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Steven W. Hernandez

Steven Hernandez’s Answers

103 total

  • I received a summons for DUI on Friday September 4th.

    I have a court date of September 17th. It was my first offense. What can I expect?

    Steven’s Answer

    Well, your first appearance is called an arraignment. At your arraignment the judge will tell you what you are charged with and what the fines and penalties are. For a first offense, the penalties depend on your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or whether you were impaired by drugs.

    If your BAC was 0.08, but less that 0.10, you are looking at a 3 month DLsuspension, $300 to $500 in fines, $389 in assessments, $1,000 a year (for 3 years) MV surcharge, a 12 alcohol evaluation in the IDRC, and the possibility of an ignition interlock device.

    If your BAC was 0.10 but less than 0.15,you are looking at a 7 to 12 month DL suspension, $300 to $500 in fines, $389 in assessments, $1,000 a year (for 3 years) MV surcharge, a 12 alcohol evaluation in the IDRC, and the possibility of an ignition interlock device.

    If your BAC was 0.15 or greater, then you are facing $300 to $500 in fines, $389 in assessments, $1,000 a year (for 3 years) MV surcharge, a 12 alcohol evaluation in the IDRC, and a MANDATORY of an ignition interlock device.

    For any first offense you could be sentenced to unto 30 days in jail, but is is no improbable, I would not worry.

    The best way to avoid these penalties and suspension is to find a lawyer who is properly trained in DWI defense, Lawyers are not interchangeable and some are more knowledgeable than others. DWI is a subject that requires a knowledge of forensic science, especially in blood or urine cases, but even in breath testing.

    A good DWI Lawyer will have the following:
    (1) Alcotest Certified
    (2) DWI Detection and Field Sobriety Test Certification
    (3) Drug Recognition Expert Training
    (4) Forensic Chromatography Certification (blood or urine cases)

    Also, be wary of dump truck lawyers! A dump truck lawyer is a person who charged a ridiculously low fee. This is a good sign they intend you plead you the first time they get to court. A good defense takes multiple appearances and thus time. And you know what time equals, right?

    You should speak to a lawyer who will gibe you the time you need to go over your case and not try to quickly sign you up, so they can get back to something else.

    Good luck!

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  • My son's father was arrested for a DUI twice within a three month period. What are his chances of having them both dismissed.

    Both arrests were made in Burlington County NJ. The first in Delran and the second in Lumberton. He also has a current Felony charge for possession of a controlled substance (marijuana)

    Steven’s Answer

    I'll start by echoing the sentiments of many people here, we need more information. Rather than post facts here, you should have him call a lawyer who specializes in DWI defense, perhaps one who does ONLY DWI defense work. Hiring a general practitioner can be risky as very few have the training, experience, and scientific knowledge needed to fight a DWI, let alone two. However, such an lawyer is not cheap. Lawyers are not like one size fits all shirts, you will not get the same service from just any lawyer.

    To start, we need details on the reason for the stop. Police must have a reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop a motor vehicle and probable cause to arrest. Observations made by the police officer as to what he smelled, saw, and heard, will play an important role here, especially in the form of field sobriety testing. Probable cause will allow the officer to make the arrest.

    Next we need to look at the chemical testing. Was it breath, blood, or urine? Breath tests can be difficult to challenge, especially if you don't know what to look for. A good lawyer, will be able to analyze the discovery for defects and scientific deficiencies. I emphasize science here because it is science that is used to convict and the science which must be challenged to win. A good lawyer comes into a case saying "there is no trust me in science." Blood and urine are easier to beat than the right lawyers hands.

    What constitutes the right lawyer?

    Is her or she trained in field sobriety testing?

    Have they received formal Alcotest training? Are they a certified Alcotest operator. You know there are 70,000 lawyers in NJ and less than 80 have taken the opportunity to take this training.

    Are they trained in the forensic analysis of blood and urine? The American Chemical Society has a specialized training course that will allow lawyers to learn how blood, urine, and drugs are analyzed and how to challenge those results. They even have a special designation known as Lawyer-Scientist.

    Is the lawyer a trial attorney? One way to know is by either meeting them or talking to them on the phone. If they start talking about pleading guilty, they are probably not a trial lawyer. There is a special certification available to Municipal Court Trial Lawyers, which requires them to handle a certain number of DWI cases, try a certain number of DWI cases, and then pass a test. Few have this designation.

    What professional DWI associations are they a member of?

    What DWI seminars have they attended? There are national DWI seminars out there. If a lawyer can't take the time to attend, maybe you continue looking for a lawyer.

    If you are looking for a cheap lawyer, remember, you get what you pay for.

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  • I am not guilty of a DUI yet my lawyer told me to take Reckless Driving, but now tells me not to.

    Never arrested. I skid on the snow and a trooper came out. He searched me & took a legal prescription for pain off me then got a DRE. Both lied and said I was impaired. The video and 911 call shows I was not. I did not know I didn't have to give u...

    Steven’s Answer

    Let's address your points one at a time.

    (1) You were arrested. That is why you are here today. There is no magical word "you are under arrest." The minute he deprived you of your liberty, put the cuffs on, and took you to the station, you were under arrest.

    (2) The officer says you are impaired. You disagree. This is an opinion. He will base his opinion on the DRE examination, particularly the vital signs. Most importantly, he will base his opinion on any admission you made. For example, if you admitted to taking oxycodone for pain, then based on your vitals and your admission, he will opine that you were under the influence of a narcotic analgesic. The question comes down to (a) how well does your lawyer know the DRE curriculum to challenge the DRE opinion and (b) who will the judge believe. DREs can be beaten, but you need a Judge who will agree the science is flawed.

    (3) Reckless driving instead of a DWI is very hard to come by. This is a great result and a home-run. You should take it. Reckless can be justified by driving conduct. Maybe you were going to fats for icy conditions? Again a reckless is a home-run, you should be thanking this lawyer, naming a kid after him, etc.

    (4) Municipal Court judges are generally family law lawyers, with little to know experience in criminal/municipal court matters. They are also political appointments. They also are inclined to believe a well trained police officer over a suspected impaired driver. Judges will usually find people guilty.

    (5) Your lawyer is playing the game you want him to. You won't take the reckless, so what is there left to do. If you are innocent then he can't plead you to a DUI. He is covering his ass, and rightfully so. If you are convicted after a trial, then there can be no allegation of malpractice, especially since you were offered a reckless and turned it down.

    (6) You would have to pay a full fee.

    (7) You would have to PROVE corruption. If you can, then the place would be the NJ Attorney General's Office.

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  • Can Information discovered during discovery by a DWI consultant (expert) be used to dismiss or lessen a DWI charge?

    First offense DWI, and .23 alco test. Info. discovered by expert...1. Officer failed to check oral cavity before breathalyzer test. 2. Officer failed to change mouth piece between tests and 3. Missing information (not provided during discovery) ...

    Steven’s Answer

    It sounds like you have some doubt in what your lawyer is advising you. Well, rest assured, he or she is telling you the truth when they say that experts can help. I have used experts in many cases and have received favorable results is many of them. However, there is no guarantee the Prosecutor will accept the Expert's opinion and dismiss/ reduce the charges/ In that situation you need two things: (1) a lawyer with courage to take your case to trial and (2) to have your expert paid to be in court.

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  • Can you get a cdl license in new jersey if you've had 2 dui's?

    If you have had 2 dui's can you get a cdl in new jersey?

    Steven’s Answer

    There is no easy answer to this. If you had a CDL when you got your second, then they would permanently take it away. However, you may not be precluded. You should apply and make sure you are truthful with al questions. The worst that can happen is they say no.

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  • In New Jersey, what are the likely punishments for a first time DWI with a BAC of .19, and should I obtain a lawyer?

    Ran out of gas, was outside the vehicle trying to wave someone down.

    Steven’s Answer

    If you are found guilty the court will suspend your license for 7 to 12 months. You will be required to install an ignition interlock device for 6 to 18 months, you will pay fines of $300 to $500, $364 in assessments, $1,000 a year for three years to MVC, and 12 hour alcohol evaluation.

    Hiring a lawyer is the ONLY chance you have of beating this charge. A very good lawyer may be able to find a defense to your charges and your breath test result. But beware of imitators.

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  • IDRC

    Hello. I was in my IDRC class yesterday when that severe storm came through and the electric went out, so the class got done early, but we still got credit for it. Now today for the second session, I don't know if we have class or not. Those surro...

    Steven’s Answer

    The best thing you can do is show up.

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  • I had false DUI charges put on me. During my 911 call, my voice was clear. They said they can't find it

    My lawyer has had months and did not get the 911 call. They sent a letter they can't locate it. Lawyer said it's better not to get because it has to go through Prosecutor and will 'tip him off'. I don't trust this theory, I think they didn't act ...

    Steven’s Answer

    As a Lawyer who specializes in DWI, I always want the 911 recordings, so I know what is on there and what is not. By not getting it, your lawyer could be leaving defenses on the table. As for them not finding it, that is another story. There may be a motion or two available to you for the lost discovery.

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  • Dui question

    My adult daughter had at least 3 dui's and many drug charges - was also caught driving on suspension. Presently does not reside with us in nj, been in and out of jail rehabs. Wants to return home to reside with family - I stated "no" because our n...

    Steven’s Answer

    Insurance companies are allowed to set conditions for their policy holders. Your daughter is of such a high risk category and they can set limits, not where she lives, but on who they carry. The theory is that she could possibly drive one of the insured vehicles and have an accident, or another DWI.

    She needs to get her suspension over with and then go event free for three years before the insurance companies do not see her as a high risk.

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  • How long does the police or prosecution have to charge someone with DUI

    Only hospital has BAC

    Steven’s Answer

    The State has ninety days from the date of arrest to charge you and serve you with a complaint. You wrote that the only the hospital has your results. How do you know this? Just because your blood was drawn at the hospital does not mean it was analyzed there. In most blood DWIs, the arresting officer takes possession of the blood and transports it to his station where it is stored in an evidence refrigerator. A few days later, it is then transported to the lab for analysis. If the hospital does in fact have the results, the State can obtain them through a "Dyal" subpoena.

    What you need here is a lawyer who understands not only the law (especially constitutional law), but the analytical chemistry as well. An attorney who specializes in DWI is a good place to start.

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