The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo
Phone: 908-316-8671

Cranford New Jersey Criminal Defense Blog

Are designated drivers a safe option?

When you climb into the car with a designated driver, you may feel as though you are choosing a safe option, as opposed to driving while intoxicated. What many people may not consider, however, is that the designated driver may not be completely sober. Designated drivers usually travel with their friends and enjoy a night out, with the understanding that they will not drink alcohol and provide a safe ride home for their friends. Studies show that these drivers may actually have a drink or two before getting behind the wheel.

A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reported that up to 40% of designated drivers drank alcohol before driving their friends home. Approximately 18% of these drivers had a blood alcohol content level of 0.05% or higher, which is close to the legal limit of 0.08%. In some states, drivers who have a BAC level of 0.05 may be arrested, as they could be unsafe to drive.

Penalties for New Jersey’s repeat DWI offenders

While any conviction for driving while intoxicated in New Jersey can bring with it fines, possible jail time and other repercussions, the state reserves its harshest penalties for its repeat DWI offenders. At the Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo, we recognize that the penalties associated with repeat DWIs have the potential to upend many aspects of your life, and we have helped many people facing repeat DWI charges defend themselves appropriately.

According to NJ.gov, even the state’s first-time DWI offenders face up to 30 days behind bars, hundreds of dollars in fines, license suspensions, substance abuse treatment requirements and a sharp increase in their automotive insurance rates. As you can imagine, though, these penalties become increasingly harsh with each subsequent DWI conviction, and they are also typically more substantial for offenders who were in school zones or school crosswalks at the time of their offense.

Marijuana is still illegal, despite shifting perceptions

Opinions about marijuana have undergone a serious change in recent years, as evidenced by changes to the laws in places like Michigan and Colorado. Marijuana is not as freely legal as other substances, but it is legal in certain amounts and with government control and regulation.

However, it is important to remember that it is still illegal in New Jersey. Many people have started to think that it's not as important to follow these laws since they're changing in other states. It has led to a more relaxed attitude. But, for college students in New Jersey, an arrest could lead to:

  • Jail time
  • Fines
  • Loss of financial aid
  • A permanent criminal record
  • Possible expulsion from school
  • Difficulty finding a job
  • Trouble getting into specific programs at school

Can your criminal record be expunged?

If you have been convicted of a crime in Cranford, you certainly do not want the consequences to linger any longer than the completion of whatever fines or sentence you are forced to face. Yet having the information regarding your criminal activity on your public record can hinder your chances to completely move on with your life once you have satisfied the demands that came with your conviction. Therefore, seeking to have your criminal record expunged is definitely something you will want to look into. 

Yet is such a benefit possible? According to Section 52-2 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, you can seek an expungement if your case qualifies. To be eligible, you must not have been convicted of any other criminal offense either within the state or in another jurisdiction. The only exception to this would be a disorderly persons offense. You can apply for expungement provided you have no more than two such offenses on your record since the completion of the sentence tied to your conviction. 

How much can a New Jersey DWI raise your auto insurance rates?

When you face a New Jersey driving while intoxicated charge that ultimately results in a conviction, you can anticipate that your bank account will take a serious hit in the aftermath. While you can plan on having to pay fines, fees and other expenses relating to your arrest, which can add up fast, you are likely to also face additional expenses once you try to get your driver’s license back.

For example, Insure.com reports that all Americans, regardless of where they reside geographically, should anticipate that they will have to pay significantly more for automotive insurance coverage after a DWI conviction. Just how much you can expect your insurance rates to increase, however, will depend on circumstances, although, nationally, first-time drunk drivers typically see their insurance rates shoot up anywhere between 28 and 371 percent.

What are driver programs?

In New Jersey, motorists who are charged with traffic violations may be ordered to take a driver program depending on the number and severity of the charges. These programs are used to provide instructions on proper driving, while also emphasizing the importance of adhering to traffic laws. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission offers the following information of driver programs.

Defensive driving classes

Understanding under-ringing

Shopping in Cranford often seems to bring out many of our most primitive instincts. Chief among these is the desire to "hunt" for the best deals. Oftentimes, the best retail deals might come through your own personal connections. If, for example, you have a friend or acquaintance that works for a retailer, you might be able to leverage that relationship to save money off a purchase. Unfortunately, as some of those with whom we here at The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo have worked with can attest to, some of these supposed deals can be too good to be true. 

Section 20-11 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice lists under-ringing as an element of shoplifting. In this particular context, "under-ringing" is defined as "to cause the cash register or other sale recording device to reflect less than the full retail value of the merchandise." It may be well known that a sales associate has the power to override a listed sales price when completing a transaction. The question is when is it lawful for them to do so? 

It’s important to understand how DUI checkpoints work

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a mistake on many fronts, including the fact that it increases the risk of an accident and can result in your arrest and subsequent penalties. If you make this mistake and find yourself driving into a DUI checkpoint, it's important to understand what will happen.

Police set up DUI checkpoints as a way to stop a large number of vehicles in a short period of time. This gives them the opportunity to personally check every vehicle for drunk drivers, as well as those who may be violating other laws.

Exploring the accuracy of breath test devices

When motorists are pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving, law enforcement officers may ask them to take a breath test. Roadside breath test devices are used to measure a driver’s blood alcohol content level and determine whether it is over the legal limit of 0.08. The problem stems from the fact that many roadside breath test devices yield inaccurate results when compared to the blood alcohol level readings obtained from an actual blood sample. According to the State University of New York at Potsdam, breath test results obtained from a roadside device may vary by at least 15 percent from the readings of an actual blood test. Furthermore, at least one in four people tested will have inflated breath test readings. This could lead to a wrongful DUI arrest and potentially false conviction.

There are several factors that contribute to the inaccurate readings obtained through a breath test device. Some of the following can influence readings and cause them to be higher than normal:

  •          The relative humidity and temperature of the air
  •          Cigarette smoke, gas fumes and pollution
  •          Electrical interference from cellphones or officers’ radios
  •          Residual food, drink, blood or vomit in a person’s mouth

Plea bargaining requirements in New Jersey

The common perception of criminal law cases is typically that of a team of prosecutors and defense squaring off against each other in the tense courtroom setting. Yet oftentimes in criminal proceedings in Cranford, the unique circumstances of one's case may make it advantageous to consider plea bargaining. Indeed, information shared by the Bureau of Justice Assistance estimates that 90-95 percent of both federal and state court cases are resolved with a guilty plea. Yet simply because this appears to the norm in criminal matters does not mean that the process does not have its complexities. 

One might wonder why plea bargaining seems to be such a common practice. Prosecutors may have incentives to offer defendants deals in an effort to avoid having to dedicate extensive resources into cases that might otherwise be resolved in a much faster manner. There are still, however protocols that must be followed with each plea bargain case. Per the New Jersey Court Rules, the following five criteria must be met in order for the court to consider a plea bargain: 

  • The case must be prosecuted by a municipal prosecutor, or county prosecutor or the Attorney General
  • A defendant must either be represented by counsel or have waived their right to such a privilege
  • The prosecutor must confirm to the court that the defendant has been consulted with regarding the plea
  • It must be on record that the matter being pled to is within the jurisdiction of the municipal court and does not downgrade any offenses faced at the county level (without consent from the county prosecutor)
  • The recommended sentence is not less than the mandatory requirements for the offense being pled to

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Cranford New Jersey Criminal Defense Blog | The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo