For ordinary traffic tickets in New Jersey the defendant is not always required to make a court appearance to respond to the citation issued against them. However, since driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a charge that is quasi-criminal in nature, the defendant must appear in court to answer to the charge against them. This first appearance in a municipal court is called the arraignment.
At the arraignment, the judge will advise the defendant of the charges entered against them, explain their rights under the law and then the defendant will be required to enter a plea, either guilty or not guilty. An entry of a guilty plea will result in an immediate sentencing for a DWI conviction, while a not guilty plea will have your case adjourned, or postponed, to a later date for trial. If you appear at your arraignment without legal counsel, the judge will explain that you have the right to an attorney if you cannot afford one.
If you are charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in New Jersey, you can expect your arraignment to be scheduled within a few days of your arrest. To find out more about the arraignment process in New Jersey or to get answers to some questions you may have about your DWI charge, you should contact a DWI lawyer.
How Can I Find Out My Arraignment Date?
If you have received a summons for DWI in New Jersey you will find your arraignment date at the bottom of your summons below where it says “Notice to Appear.” This is where “Court Appearance Required” will be checked off and a date and time will be entered by the arresting officer. The municipal court you are required to appear at will be typed at the top of your ticket along with its street address.
What Happens If I Don't Show Up For My First Appearance?
If you fail to appear on the date on your summons, the court will take further action. Since a DUI charge requires a personal appearance by you in court, if you do not appear, a bench warrant for your arrest will be issued and a bail amount will be assessed. Additionally, the court may order an immediate suspension of your driver's license for failure to appear at its discretion. Avoiding your appearance at your arraignment is not worth the risks involved. If you need assistance understanding the DWI arraignment process in New Jersey, you should speak with a DWI lawyer immediately.
Hire An Attorney To Postpone Your First Court Appearance
As stated above, your first appearance is scheduled quickly after your arrest, usually within just a few days. This doesn't give you a lot of time to retain a lawyer to help you fight your DWI charges beforehand. However, it is very important that you try to hire a DUI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. Do not appear in court and enter a guilty plea in hopes of putting your DWI arrest behind you. If you retain a lawyer in advance of your first appearance, they will write to the court on your behalf and will requesting an adjournment (postponement) of your case. This will provide you with more time to prepare your defense with the help of your counsel in turn enhancing the likelihood of reducing your penalties if you are found guilty in the end.