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Does a drunk driving first offense implicate jail time?

According to a recent report, New Jersey’s laws against drunk driving may be less aggressive than other states. Specifically, the report noted that New Jersey is among only a few states where a first offense for driving under the influence does not mandatorily trigger minimum jail time. Administrative license suspensions are also rare in New Jersey. 

However, as a criminal defense attorney who has helped many clients respond to DUI charges, I know that police, judges and prosecutors can still be very aggressive. In the event of a conviction, a drunk driving record can make a big impact on an individual’s life. No one wants a criminal record, which can interfere with employment, housing and social opportunities. In addition, drunk driving convictions, depending on the nature of the offense and the individual’s previous history, may result in more serious punishments, including jail time, fines, elevated insurance rates, community service or alcohol education programs, and possibly even an ignition interlock device.

As an experienced DUI defense attorney, I know that the lack of a mandatory jail sentence for a first conviction may work to an accused’s advantage. Specifically, prosecutors may be more open to considering a plea bargain that is favorable to the defendant.

However, before pursuing a plea bargain, I work to challenge any test results and examine strategies for obtaining the dismissal of the drunk driving charges. In that regard, a careful examination of police procedures may reveal flaws that may render the evidence inadmissible. For example, there are requirements for a credible breath test, including a qualified operator to administer it, correct chemicals used in the machine, and other factors. Check out my firm’s webpage to learn more about DUI defense strategies.

Source:, "New Jersey goes easy on risky drivers, report finds,” Dino Flammia September 3, 2015

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Does a drunk driving first offense implicate jail time? | The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo