The 60-Day “Rule” and Common Misconceptions About It

olice officer holding a pen and doing a field sobriety test

In New Jersey, there is something called the 60-day rule for New Jersey DWI cases. Many years ago, the New Jersey administrative office of the courts issued an administrative order requiring municipal courts to conclude DWI cases within 60 days from the date the ticket was filed in the court. Does this mean that you can have your case dismissed if it is not concluded within 60 days of you getting a ticket? In reality, probably not.

Since this order was issued, the Courts have determined that 60 days is not a realistic time period within which to resolve a DWI charge. Understandably, the notion of a 60-day rule can lead to many misconceptions about how your case can be dismissed if the court doesn’t resolve it in that time period. All things considered, the 60-day “rule” is more like a guideline.

Notably, the New Jersey Supreme Court discussed the unrealistic time limitation the 60 days rule sets for DWI cases. The Court explained that when DWI cases are appropriately handled, there are many technical defenses that sometimes require the case to take 90 or more days to resolve. This is why it is important to consult an experienced DUI / DWI attorney when facing a charge of driving under the influence. An experienced attorney will know how long the discovery process (getting all of the information and evidence) will likely take, take the time to appropriately build a solid defense, and ensure the best possible result for you – which is likely to take more than 60 days. If the government does take longer than the law permits, a good lawyer will know and may even be able to have your case thrown out completely.

How a Case Proceeds Through Municipal Court

To get a better understanding of how the 60-day rule actually works, its important to understand how a drunk driving case typically moves through municipal court. Once a defense attorney or public defender receives a case, the discovery period begins. Discovery is the process under which the evidence in the case is provided for the defense. This will include the police reports, video evidence, breath tests and other vital information that will help determine the driver’s fate. When an attorney makes a request for discovery, it is possible that all of the items requested will not be provided. This may require a defense attorney to file a motion to compel the prosecution to provide the requested evidence, thus delaying the case. If the court agrees with the motion and gives a date by which the discovery must be handed over, and that date passes, the defense can request a dismissal of the case.

If everything is provided and nothing is preventing the case from moving forward, it is then that rules regarding timing come into play. A defendant is entitled to a “speedy trial” and if a case is moving slowly without any good reason, this too can be grounds for a defense lawyer to request a dismissal of the case, but this is on a case-by-case basis, and will require a greater lapse of time. While some courts do try to stick to the 60-day guideline, this can often come at the expense of proper litigation and can negatively affect the case. The defense may not have adequate time to investigate the case, talk with any witnesses, analyze all of the evidence, speak with experts, etc.

However, if there is an unreasonable delay of your case without good cause and 60 days have passed, then a knowledgeable attorney will be able to work to compel the court to get the case moving. That is why it is imperative to speak with an experienced and savvy DWI/DUI defense attorney when faced with charges for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, especially if you feel nothing has been happening with your case for quite some time.

New Jersey DUI / DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Defend You if You Are Charged with Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated

If you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI / DWI attorney who can explain your rights to you and vigorously defend you. If you go to court, an experienced lawyer can also make sure you get the best result possible or may even be able to have the charges against you dismissed entirely. A great attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.