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New Jersey Legal Blog

What are the penalties for drunk driving in New Jersey?

Many individuals go out with their friends and drink, then get behind the wheels of their cars not realizing just how intoxicated they are. What these individuals don't think about is how there's an uptick in police presence at night. They're on the lookout for motorists that are driving recklessly. If they stop you on suspicion of drunk driving and your fail their field sobriety and other tests, then you may be arrested for drunk driving. This crime is penalized quite harshly here in New Jersey.

A first-time driving under the influence (DUI) conviction carries with it a fine of up to $300 as well as a possible 30-day jail sentence. You may also end up with a suspended license and be ordered to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for up to seven months. A judge may also order you to complete a 12-hour driver's education class. You may also be assessed an automobile insurance surcharge for up to three years.

Tips for parenting after a relationship ends

Raising a child can be difficult even during the best of times. However, it is often more challenging for those who are faced with the prospect of raising a child with a former spouse or partner. Parents will likely be in each other's lives for years or decades to come. Ideally, those in New Jersey or anywhere else who are faced with the prospect of parenting a child with someone they may not get along with will put the needs of their children first.

It is important for individuals to understand that they don't get to make decisions on their own. Instead, it is important for both parents to work together to make decisions as to where the child goes to school or what types of medical treatment he or she should receive. Working as a unit minimizes the likelihood that a son or daughter will try to play a mother against a father or vice versa.

Psychology tests in court could be faulty, study says

Some people in New Jersey who are facing misdemeanor or felony charges may find themselves being required to take psychological and IQ tests that are not supported by evidence. According to a study that appeared in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a third of the tests used are not reviewed in any professional publications. Only 40% of those that were reviewed were considered reliable while almost one-quarter were not. Despite this, the validity of these tests was challenged less than 3% of the time.

The study used data from more than 800 court cases that happened between 2016 and 2018. While the most frequently used test, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, has generally positive professional reviews, the second most commonly used, the Rorschach test, is considered too ambiguous by many professionals.

Reasons why you shouldn't delay a divorce

Taking action to file a divorce can be a difficult thing to commit to. When you know that taking an action such as this will not only affect your own life but the lives of your children, you may start overthinking about what choice is best. It's impossible to predict exactly how your life will change after divorce, therefore you may start to think about worst-case scenarios that prevent you from moving forward and taking the plunge.

Overthinking in any scenario prevents progress. If you know that your marriage is not going to improve but you are fearful about taking action to file for divorce, the following are some reasons why it's best not to delay such a decision.

How divorce may affect Social Security benefits

After a divorce, some people in New Jersey may be eligible to draw Social Security benefits on an ex-spouse's work record in retirement. The marriage must have lasted a minimum of 10 years, and there are a few other requirements.

It is possible to start claiming benefits at age 62 although the payments will be larger for people who wait until they reach full retirement age. If it is less than two years since the divorce, the ex-spouse must also have begun claiming the benefits, but if it has been at least two years, it is possible to start just as long as the ex-spouse is also of eligible age. The person cannot be remarried although the former spouse can be. Finally, the person's own Social Security benefits must be lower than those of the ex-spouse.

Working together as co-parents after divorce

Once the divorce is over for parents in New Jersey, they still may be co-parents for many years. This can be challenging, but it is important to focus on making sure their children are stable and happy. For example, even though there is a parenting schedule, there might be a time when one parent has the opportunity to do something fun with the child during the other parent's time. The other parent should consider being flexible and allowing this.

Parents need to be able to communicate with one another. They may need to take a co-parenting class or consider family therapy. There are also alternatives to speaking on the phone or face-to-face. They can use text, email or online tools designed for divorced parents to communicate. Above all, their children should not be turned into messengers. Parents should also try to present a unified front. This means trying to keep schedules, discipline and rules the same between homes to give children a greater sense of security.

Miranda rights: More than the right to remain silent

"You have the right to remain silent." For many people in New Jersey, this is a familiar phrase. Even if people have not encountered it through their own experiences, they have heard these warnings on a police drama on television. However, people may not consider just how important the Miranda rights can be until they or a loved one face charges in a criminal case. The Miranda rights take their name from a 1966 Supreme Court case that affirmed the obligation of police to provide information to people they arrest about their rights under the Fifth Amendment, which protects people against self-incrimination.

When people are arrested, police must inform them of their right to remain silent, that their statements can be used against them in court, of their right to a lawyer and that one can be appointed if they cannot afford to pay. While the form of the Miranda warnings may seem almost rote due to their pop-culture familiarity, they speak to fundamental principles that any person facing criminal charges may benefit from keeping in mind. People are not required to talk to the police and they can ask for a lawyer instead, no matter what police interrogators may tell them later on.

Mourning and rebuilding after divorce

Going through a divorce in New Jersey can be one of the most stressful experiences in a person's life. It is natural and necessary to go through a period of mourning following such a significant loss, but the exact timeline and length of the mourning period can vary from case to case. Generally speaking, though, people will go through the same steps. The steps are acceptance, mourning, reinvention, goal setting and career protection.

Acceptance of the divorce as a real thing is a necessary step in the process of going through and recovering from divorce. It can be easy to get stuck in the past, especially if the person didn't want the divorce to happen. Mourning means taking the time a person needs to grieve over the loss. This might mean feeling difficult emotions like sadness, exhaustion or anger. Once the person has moved through the period of mourning, he or she can begin self-reinvention.

Going through a high-asset divorce in New Jersey

Spouses who have been married many years or who have a high income usually face high-asset divorce. High-asset divorces are typically more complex because they involve the division of significant amounts of assets that may be difficult to manage. This can lead to conflicts and litigation. For example, a high-asset couple may need to divide a business or several vacation homes.

If you have already filed for divorce as a spouse with a high number of assets, or if you are worried about filing for divorce because you are unsure of the financial implications, you must take action to understand the law and how it will likely affect you. The following are some common mistakes made in New Jersey high-asset divorces that you should try to avoid.

Unproven investigative technique used widely by police

Many New Jersey residents may expect police investigations to be like those often portrayed in movies and TV dramas, focused on accuracy and taking advantage of the latest advanced scientific techniques. Unfortunately, however, some investigations and forensic techniques are fraught with pseudoscience and questionable tactics that allow police to go after a suspect they have already decided is guilty, regardless of the potential of a different perpetrator or the original suspect's innocence. Many techniques used by police, despite being taught in classes paid for by police departments around the world, are scientifically unproven and highly unreliable.

One of these techniques is called Scientific Content Analysis, or SCAN. The creator of the program argues that it can make investigators into "human polygraphs" determining whether or not a suspect is responsible for a crime during an interrogation. The basis of the technique involves asking a suspect to write out a narrative of the events surrounding the crime. After that, a police officer trained in the technique will go over the statement, looking for grammatical quirks that allegedly point to signs of deception.

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