April 16, 2014

Motorist Arrested for Cherry Hill DWI after Allegedly Hitting Police Cruiser and Fleeing Scene

Being at odds with the police may seem like a situation that no one really should invite, but it is not uncommon for drunken driving subjects to be aggressive or simply argumentative with police, which may seem surprising considering the potential downside of being uncooperative or belligerent during a roadside DWI or drug DUI stop. Simply put, it is never a wise idea to challenge the authority of a state trooper or even a municipal patrolman when facing a potential drunk driving charge.

As Garden State DWI-DUI defense attorneys, my legal team regularly defends individuals accused of operating a motor vehicle on New Jersey roadways while intoxicated by alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Every person accused of a crime or serious traffic offense, such as drunken driving or drug possession in a motor vehicle, deserves to have his or her day in court. Providing a proper and effective legal defense is the job of my firm, especially in cases of driving while intoxicated.

While hindsight is certainly 20-20, advice after the fact is rarely helpful to the individual already charged with an offense; however, when the topic comes up, if a friend, relative or acquaintance asks for any tips on how to alleviate the effects of a DWI traffic stop, we can only remind people that not much is ever gained from complicating an arrest by fighting either verbally or physically with a law enforcement officer.

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April 14, 2014

Northern Jersey DWI News: Police in Morris County Arrest Two Drivers on Marijuana-related Offenses

Here in the Garden State, possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle (by a driver) is subject to stiff penalties if one is stopped by the police and charged with same. In terms of strict "possession," if a traffic stop reveals that a driver has pot inside his vehicle, a summons for possession will likely be forthcoming. As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I are prepared to defend individuals accused of impaired driving, as well as simply having drugs on one's person during a police stop.

In addition to defending motorists hit with a drug charge following a traffic stop on the parkway, interstate or in town, my legal team is skilled in handling traffic tickets issued for drug possession, including those for weed and other illegal or controlled dangerous substance (CDS). According to the New Jersey legal statutes -- specifically N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1 -- the law prohibits any individual from driving a car, truck or motorcycle while knowingly being in possession of marijuana, cocaine, meth or other CDS. That said, it needs to be explained that this particular law is solely focused on the driver and not the passenger of a motor vehicle.

When attempting to prove such a violation, a municipal prosecutor is obliged to establish several key facts in order to win his case against a defendant. First, the state must prove that the accused was in control, or otherwise operating a motor vehicle. Second, a police officer must have found the weed or other drug on the driver's person. Finally, it must be proved that the motorist "knowingly" possessed the illegal substance. A skilled attorney can sometimes find fault with the state's case if the operator of the vehicle was not within what the law describes as "wingspan" of the physical control of the pot or other CDS. One common situation is when the substance was on the person of another occupant of the vehicle.

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April 6, 2014

Monmouth County Police Blotter: Drunken Driving Arrests for Several Drivers in Middletown Area

Police officers in Middletown Twp. Had a busy week not long ago when they arrested and charged five individual drivers with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Without knowing the specific circumstances of each arrest, it is difficult to know how or why each of these drivers was served with a summons for DWI, however it is instructive to remind readers that being stopped on any Garden State roadway can open a person up to extreme scrutiny, especially if they in any way exhibit some key signs of impairment.

As New Jersey drunken driving defense lawyers, my colleagues and I understand the difficult position under which many otherwise law-abiding citizens are placed when they find themselves being questioned on the roadside by a local cop or state trooper. Odd as it may seem to some people, it is possible -- yet amazingly commonplace -- to see a motorist who is pulled over for one of many possible traffic infractions end up admitting, in short order, that he was drinking prior to the police stop.

Providing a police officer with an "admission of guilt" in whatever manner it happens, does not necessarily that the driver's statements can be used against him in court. An experienced DWI defense attorney, like those on the legal team in my firm, will know immediately to ask whether or not the driver was read his or her Miranda Rights prior to their supposed admission of guilt. Similarly, one should also consider whether or not the driver was informed of his right to remain silent. Depending on the situation, if the answer to these two questions was no on both counts, then there is reason to believe that the court may likely strike any admission of guilt from the record, since it was probably not obtained legally.

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April 4, 2014

Are There Any Advantages to Fighting a DWI Charge These Days? Yes, There Often Are

While few people who take the initiative and walk into our law offices ever ask the question, there are many more who may choose not to contact us based on some different answer to that same query. So, really, why should anyone bother trying to fight a drunk driving charge? Don't the police have the upper hand? Isn't it difficult to contest the validity of the prosecution's evidence? And how can the average person know where to start if he or she even entertains the idea of challenging a drunken driving charge?

As experienced New Jersey trial lawyers, we've seen enough DWI and drug DUI cases to know that unless an accused motorists does make that concerted effort to fight for his or her day in court, they will never know what could have been if they hadn't accepted a guilty plea and the penalty consequences that ultimately follow. By not choosing to fight a DWI, drug DUI, or breath test refusal charge, a person essentially places all the power in the hands of the police and the prosecutor's office.

At this point we will add that the consequences don't simply mean the fines and court fees, but they also entail insurance premium increases for years to come and the inevitable license suspension and all of the hassle and aggravation that can create. And let's not forget the ordering of an ignition interlock device to be installed on the accused's vehicle once his or her license is restores; that alone can prove to be embarrassing and inconvenient.

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April 2, 2014

New Jersey Law Enforcement's Pursuit of Drunken Drivers Unlikely to Abate

We see it quite frequently; the various anti-drunk driving campaigns accompanied by enhanced enforcement, such as saturation patrols during major holidays and late-night sobriety roadblocks on the weekends. In short, the apparent war on intoxicated motorists continues at a fairly regular and deliberate pace here in the Garden State. As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, we know from experience that local police and state patrol officers take their roles very seriously when it comes to pursuing those drivers who may be inebriated behind the wheel.

Some drivers find themselves pulled over in the middle of traffic simply because they appeared to be wandering in their lane, when the reason could have been a minor distraction in the vehicle. Others might end up being flagged off the road at one of the many random roadside DWI checkpoints that seem to pop up at the most inopportune times. Regardless of the circumstances, however, if an office suspects a motorist to be even a slight bit drunk or otherwise impaired by alcohol or prescription drugs -- never mind illegal substances like marijuana or cocaine -- the gloves will come off an a much more intensive investigation will typically commence.

Of course, sometimes the police have reason to be suspicious of a driver's condition, much less his motivation to avoid being picked up by officers for whatever kind of offense. Considering the reputation that New Jersey's police have when drunk driving or drug DUI is involved, some people with a lot to lose will test the will of those law enforcement officers. Take the story of a Hamilton, NJ, driver who attempted to run from police following an alleged drunken driving accident along a portion of Interstate 95 last December.

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March 31, 2014

Could Avoiding a NJ Drunk Driving Arrest be as Simple as Watching How One Drives?

Some people would say that perception is everything these days. It certainly would seem to be based on advertising gimmicks and marketing strategies; but what about daily life? As Garden State drunk driving lawyers we have successfully defended motorists who have been accused of DWI, drug DUI, breath test refusal and other alcohol- and drug-related charges. Many of our clients were charged with impaired vehicle operation following what may have seemed like a routine traffic stop, though they ended completely differently than anyone imagined at the time.

The fact of the matter is a percentage of drivers who are charged with drunk or drug-impaired driving after being stopped by police find later that the reasons for the traffic stop in the first place were erroneous. This is one of the more common instances where the value of retaining a skilled DWI-DUI defense lawyer becomes quite clear. The question that one should typically ask following a drunk driving arrest is whether or not that initial traffic stop was made correctly and for reasonable cause.

It is a fact that here in New Jersey, before a policeman or state trooper can stop a vehicle and arrest the driver for DUI-DWI, that officer must have what we refer to in the legal profession as probable cause. Quite simply, probable cause can be considered as a "reason" to believe that a crime, such as driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, has been committed, and that the person they are detaining actually committed said crime.

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March 28, 2014

Jersey Drunk Driving Update: Odd Driver Behavior is a Red Flag for Police

Just like everyone else, police officers are human. And while patrolmen do have many special skills, as well as years of training in criminology and law enforcement, they are not psychics; however, they do know what to look for when it comes to human behavior on Garden State roadways. As DWI defense lawyers, the attorneys at my firm meet a near constant stream of people who have been charged with traffic infractions and other offenses. On the whole, few of these individuals ever expected to be awaiting a court date to determine whether or not they will be convicted of drinking and driving.

What most people do not realize -- at least not until it is too late -- is that local and state patrolmen have a keen eye for the telltale hints that a motorist may not be paying complete attention to the job of driving. Whether that sign is a poorly executed turn, driving noticeably below the posted speed limit or drifting repeatedly outside of one's lane, a seasoned officer can probably anticipate the outcome of many a routine traffic stop. Unfortunately for most drivers, what is a routine occurrence for a cop is hardly a typical experience for the average person.

There are a variety of strange activities and odd behaviors on the road that can garner a police officer's immediate attention and, in the process, get a driver in very hot water. Especially if an individual has had a drink or two prior to the traffic stop, which might leave the odor of alcohol on the driver's breath, there is a strong chance that the officer is going to suspect some kind of intoxication, at least initially. But, once again, it can often be some minor driving mistake that betrays a motorist and triggers a roadside police stop.

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March 26, 2014

Toms River DWI Blotter: Local Drivers Charged with Hit-and-Run, Drug Possession, and DWI

A Toms River resident was tracked down by police after witnesses apparently saw the man's late-model Toyota drive away from a car accident along a portion of Rte 37 early on a Monday morning. According to news reports, township patrolmen arrived at the scene of the crash, which took place at the intersection of Rte 37 and Garfield Ave. By the time officers had gotten to the accident site, the hit-and-run driver was already gone. The 6:30am wreck involved a Ford Explorer driven by a Bayville man, who was stopped at a red light when the impact occurred.

With the assistance of a witness to the incident, police searched for the hit-and-run driver, who was found shortly thereafter. Based on police reports, the man had apparently hit another vehicle as he fled the earlier crash scene. That collision took place near the intersection of Garfield and Delaware Ave., in the area of East Dover. Eventually, police were able to pull the man over near Fischer Blvd. and Windsor Ave., after which it was determined that the 31-year-old local resident was allegedly intoxicated behind the wheel.

As a result, the suspect was arrested and eventually charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. The man was also reportedly charged with criminal possession of the drug Suboxone, for which he did not have a prescription. As Garden State DWI and drug DUI lawyers, my legal team has handled numerous cases involving drug DUI and possession. This particular instance is certainly a more complicated situation considering the two hit-and-runs.

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March 24, 2014

Somerset County DWI News: Local Woman Gets DWI Following 3-Car Crash in Bernards Twp.

As in many parts of the Garden State, police patrols in Somerset County, NJ, are always active on city streets, undivided highways and high-speed interstates. Whether one travels to and from work or school, going shopping or simply taking a driving vacation to the Jersey Shore for some needed R & R, the odds of coming into contact with a New Jersey State Police trooper or a local patrolman are usually quite high. As DWI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I have met dozens of average people who never thought they would ever be charged with a serious traffic offense, much less be arrested for drinking and driving.

Yet, every week, scores of Jersey residents and out-of-state drivers get pulled over for some minor infraction, opening themselves up to additional scrutiny from a law enforcement officer. A percentage of these individuals will be unlucky enough to have had something to drink in the hours prior to that traffic stop. Unfortunately, many of them will be taken into custody and charged with some kind of impaired driving offense. More and more, this group includes individuals who may be carrying some kind of illicit drug on their person, which can complicate matters when the time comes for court appearance.

Still others find themselves involved in a roadway collision. It's no secret that drinking and driving only increases the chances of a motorist being involved in a single- or multiple-car accident. If alcohol or drugs were involved, the ante is raised sufficiently to make speaking with a qualified DWI-DUI defense attorney not only a good idea, but almost a necessity. Being experienced trial lawyers, we understand that accidents do happen. And while we do not condone drinking and driving, we also know that some people accused of DWI-related collisions may not have been legally drunk at the time of the wreck.

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March 22, 2014

NJ Drunk Driving Defense Update: What Constitutes a Valid DWI Arrest?

We've discussed in prior postings the factors that lead to, and possibly precipitate, a drunken driving traffic stop. In actuality, the phrase DWI police stop is somewhat of a misnomer since a patrolman cannot, by law, base a traffic stop solely on a hunch or assumption that a motorist is intoxicated by alcohol or impaired by prescription drugs or some other controlled dangerous substance (CDS). On the contrary, an officer must have a valid and articulable reason -- such as a moving violation or vehicle-related infraction -- in order to legitimately pull a driver over. That aside, however, a traffic stop that develops into a DWI arrest involves a number of steps before drunk driving charges are pressed against a driver.

As experienced New Jersey trial attorneys with in-depth knowledge of drunk driving and drug DUI case law, our training and courtroom skill allow us to represent many individuals who have been accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. As DWI lawyers, we often explain to potential clients that it is important to understand the basic factors that make up a good prosecutorial case for DWI or drug DUI; because, when it comes to arresting and charging a driver for intoxicated driving, the evidence collected at the time of the offense can make or break the state's case.

Whether or not a DWI-DUI arrest is viewed by a judge as having been carried out properly depends on the totality of facts presented by the state when pursuing a conviction following a drunk driving stop and arrest. First and foremost, there needs to be actual evidence of inebriation or impairment, regardless of the type of charge, be it a DWI based on alcohol consumption, or a drug DUI due use of prescription medications, smoking of marijuana, or use of some other illegal substance. The degree of intoxication must also have been sufficient for the court to conclude that the driver was impaired to the point of being unable to safely operate his or her vehicle.

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March 20, 2014

New Jersey Drug DUI Update: Intoxicated Driving Arrests Involving Marijuana Likely to Rise Over Time

With the legalization of medicinal marijuana already a reality in the Garden State, the use of pot to treat certain medical conditions opened up renewed concerns among law enforcement and traffic safety advocates. A great deal of the apprehension on the part of anti-marijuana advocates is the potential for an increase in cannabis-related traffic accidents. For now, the perceived threat is still somewhat low; however, with the increasing likelihood for eventual legalization of recreational marijuana, the worry in some sectors of the public, as well as our political leadership, is that weed will hit the mainstream sooner rather than later.

As a New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense law firm, my legal staff understands how the potential future legalization of marijuana could have a serious impact on DUI enforcement. Never mind the possible benefits of bringing a much maligned illegal substance like pot to the same level as alcohol; many law enforcement experts suggest that the inherent dangers of "driving while high" could be just as bad or worse than DWI. That, of course, remains to be seen; in the meantime, however, possession of even a small amount of weed in a motor vehicle can result in some significant penalties.

New Jersey's legal statutes currently specify that the use of marijuana (under most any circumstances) is grounds for arrest. Being impaired by this currently controlled dangerous substance (CDS) while operating a motor vehicle is most definitely a chargeable offense; yet, many drivers arrested for possession in a motor vehicle don't realize that simply having pot on one's person while driving a car in New Jersey could mean the loss of driving privileges, as well as stiff fines. State law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1) specifically prohibits any person from operating a motor vehicle while knowingly in possession of marijuana, it's just that simple.

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March 18, 2014

Hackensack Prosecutor Drops Serious Charges against Bergen County Woman Originally Suspected of Fatal DWI Accident

Last week, the Hackensack Municipal prosecutor's office dropped two key summonses previously lodged against a River Vale resident who was initially under suspicion of impaired driving after her vehicle struck and killed a well-known local business man last fall. According to news articles, the prosecution essentially cleared 63-year-old Kathleen Gehm of any wrongdoing in the tragic auto-pedestrian collision that resulted in the death of 87-year-old Jerome Some on the evening of October 8.

Based on court records, the DWI and reckless driving charges were dropped by Frank Catania Jr., municipal prosecutor for the city of Hackensack. The motion to dismiss, which was just recently filed, came months after the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office decided not to pursue criminal charges against Ms. Gehm following a negative toxicology report on blood taken from her after the deadly traffic accident. Those toxicology results were returned from the lab last December.

According to news reports, Gehm's lawyer stated that at the time of the incident his client was "extremely shaken up" and freezing as she stood in the cold evening air in sandals. This information was part of the defense's argument to the court as to why the woman allegedly failed two field sobriety tests requested of her by police officers at the scene of the crash. As a result of those failed tests, police asked the woman to take a breath test, to which she did consent in hopes of clearing herself of a DWI charge.

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March 16, 2014

Garden State DWI-DUI News: Multiple DWIs in the Same Week for Monmouth County Resident

Here in the Garden State, cases involving motorists who have been charged with DWI can be prosecuted in several ways. One of the more common approaches used by municipal prosecutors includes charges of driving under the influence based on a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. This type of case involves what is known in legal circles as a "per se" charge. As a well-established legal firm, my colleagues and I have nearly 100 years of collective trial law experience, including drunk driving and drug DUI defense of cases base on per se evidence.

In situations of drivers being charged for operating a motor vehicle while impaired based on a BAC measurement of 0.08 percent or above, those per se DWI charges refer to the legal definition, that is, the driver's actions were inherently illegal. The New Jersey legal statutes essentially make driving with any BAC over the 0.08-percent limit an unlawful act. The per se aspect essentially says that the circumstances surrounding how or why the driver became intoxicated is not relevant to the prosecution of the offense.

Because per se DWI charges do not require extrinsic proof of any surrounding circumstances, it is much easier to prosecute a driver based solely on measurement of blood-alcohol content than other more subjective evidence, such as results from a roadside sobriety field test, etc. Drunk driving, from a per se standpoint, is essentially a chargeable offense made so by New Jersey statute. This is not exclusive to New Jersey, as many other states also have laws that make driving with a certain level of alcohol in one's system illegal per se.

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March 13, 2014

Somerset County DWI News: North Plainfield PD Officer Admits to 2013 Drunk Driving Incident

Many hundreds of Garden State drivers are pulled over every month by police officers, during which a certain percentage of those individuals are accused of driving while under the influence of alcohol. Although a fair number of motorists are routinely convicted of DWI or drug DUI, there are many defendants who avoid a guilty verdict, as well as the stiff monetary penalties that come with it. Law enforcement officers certainly have a difficult and many times dangers job to perform, but they are not always correct in their assessment of some supposedly drunken drivers.

As experienced New Jersey trial attorneys, my colleagues and I have great respect for our men and women in uniform. But there are instances when we must stand back and consider the occasional downside that comes with the great authority that we give our municipal patrolmen and state troopers. It is because law enforcement officials have such power -- to arrest and charge citizens with driving offenses and more egregious crimes -- that we must hold them to a higher standard, understanding at the same time the challenging nature of their position.

In particular, as DWI defense lawyers, we find it hard to accept the illegal behavior of some policemen when it comes to drinking and driving. From our standpoint, having defended hundreds of motorists against charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), it is unconscionable when a patrolman violates the very laws that he or she is responsible to enforce. Quite simply, there is never a good excuse for a law enforcement officer to be arrested for drinking and driving, yet this can and does happen from time to time.

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March 10, 2014

New Jersey Drunk Driving Arrests Net Motorists in Morris, Hunterdon and Sussex Counties

Most motorists, when charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, usually experience trepidation when facing an upcoming hearing to decide their guilt or innocence. Entering a courtroom without a firm knowledge of the law pertaining to DWI or drug DUI can be a misstep for many people, which can often lead to a conviction and all the associated fines, fees and assessments as provided by New Jersey's drunk driving statutes.

As Garden State drunken driving defense attorneys, my staff of skilled trial lawyers understands how the state's case -- as pursued by many municipal prosecutors -- can turn on the lack of evidence collected by the police during a DWI or DUI traffic stop. While some motorists may understand how the law works, many more can be at some disadvantage when they face a judge alone as the prosecuting attorney brings point after point in support of a guilty verdict.

As a former municipal prosecutor myself, I have worked on the other side of the aisle as advocate for the state. This background, which I share with several other members of my law firm, gives me additional insight into numerous strategies and legal tactics that the state may employ to obtain a drunk driving conviction. Of course, much of what counts as evidence in a DWI or drug DUI case is attained by police at the roadside, as well as back at police headquarters.

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