If you have been charged with DWI in New Jersey, you may have heard of something called a “lower tier” while researching your options.
This term refers to the different tiers of penalties in New Jersey for a first offense drunk driving conviction. These tiers are based on your blood alcohol content (BAC) level.
For a BAC level of 0.08 but less than 0.10, there is a minimum license suspension of 3 months.
For a BAC level of 0.10% or higher, there is a minimum license suspension of 7 months.
For a BAC level of 0.15%, there is the additional penalty of mandatory interlock device installation in your automobile.
Prosecutors can rely on two methods to convict defendants of DWI: the BAC level and field sobriety tests.
If your BAC level was not collected properly, it can be excluded from evidence. The prosecutor is also required to provide your attorney with certain documents in discovery. If any of these documents are missing, the BAC can be invalidated.
If the BAC is invalid, that meant the prosecutor must rely on the field sobriety tests to convict you. While DWI cases are not allowed to be plea bargained in New Jersey, it often means that a person can plead guilty to a lower tier in penalties. This is because, depending on the facts of the case, the prosecutor may still have enough to convict you based on the field sobriety tests.
Without the BAC level to determine the tier of penalties, this could result in a 3 month license suspension instead of 7 as well as no required interlock installation.
If you are facing a DWI charge in New Jersey, you should review all of your possible defenses with an attorney. These defenses may include defenses to the breath test, blood test, and/or field sobriety tests.
There are many strategies to fighting DWI cases and whether or not a lower tier is an appropriate outcome depends on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Call Jason T. Komninos, Esq. at (201) 343-4622 to schedule a consultation.