What You Should Know About the Right to Counsel
Summary: When you’ve been arrested for a DUI, DWI or a similar crime, understanding your right to counsel may help you when the time comes to mount your defense.
When you’ve been charged with a DWI, you have the right to obtain legal counsel to help with the representation of your case. In 2017, around 71 percent of people who were charged with a DWI in New Jersey were eventually found guilty, which means that a substantial 29 percent were found innocent or had their cases dismissed. Making use of legal counsel after you’ve been charged with a DWI can help you identify how to challenge the charges that have been filed against you.
What to Expect During a Routine Traffic Stop
To better understand your right to counsel, you should first be aware of what to expect during a routine traffic stop. What can occur with a traffic stop largely depends on why your vehicle is being stopped in the first place. The officer may have noticed reckless driving on your part or may have seen you not wearing your seat belt. The issue could also be as simple as a broken taillight. For issues like speeding or running a red light, the officer may provide you with a citation or a warning. A citation is an official document pertaining to the violation that you are being accused of.
Some citations come with a mandatory court appearance while others come with a fine. While citations and fines are the most common results of being pulled over, it’s possible that you will be arrested. An arrest will commonly occur in situations where the individual is driving while intoxicated. If an arrest occurs, it’s important that you’re aware of your right to counsel.
What Right to Counsel Entails
In the state of New Jersey, you have a right to legal counsel when you have been arrested for a DWI or a similar crime. You do not have this right when the vehicle has been stopped or when you’re going through processing at the local police station. The right to counsel will kick in after you’ve been read your rights by the arresting police officer. If you are being arrested for a DWI, you will likely have been presented with a breath test to take.
Before this test is administered, the officer must indicate that you don’t have the right to counsel before taking this test. People choose to obtain this type of counsel in order to minimize their mistakes and to be provided with advice on how to handle the charges. A licensed and experienced attorney like ours will be able to advise you about the next steps that you should take, which may help relieve some of your stress.
Consequences of a Conviction of DWI
The reason why it’s so important that you obtain counsel from a lawyer after you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime is because of the consequences of a conviction. These consequences can be severe and may range from community service to the placement of an interlock ignition system in your car. In New Jersey, the penalties for a DWI fall into three categories based on the number of times you’ve been charged with this crime. The penalties can be even stiffer if you’re being charged with an aggravated DWI, which occurs when your blood alcohol content is at .10 percent or higher. The types of penalties that could be attributed to you include:
- Heavy fines and insurance surcharges
- Jail time
- Driver’s license suspension that could extend to 10 years
- Issues with job and school applications
- Problems when applying for credit
Even a first offense can lead to a license suspension for 30 days and hundreds of dollars in fines. While it may not be possible to avoid all of these penalties, an attorney can provide you with the best path forward.
If you are currently facing charges stemming from driving under the influence or require similar legal assistance, call DUI attorney Denis Driscoll today to learn more about the legal options you have for your situation.