Like most other governors around the country, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued a “stay-at-home” order in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While the order was in effect, it prohibited travel for most purposes, with exceptions for picking up groceries and a limited number of other “essential” activities.
So if you got pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI) during New Jersey’s stay-at-home order, what (if anything) will be different about your case?
1. While New Jersey’s Municipal and Superior Courts are Closed, You Will Still Be Prosecuted for DUI
In conjunction with Governor Murphy’s issuance of the state’s stay-at-home order, the New Jersey Courts also closed for most purposes. While the courts have now begun to reopen, they are currently operating at limited capacity, and the backlog created while the courts were closed means that defendants can continue to expect significant delays.
However, while your trial will most likely be delayed, you will still need to defend against your DUI charge. DUI cases are being delayed, not dropped, and you will still need to present an effective defense at the appropriate time in order to avoid a license suspension, possible jail time, and other penalties.
2. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Is Also Closed, So You Will Need to Understand What Your Arrest Means for Your Driving Privileges
While the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) has reopened to the public after closing during the COVID-19 crisis, it is currently only handling certain types of transactions in person, and many people are still experiencing significant delays. Since a DUI arrest can result in an automatic administrative license suspension by the MVC, you will need to speak with a DUI defense lawyer to determine what you need to do about protecting your right to drive.
3. You Could Be Prosecuted for Violating New Jersey’s Stay-at-Home Order
If you were not driving to or from home in connection with an essential activity when you got pulled over, then you could also be charged with violating New Jersey’s stay-at-home order. When the order was still in effect, New Jersey’s Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal, told the New Jersey Law Journal that his office was, “strictly enforcing the Governor’s Executive Orders during this public health emergency, and those who refuse to comply will face serious legal consequences.” According to Grewal, depending on the circumstances involved, charges for violating the order will, “rang[e] from a disorderly persons offense to second-, third- and fourth-degree indictable offenses.”
In New Jersey, a disorderly persons offense carries a possible sentence of a $1,000 fine and six months of jail time. If you are prosecuted for an indictable offense, you could be at risk for tens of thousands of dollars in fines (up to $150,000) and several years behind bars.
Discuss Your Case with Hackensack DUI Defense Lawyer Scott Gorman
Were you arrested for DUI in New Jersey during the novel coronavirus pandemic? If so, we encourage you to schedule a free initial consultation at The Gorman Law Firm. To speak with Hackensack defense lawyer Scott Gorman in confidence, call 201-489-9199 or inquire online today.
Published in Categories: DUI / DWI