New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Discusses Prom Season, Graduation, Summer, and the Extreme Consequences of Underage Drinking

New Jersey Drunk Driving AttorneyProm season and graduation season are here and the New Jersey police are taking underage drinking seriously this year. With prom underway, graduation nearing, and the excitement of summer vacation and college freedom looming, it’s not consider the dangers associated with this behavior, drinking alcohol before the age of 21 is illegal in the Garden State. But as with many laws, there will always be those who decide to risk it, and many teens don’t always think before taking every action.

With this in mind, police departments across the state are gearing up to ensure the safety of high school students during these annual occasions. This includes generally being on high alert for young drivers, as well as DWI checkpoints. For example, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Crash Investigations Unit is setting up DUI/DWI checkpoints at random that will pop up from now through the end of June. Additionally, law enforcement will be on the lookout for underage drinkers at places like the Jersey Shore, which are especially popular amongst teens at this time of year while off from school.

At the same time, we at the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog are also aware of the serious consequences associated with drinking and driving, especially for drivers who are underage. For that reason, we always recommend that anyone who is charged with driving while intoxicated consult with an experienced New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense attorney, who has the knowledge and motivation to help.

New Jersey’s Zero-Tolerance Policy

New Jersey takes underage drinking very seriously. Indeed, if you are found driving under the influence of alcohol on prom night, you can expect a zero-tolerance policy. In New Jersey, the legal definition of intoxication for an underage driver is a blood alcohol level of.01%. A teen driver can be prosecuted even if his alcohol level is below the .08% legal limit allowed for adult drivers.

Part of the reason for this increased enforcement is because vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for young people aged 12 to 19. In particular, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 1,000 youth under age 21 die each year in preventable tragedies while celebrating their high school proms and graduations. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the months of April through June are some of the most dangerous times of the year for teens, with nearly one-third of alcohol-related teen motor vehicle deaths occurring between these months.

Therefore, the State of New Jersey is looking to combat these numbers by escalating police presence of DUI checkpoints from now through the end of June, and until the end of summer at places like the shore.

Legal Consequences of Underage Drinking and Driving

Even if you are underage and it is your first offense, a DWI conviction could mean the loss of your license for a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 90 days. You may also be sentenced to community service for a minimum of 15 days and a maximum of 30 days. Persons below the age of 21 convicted of DUI in New Jersey will also be required to undertake a highway safety program or pay fees and penalties as prescribed by the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. Additionally, your car will be impounded, making it difficult to get to school or work. You may also face insurance rate increases and legal fees that cost thousands of dollars to resolve.

Not to mention, a DUI/DWI conviction will go on your record. Unfortunately, many teens don’t grasp the seriousness of this offense. They don’t realize that you may be required to disclose it on college applications, future job applications and even for financial aid requests. A drunk driving conviction could also make you permanently ineligible for certain jobs in the future.

If you decided to drink and drive before the age of 21, it may seem like a small decision at the time, but the consequences of a DUI conviction can last a lifetime.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Defends Underage Drivers Accused of Driving While Intoxicated

If you, your child, or anyone else has been charged with underage drinking, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who can answer all your questions and help defend you against potentially life-altering consequences. You do not need to face these battles alone. A knowledgeable drunk driving lawyer can review the evidence against you and present the best case in your defense. A good DUI attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

Drunk Driving Charges and Your Right to Receive Instructions in a Language You Can Understand


In all states, including New Jersey, if you arrested for driving while intoxicated, the police officer must read a “standard statement” that contains instructions telling the driver that he or she MUST submit to breath testing if there is probable cause to believe that the person was driving under the influence of alcohol. Part of the standard statement – sometimes referred to in New Jersey as Paragraph 36 – is the warning that if you refuse to submit to the breath test and “if a court finds you guilty of the refusal, you will be subject to various penalties, including license revocation of up to 20 years, a fine of up to $2000, installation of an ignition interlock, and referral to an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. These penalties may be in addition to penalties imposed by the court for any other offense of which you are found guilty.” The entire statement is meant to inform you that there are serious consequences that will occur if you refuse to provide a breath sample. A copy of Paragraph 36, as updated in 2012, can be found at

But what happens if you or someone you know does not speak English? ¿Hablas Español? Nói tiếng Việt? Говорить по-русски? Another language? Regardless of what language you speak, New Jersey law also provides that you have a right to have these instructions provided to you in a language that you can understand. Otherwise, it is possible that your rights are being impermissibly violated.

State v. Rodriguez-Alejo

In State v. Rodriguez-Alejo, a Spanish-speaking man who could barely speak English, and who had only been in the United States for two years and had taken his driving test in Spanish, was pulled over and suspected of drunk driving.  At the police station, the officer attempted to read the standard instructions to the defendant, and the man stated that he did not understand.   Although he tried to follow along with the police officer anyway, who used a combination of words and gestures to provide instructions, the defendant was not able to provide a proper breath sample and was later convicted for refusing to comply with the breath sample requirements.

On appeal, the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division restated that a police officer must read the standard statement to any defendant who is arrested for DWI/DUI, and the defendant must CLEARLY agree to submit to a breathalyzer test. Therefore, the Court held that reading the standard statement to motorists in a language they do not speak is the same thing as not reading the statement at all.

In order to be “informed” of the warnings that are provided in Paragraph 36, the information must be given to the defendant in a language he or she speaks and understands. The same reasoning applies to any instructions that are given to a defendant about how to actually take a breathalyzer test. Based on this holding, the Court decided that the Spanish-speaking defendant could not be convicted for refusing to provide a breath sample.

State v. Shaymardanov

It is important to note, however, that a defendant only needs to understand the instructions being given to him – the instructions do not need to be given in the defendant’s best or native language.

Recently, in the case of State v. Shaymardanov, the Appellate Division revisited State v. Rodriguez-Alejo with regard to a Russian-speaking defendant who was pulled over and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Although the Court determined that Rodriguez-Alejo was still good law, the Appellate Division upheld the conviction, finding that the driver always appeared to understand the police officer and the police officer had no trouble understanding the defendant.

Instructions Available in Other Languages

Since at least 2010, the State has arranged for certified translated versions of the standard statement to be prepared—in both written and audio form—in the nine foreign languages in which the MVC offers the written driver’s test – Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. If you or someone you care about is arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, it is likely that the police will be able to provide you with instructions in a language you can understand. While you should always contact an experienced New Jersey DWI / DUI lawyer / attorney if you are charged, an attorney may be able to help if you were never provided with instructions in a language you could understand.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Will Fight to Make Sure Your Rights Were Protected

If you or someone you know is charged for any crime relating to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who can explain what rights you have in your specific situation. If you go to court, an experienced lawyer can also make sure you get the best result possible. Having an experienced drunk driving lawyer 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.

Consequences of a First or Second DUI for Commercial Drivers

Man being given sobriety test

If you or someone you know is a commercial driver in New Jersey, the potential consequences of facing a first or second drunk driving charge cannot be understated. When driving is your livelihood, and possibly the sole source of income for you and your family, the penalties for drunk driving even one time can be devastating. Many commercial drivers don’t realize that they may be facing additional penalties for even their first offense. If you are charged with DUI, what are you actually facing?

First Offense

Anyone facing a DUI charge in New Jersey is justifiably concerned about the possible effects of a conviction. But for commercial drivers in our state specifically, the consequences are enhanced. A commercial driver in New Jersey who is found guilty of operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence is subject to many consequences. Those include notification to the Commercial Driver License Information System, suspension of his/her commercial driver license for between 1 to 3 years, as well as fines and possible jail time. There is no set fine for a first violation, however under N.J.S.A. 39:3-86, the court may impose a fine of anywhere between $25 to $500. Additionally, a $33 court fee may be imposed, as well as a $6 surcharge and $50 assessment to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board. Finally, although the laws do not specifically state a jail term for a first offense, it is possible for the court to impose a sentence of up to 30 days in jail if the offense involves a commercial vehicle

Additionally, even if this is your first offense, but you have previously been convicted of certain other crimes, you can be subject to a mandatory lifetime suspension of your commercial driving privileges. If you are a full-time driver in shipping, transport, or other industries, this means you could become deprived of your sole source income and be denied employment in your field of choice.

Previous convictions for the following crimes would subject you to the lifetime suspension:

  • Operating a commercial vehicle while on the revoked list
  • Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident as an operator driving a commercial vehicle
  • Using a commercial vehicle in the commission of a crime
  • Refusal to submit to a breath test

Also, it does not matter when these previous convictions happened. A court may consider it even if it was 5, 10, 30 years ago. Therefore, if you ever find yourself facing a DUI charge while operating a commercial vehicle, you should consider retaining an attorney and carefully review your past and advise your attorney of any previous criminal history you may have. It is also important to note that if you happen to be transporting any hazardous material or even just are driving a vehicle that simply displays a hazardous material placard, your commercial driver license must be suspended for three years under New Jersey state law.

Second Offense – mandatory lifetime loss of CDL

If you have previously been convicted of a DUI while operating a commercial vehicle, you know the serious consequences that you can face. Although the monetary penalties are the same for second-time offenders who are found guilty of operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence, there are a few key differences when it comes to facing a second offense. First, second offender operating a commercial vehicle are subject to a jail term of between 2 to 90 days. Second, you will lose your commercial driving privileges for life. Third, step-down provisions that New Jersey provides for some subsequent DUI offenders DOES NOT APPLY to suspensions of commercial driving privileges. Notably, however, New Jersey law does allow for a possible reduction of a lifetime suspension of your commercial driver’s license to 10 years. This power lies with the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission and they have certain guidelines regarding when a reduction is appropriate. Therefore, it is important to discuss all of these possibilities with an experienced DUI attorney, because every situation and case is different.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help Commercial Drivers Facing DUI Charges

Defending against a DWI charge, especially one involving a commercial driver, can involve many potential penalties. If you are charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence in New Jersey, knowing what your rights are can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.