new NJ DUI laws The new DUI law eliminates the enhanced penalties, and in fact the entire law against specifically driving while under influence of drugs or alcohol in a school zone under the old NJSA 39:50(g), which was repealed. The reasons behind this are unclear, but it is worth noting that the overwhelming majority of “school-zone” DUI charges occurred after school hours when schools were not in session and no children were present. The practical effect of the old school-zone DWI law in most cases merely enhanced the legal exposure of an individual accused of driving under the influence in urban, rather than suburban or rural areas. NJ Interlock installation, costs, and maintenance Interlock sales and installation are now big business thanks to the new DUI laws, which makes the installation of such devices now mandatory for all NJ DUI convictions. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (“MVC”) overseas the interlock program within the state. The interlock is a device that is installed into the vehicle’s ignition system that prevents the operator of the vehicle from starting the car until they blow into a tube connected to the device to establish that their BAC is under .05%. It is a criminal, disorderly persons offense to blow into another individual’s interlock device in order to allow them to operate the vehicle. The person convicted of the DUI is responsible for the costs of installing, maintaining, and calibrating the interlock device. The device can cost around $200 to install and must be “leased” from the interlock company. The monthly cost can run up to $100 a month to lease. Every two months, the device must be calibrated for an additional cost.Read More
Anthony J. Vecchio, Esq.
My Career Has Been Dedicated To The Practice Of Criminal Law.
I am passionate about providing personalized, thorough, and effective representation to individuals in crisis.
Throughout my time as a criminal defense attorney and personal injury lawyer in New Jersey, I have defended or prosecuted virtually every kind of case, many of which included charges that carried extensive time in prison and prolonged driver’s license suspensions.
I have taken hundreds of cases to trial, successfully had cases thrown out on pre-trial motions, and have handled complex investigations, litigation, and appeals on behalf of many clients over the course of my career. These have included drug offenses; property crimes such as theft, shoplifting, burglary and robbery; homicide; sexual assault; and DWI.
How Can We Help You?
Anthony was instrumental in making the worst time in my life manageable. He's smart, intuitive and most of all he gave me peace of mind. I would recommend him to anyone looking for a sharp, progressive attorney who knows how to navigate the law.- Alice
Mr. Vecchio represented my 19 year old son in traffic court and he also had a juvenile record expunged for my son. He made both situations stressless. Mr. Anthony Vecchio is not only hardworking and trustworthy, but he is very reliable and is someone who will fight his hardest for you.- Patricia
Anthony was excellent in getting my DUI reduced. I received a 1st offense DUI ticket and a second summons for a school zone. Basically I was looking at a 14-24 month suspension. With his help and expertise he was able to get the school zone dismissed and found a flaw in the 20 min observation period and was able to have the breathalizer reading dismissed as well. Reduced my license suspension down to 3 MONTHS!- Clayton
Mr. Vecchio was very thorough and efficient. His team was accommodating and the ultimate outcome was better than expected. Mr. Vecchio kept me up to date with every detail via emails and text messages. An all around good guy and family man.- Noel
When I went to court with Anthony, I was extremely anxious because I did not know what the gameplan was, what I needed to say, and I felt kind of unprepared on my end, but I quickly realized that Anthony had already taken care of all the loose ends and had a plan. He reduced my ticket from 5 points to ZERO points. I could have had my license suspended but with the help of Anthony, I can rest assured.- Anonymous
Mr. Vecchio is one of a kind. I was facing five summons including a DUI. I was prepared for the worst. Thanks to Anthony's comprehensive knowledge, outstanding negotiating skills, attention to details, and winning personality, I received a 3 month suspension, which was a God send. He is an amazing attorney and will fight for you!- Susan
5 Convenient Locations in Central New Jersey
All locations by appointment only.
Recent Blog Posts
Browse through our blog for information on criminal defense and personal injury laws in New Jersey.
Have you been charged with a simple assault in New Jersey? When emotions heat up, simple assault can follow. Simple assault often occurs in episodes of domestic violence, when arguing with neighbors, or in instances of public intoxication. If you have been charged with simple assault, you know that there’s nothing simple about beating this charge. You need to understand New Jersey criminal law and develop a legal strategy to defend against a simple assault charge. An experienced simple assault NJ criminal lawyer can help with your defense strategy. Here are a few things you should know about how to beat a simple assault charge in New Jersey: What is a simple assault in New Jersey? What is the punishment for simple assault in NJ? What are the defenses to simple assault? What is a Simple Assault in New Jersey? Simple assault in NJ occurs when a person (N.J.S.A . 2C:12‑1): Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. This law means that you don’t even have to touch a person to get into legal trouble. If you threaten someone or cause them to fear serious bodily injury, you can be charged with assault. Note that simple assault involves threatening serious bodily injury or attempting/causing bodily injury. So what’s the difference between serious bodily injury and bodily injury? The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice ( Definitions, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1) defines the two categories: Bodily injury means “physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition.” Serious bodily injury is “bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” There’s another assault category, aggravated assault, that applies to behavior that escalates past simple assault. What Type of Charge is Simple Assault? New Jersey law classifies crimes as indictable crimes, disorderly persons offenses, and petty disorderly persons offenses. Simple assault is usually a disorderly persons offense. If both parties agreed to fight, the charge could be downgraded to a petty disorderly persons offense. A petty disorderly persons offense is the least serious New Jersey offense that carries a jail sentence. A disorderly persons offense penalty is up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1000 fine. A petty disorderly persons offense is up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. Even though simple assault charges do not carry lengthy jail time, they become part of your criminal record. Having a criminal record can affect housing and employment options, so it’s important to beat your simple assault charge. What are the Defenses to Simple Assault? A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you beat your simple assault charge. Defenses against a simple assault charge include: Dismiss as de minimus assault. Your attorney may argue that your simple assault was de minimis in nature. This legal term means trivial or lacking significance. The argument asserts that the assault was so inconsequential that the court should dismiss your case. Suppress the evidence. If the judge grants a motion to suppress evidence of your simple assault, this may eliminate proof that you are guilty. A judge may suppress evidence on grounds such as relevance and unfair prejudice. Reduce to a lesser charge. Your attorney might request a judge reduce your simple assault to a lesser charge, such as harassment. Downgrading to a municipal ordinance violation may reduce the penalties involved with your charge. Even if your simple assault defense attorney cannot beat your simple assault charge, your attorney can request a reduced penalty. For instance, your attorney may convince the judge to give you probation and a suspended sentence. Along with sentencing, the judge might impose a restraining order between the parties involved in the simple assault. Get Legal Advice on Your Simple Assault Charge A simple assault charge brings serious consequences. You could wind up in jail, pay a hefty fine, and carry a criminal record. You need expert legal advice to help you beat your simple assault charge. To learn how to beat a simple assault charge, call New Jersey criminal defense lawyer Anthony Vecchio. Anthony has defended thousands of New Jersey clients and offers expert legal strategy for your simple assault. Call Anthony for a free consultation and start building your defense against simple assault.Read More
A criminal record can impact your life long after you serve time or pay fines. In fact, a criminal record follows you wherever you go, affecting employment and housing opportunities. Because of the consequences of a criminal record, courts allow expungement in NJ of your records relating to an offense. Following NJ expungement law, the court seals your criminal record for an offense. This erases the offense from your record. Once you have an expunged offense, you no longer have to disclose that offense on employment or housing applications. Only certain crimes are eligible for expungement, and each state differs in how they apply expungements. So, how does New Jersey expungement law work? Qualifying for expungement in NJ depends on these factors: Were you convicted of a felony crime, misdemeanor, or municipal ordinance violation? What offenses have you been convicted of before? When did you complete your sentence? Have you been previously granted an expungement in NJ? Were You Convicted of a Felony Crime, Misdemeanor, or Municipal Ordinance Violation? In New Jersey expungement law, convictions of serious crimes cannot be expunged. These crimes include homicide, kidnapping, human trafficking, arson, sexual assault, terrorism, robbery, and false imprisonment. Convictions of a DUI or DWI also cannot be expunged. Other crimes, including misdemeanors and municipal ordinance violations, can be expunged. Whether a violation is expunged depends on factors like the number of crimes committed or previously expunged. Even if a judge dismisses your charges, your arrest record still exists. This record can cause problems with future employment. Anyone who runs a background check on you will see this arrest record. In order to clear your record, you must request an expungement of all records related to the dismissed charge. If your charges are dismissed, you should make an application to the court for automatic expungement. Once you request this expungement in NJ, the court must order automatic expungement of all records for that offense. If your attorney does not request expungement when your case is dismissed, you can file a later petition for expungement. What Offenses Have You Been Convicted of Before? When considering your New Jersey expungement, a judge will evaluate your entire criminal record, including previous expungements. A judge may factor in the type of crimes committed or expunged as well. You may not know how many times you have been arrested or convicted. If you are confused about these facts, an attorney can perform a criminal record search for you. Contact a New Jersey expungement attorney for help searching your criminal record. When Did You Complete Your Sentence? The waiting period for NJ expungement does not begin until you complete your sentence, including probation or payment of fines. This means that you don’t start counting the time period until expungement eligibility from the date of your conviction. You start counting when you complete all sentencing requirements for your case. You must wait a certain amount of time after completing your sentence before you can receive a New Jersey expungement. The waiting time required depends on the seriousness of your conviction. Dismissals require no waiting period. Dismissals, after completing a diversion program, require 6 months. Drug offenders under the age of 21 require 1 year. A municipal ordinance violation requires 2 years. A juvenile adjudication requires the shorter of 3 years or waiting period required for the offense if committed by an adult. A disorderly persons offense requires 5 years or 3 years “early pathway” expungement. A felony requires 6 years or 5 years “early pathway” expungement. Early pathway expungement refers to a law that allows earlier expungement if the expungement serves the public interest. In other words, the offender must demonstrate good character and a desire to participate in the community. In addition to early pathway expungement, Drug Court offers another expedited route to expungement. Offenders who complete Drug Court may have their entire criminal record expunged without waiting on the above time periods. Have You Been Previously Granted an Expungement? New Jersey offenders are eligible for more than one expungement, depending on the type of offense committed. New Jersey allows the following expungement maximums: Four petty/disorderly persons expungements if not convicted of a felony Three petty/disorderly persons expungements if convicted of a felony Unlimited number of disorderly persons convictions expunged if the applicant has no other disorderly persons convictions and all disorderly persons convictions were entered on the same day. Only one criminal offense can be expunged. There is an exception if all closely related criminal convictions are listed in a single judgment, and the applicant has no convictions for any other crime or offense. Even if you have been previously granted an expungement, you should ask the court to consider another expungement. Start Your New Jersey Expungement Today A criminal record is too damaging to your reputation to ignore. If you would like your criminal record erased, NJ expungement law may help. Once you have your record expunged, you can secure better housing and employment options. A New Jersey expungement attorney can help you formulate your best argument for expungement. Contact NJ expungement law expert Anthony Vecchio, an attorney who has defended thousands of clients, for a free consultation.Read More