July 25, 2014

Arrested in New Jersey for Drug DUI: Could One's Fate Hinge on a DRE's Testimony?

Every day, dozens of drivers all around the Garden State find themselves in the unenviable position of being arrested and later charged with impaired driving. While the safety of our roadways is everyone's concern, as Monmouth County trial lawyers working in the area of DWI and drug DUI law, we understand how innocent individuals can occasionally be accused of offenses they believe they did not commit. One type of traffic-related offense that happens quite often in our state is that of impaired driving resulting from the use or abuse of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS).

Under New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50[a]), motorists can be arrested for operating a car, truck or motorcycle if a police officer believes that the individual is under the influence of a hallucinogenic, narcotic, or habit-producing substance. Unlike drunken driving, which can be quantified by measuring an individual's blood-alcohol concentration (or BAC), a charge of drug DUI should usually be supported by the opinion of an expert in the field of drugs and medicines that have the ability to cause impairment.

While the requirements affecting a drug DUI arrest have been somewhat relaxed while the topic is being argued on appeal in the New Jersey court system, the issue of who can and should determine a driver's impairment is all the more important to those facing charges of driving under the influence of an illegal substance, or even a doctor-prescribed medication.

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July 23, 2014

Monmouth County DWI News: State Police to Watch for Intoxicated Toby Keith Fans this Friday

While country music star Toby Keith is playing the PNC Bank Arts Center this Friday evening, the New Jersey State Police will have their own event in progress that night, waiting for intoxicated fans to stop in at a sobriety checkpoint being planned in the area. According to news reports, state troopers will be manning a DWI roadblock in the along a stretch of the Garden State Parkway starting early during the concert and thereafter.

We mention this because here in New Jersey motorists often run across late-night sobriety roadblocks erected by state and local police agencies in order to catch potentially drunk or otherwise impaired individuals. This is in addition to the typical saturation patrols that can take place at certain times of the year when the incidence of drunken driving is known to be higher.

As New Jersey drunk driving defense attorneys, my legal staff knows how easily someone can be caught in a situation where an evening of fun can turn into a legal nightmare. Just a drink or two during an event such as a music concert or sporting event can result in some level of alcohol in one's bloodstream, which if high enough can result in DWI charges.

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July 20, 2014

Manchester Resident Convicted of DWI, Vehicular Manslaughter Four Years After Fatal Ocean County Car Accident

A little over a week ago a New Jersey driver was convicted in an Ocean County courtroom of drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter in a fatal 2010 DWI-related traffic accident that left an Ocean Gate police officer dead. According to news reports, the jury deliberated less than one hour before rendering a guilty verdict in the case of Erick Uzcategui, whose vehicle struck an SUV driven by off-duty police officer, Jason Marles. As a result of the jury's decision, the 34-year-old Manchester, NJ, resident faces a prison term of between five and 10 years.

The crash that led to the arrest and eventual conviction of the driver, reportedly took place on Thanksgiving back in 2010. At the time, according to court records, the defendant was operating his BMW sport utility vehicle along a section of the Garden State Parkway when he apparently lost control of the vehicle and slammed into the back of Officer Marles' Jeep Grand Cherokee. The force of the impact cause the policeman's vehicle to spin and subsequently crash through a nearby guardrail, after which the vehicle rolled and caught fire.

Based on news articles, the police believed the driver of the BMW to have been impaired due to alcohol consumption and possibly drug use involving cocaine and a steroid known as Oxandrolone. As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, we noted that the outcome of this case came after a rather extended period of time. Almost four years after the initial incident, many people were likely frustrated by the slow pace of the case; with blame settling squarely on the defendant's lawyers for an unhurried approach to defending their client.

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July 12, 2014

New Jersey Teens Playing with Fire? Underage Drinking/DWI can have Long-term Implications

One of the many questions we get from prospective clients comes actually from the parents of teenagers who are facing charges of underage DWI. The first thing we explain to the adults is that leaving the outcome to chance is never a good idea. While the individuals involved in such court cases may still be children, flirting with a drunk driving conviction at such a young age is certainly not kid stuff.

As New Jersey drunk driving attorneys, the legal staff at my law firm understands that kids may be kids, but being on the hook for a drinking and driving offense is no time to leave a case of underage DWI to an inexperienced lawyer. Our skilled attorneys have nearly 100 years of combined litigation experience. We know the implications of any DWI or drug DUI conviction and we are ready to offer recommendations to those motorists who seek our counsel.

In the area of underage drinking and underage DWI, we understand that parents are often frustrated by the choices that some of their children make, especially as they are quickly approaching adulthood. Quite frankly, we can appreciate that it is a full-time job these days just keeping some kids on the "straight and narrow" path. The irony is that many parents committed similar transgressions in their youth, which can sometimes result in them being even more strict when setting boundaries for their own children.

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July 9, 2014

New Jersey Motorcyclist Injured in Toms River Collision Gets DWI Plus Several Drug-related Charges

As a long-standing drunk driving defense law firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have been helping motorists fight intoxicated driving and drug impairment charges for many years. If there is anything that my colleagues and I have learned during this time, it's to never underestimate the role that fate can play in one's life. We were reminded of this just a few days back when we ran across a news article about a motorcycle rider who started his evening as the victim of an automobile accident headed to the hospital and ended as the recipient of a DWI summons, as well as more serious charges of CDS possession.

Before we describe the incident, it is important to mention that police allegedly found more than 100 bags of heroin either on the motorcycle rider's person or loaded onto his bike. In either case, being charged with heroin possession and/or distribution should not be taken lightly. As criminal attorneys, as well as drunken driving lawyers, my legal team is well aware that a conviction for heroin possession/distribution comes with very harsh penalties under New Jersey law.

In fact, possession of ANY amount of heroin, which is defined as a controlled and dangerous substance (CDS), is guilty a third degree criminal offense with possible jail time of up to five years. The fine for a conviction of Third Degree Heroin Possession, at upward of $35,000, makes the fines and statutory assessments for drinking and driving seem like a drop in the bucket. Needless to say, this is a very serious offense to be hit with.

Continue reading "New Jersey Motorcyclist Injured in Toms River Collision Gets DWI Plus Several Drug-related Charges" »

July 6, 2014

Alleged Drunk Driving Accident in Burlington County Leads to Driver's Arrest for DWI, Drug Possession

We won't mince words here, because we know that being arrested for drunken driving (DWI) or drug impairment (drug DUI) in the Garden State cannot only be an unnerving and embarrassing experience, it can end up being a costly and burdensome event in one's life. In fact, while some people may think that the worst is maybe several hundred dollars in fines, estimates regarding the long-term cost of a single DWI-DUI conviction show the cost more in the thousands of dollars.

When a person realizes that a conviction for driving under the influence can have that sort of financial impact, they almost don't see the additional downside to having something like a DWI or drug DUI on their record. Negatives such as the loss of driving privileges for months at a time, having to hitch rides with friends and family to go anywhere during their license suspension, the possibility of being required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed once their license has been reinstated, and even jail time. It goes without saying that any one of these on its own could have a serious impact on one's life and livelihood.

As New Jersey drunk driving defense attorneys, my legal team has been defending motorists accused of impaired driving for many years. We understand our clients' concerns and we work hard to fight for your rights in court. It's true that many people who have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs might not have much hope of good outcome in court, we know from experience that receiving a DWI or DUI summons is not the end of the world, but it certainly needs professional attention.

Continue reading "Alleged Drunk Driving Accident in Burlington County Leads to Driver's Arrest for DWI, Drug Possession" »

July 4, 2014

Somerset County Anti-DWI Police Activities in Full-force this July Fourth Weekend

Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in the Garden State is dangerous for everybody, but it could be that much more risky -- at least from a legal standpoint -- due to the fact that drunk driving enforcement is a priority for the July Fourth holiday already in progress. Whether one travels though counties such as Sussex, Union, Mercer or Atlantic, or any other part of New Jersey, our highways, interstates, parkways and surface streets are currently experiencing greater than normal vehicular traffic; similarly, police DWI-DUI patrols are also increased for this long holiday weekend.

As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, my colleagues and I fully understand the serious nature of any drunk driving or drug-related DUI arrest. Not even considering the possibility of a conviction for drunk or drugged driving, simply the stigma of being charged with driving under the influence can cause strife in a marriage, alienate one from friends and relatives, and even affect a person's standing at work or in the community.

As experienced DWI lawyers, my legal team is ready, willing and able to fight for the rights of individuals who have been accused of impaired driving. We do so, not only because we believe in the law and our American legal system, but also because some arrests are faulty and can be proved so. During this time of the year, especially, drunken driving offenses are logged all across the Garden State. Much of the activity during weekends like the Fourth of July can be attributed to anti-DWI campaigns, which can include an increase in the frequency of roadside sobriety checkpoints as well as high-saturation DWI-DUI police patrols.

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July 1, 2014

Accused of Drugged Driving in New Jersey? It's just as Serious as a DWI Offense

Although being charged with drinking while intoxicated by alcohol is a very serious traffic offense, there are other activities that can get Garden State motorists in hot water rather quickly as well. The term impaired driving is often used as a catch-all for any number of offenses, such as DWI and DUI, but with the advent of cell phones, smartphones and even iPads and other portable tablets, being distracted while driving may soon be just another version of being impaired.

When it comes to the more traditional forms of impaired driving, the drug-related kind (or drug DUI) combines not only the charge of being impaired behind the wheel, but also the use and/or possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Overall, it goes without saying that driving under the influence of drugs is at least on a par with DWI in the eyes of traffic enforcement officers.

By law, specifically N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a), any individual can be arrested for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by a hallucinogenic, narcotic or habit producing drug. Proof of impairment or intoxication due to CDS use is generally provided in the form of an expert opinion, however this requirement is currently relaxed during the ongoing appeals process in our state's judicial system.

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June 29, 2014

For Some Garden State Drivers, a DWI Arrest is Just One Driving Error Away

It goes without saying that many average motorists can become pretty rattled when a highway patrolman or even a local police officer pulls them over for a traffic offense. Because most people have little, if any, contact with law enforcement professionals in their daily lives, being confronted by any cop for an alleged moving violation can be a nerve-racking experience. As experienced New Jersey trial attorneys, my colleagues and I know very well how even the most minor of police stops can leave a driver trembling and second-guessing themselves.

Now, add the potential of intoxicated driving to the mix and you have a serious situation. The can be especially true when a motorist has just been at a restaurant or is returning home from visiting a party with friends or family. If any alcohol was consumed, there is always a possibility that the officer in charge may suspect the driver of DWI. When a state trooper or municipal patrolman asks for the details of one's evening, having a couple drinks can turn a simple traffic summons in to a full-blown drunken driving arrest.

Leading up to an arrest, many times the police will request a motorist exit the vehicle to perform one or more of the standardized field sobriety tests, which may not always indicate correctly whether a person is impaired or not, but which is often relied upon when a policeman decides whether or not to make an arrest. Being nervous will quite often make the situation worse for a potential arrestee, since fumbling for documents and having a less-than-smooth vocal delivery can influence the outcome of a DWI stop.

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June 26, 2014

Morris County Police Blotter: DWI Accident Leads to DWI; Other Alleged Drunk Drivers Arrested

A driver from the Dover area was recently taken into custody by officers from the Randolph Township Police Department after an investigation revealed that the driver may have been intoxicated at the time of the wreck. According to reports, patrolmen responded to a car accident along a stretch of Everdale Rd. earlier in the year when the suspect's car plowed through a snow bank and hit a tree. The crash, as reported in a more recent news article, took place on March 22.

Based on information from the Randolph PD, one of the officers responding to the apparent single-vehicle crash noted that the driver allegedly had a "strong smell" of alcohol on his breath at the scene of the collision. Apparently, it was decided to charge the individual on several counts, including driving under the influence of alcohol (or DUI) and refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test, as well as reckless driving. There was no mention of a court date.

In another instance of alleged drunken driving, a resident of Rockaway, NJ, was stopped by local police after police received word of a motorist operating a motor vehicle in an erratic fashion, and allegedly almost striking a pedestrian in the process. Based on police reports, a 49-year-old local man was operating his vehicle in the mid-afternoon on school property, specifically the Morris Hills High School parking lot.

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June 22, 2014

New Jersey DWI News: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Jump Into Ignition Interlock Fray

Poised to testify in Trenton before the State Legislature's Assembly Appropriations Committee, representatives from the anti-drunken driving group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, will state the case for pending legislation that could make ignition interlock devices (IIDs) mandatory for all convicted drivers regardless of prior convictions. The presentation by MADD is scheduled for tomorrow and is expected to echo those who have been pushing for changes to current state law to include the mandatory use of IIDs.

The proposed legislation, A 1368, which was introduced by Assemblywoman Linda Stender, would require ignition interlocks for every convicted drunk drivers, even first-offenders. While IIDs can be inconvenient and potentially embarrassing when installed on an individual's vehicle, the legislation reportedly also includes changes to the license suspension requirements for those convicted of DWI.

As Garden State drunk driving defense attorneys, my colleagues and I know very well the serious burden that New Jersey's current DWI-DUI statutes places on those individuals convicted of drunken drivers by requiring mandatory suspension of driving privileges for three months or more, depending on the number of prior convictions. Many argue that having a mandatory IID installation for every convicted offender is a small price to pay for NOT losing one's driver's license.

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June 21, 2014

Out-of-State Driver Pleads Guilty to Vehicular Homicide after Fatal Warren County DWI Crash

When it comes to out-of-state drivers who are arrested for DWI or drug DUI here in New Jersey, it is important to remember that New Jersey and almost every other state in the nation participates in what is known as the "Driver License Compact," or DLC for short. Briefly, the DLC is an agreement between 45 individual states and the District of Columbia, which allows the non-resident state to report any traffic-related conviction to the administrative division of the offending driver's home state. In short, if one's home state has a statute or equivalent law for an offense committed here in New Jersey, it will be treated as if the violation took place in the state where the driver resides.

A related agreement, known as the "Non-resident Violator Compact," is observed by 44 participating states, which in essence safeguards the rights and privileges of non-resident drivers when operating a motor vehicle outside of their home state. For example, when a Garden State motorist is driving in a participating state, this interstate agreement ensures that the driver will have the same rights as the resident drivers of that state if he or she is arrested for drunken driving, drug DUI or other related impaired driving offense.

Under the non-resident agreement, if a motorist is charged with a traffic offense or other serious moving violation, he or she has the protection of due process. This also means that a New Jersey driver must comply with the terms of the member state's traffic citation as ordered by that non-resident state, and any failure to comply can result in license suspension here in the one's own state.

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June 17, 2014

Mandatory Ignition Interlock Devices: Are They Really that Burdensome for Convicted Drunken Drivers?

Arguments for and against mandatory ignition interlock devices, or IIDs as they are sometimes called, have been going on for years. Whether these devices, or the threat of having them installed on one's car or truck, can be beneficial to public safety; or even if they provide sufficient deterrent against repeat DWIs is certainly a subject that has fueled hot debate in the area of drunk driving law. As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense lawyers, we can understand both sides of the argument.

But even as the question of effectiveness lingers regarding the use of court-ordered ignition interlock devices, a future where the law requires every motorist convicted of DWI in the Garden State to have an IID installed has made for lively discussion. In fact, just like New Jersey, many states have already adopted IIDs as a way to combat recidivist DWIs. The approach to making them mandatory for first-time offenders has also taken hold.

For anyone still unaware of what the use of these devices is supposed to accomplish, the goal is to stop newly convicted drunk drivers from taking the road in an intoxicated state by making sure that a person who has consumed alcohol recently cannot start his or her car. To do this, and IID features a handheld breath-alcohol tester tied to an electronic control unit that either allows the vehicle to be started or prevents ignition based on a predetermined blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold.

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June 14, 2014

Jersey Shore DWI News: Drunk Driving Patrols on the Rise as Summer Quickly Approaches

Most every adult here in the Garden State who drives a car has noticed over the years that police traffic enforcement generally ramps up as the weather gets warmer and the vacationers start a migration to the famous Jersey Shore. While the spring and summer revelry is always a welcome change from the freezing temperatures of winter, some changes are not always that pleasant. In particular the opportunity for traffic citations and, occasionally, an alcohol or drug-related arrest.

As New Jersey drunk driving attorneys, we receive a number of questions from friends and acquaintances, as well as potential clients, regarding the legitimacy of certain kinds of drunk driving enforcement; namely, the random erection of late-night drunk driving roadblocks, also known as sobriety checkpoints. Depending on where you live, the frequency of these "tools" of law enforcement can rise or fall based on the time of year of the funding available to staff them.

One of the many questions we get is whether or not sobriety checkpoints are legal in New Jersey, or if they are even constitutionally allowed. When asked, we must tell people that, in fact, DWI checkpoints are legal, both on a state and federal level. From a constitutional standpoint, the issue of police roadblocks was addressed in successive cases starting back in 1979, when the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Delaware v. Prouse.

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June 14, 2014

Debate Continues Over Potential Criminality of Trucking Accident that Injured Actor-Comedian Tracy Morgan

While a charge of drinking and driving is one of the more serious traffic-related offenses for a Garden State motorist to receive, there are other types of "impaired" driving that can be just as serious when it comes to accidents resulting in injury or death. The New Jersey court system is no stranger to personal injury lawsuits arising from impaired driving; and for years now, law enforcement, state legislators and numerous traffic safety advocates have warned about the effects of cellphone use and distracted driving, not to mention drowsy driving.

The recent news coverage of the fatal multi-vehicle crash involving a limousine carrying well-known comedian and NBC "30 Rock" television star, Tracy Morgan, has ramped up debate regarding serious and fatal traffic collisions caused by motorists who are simply too tired to drive. As with intoxicated driving, drowsy driving can be deadly; however, the proof of whether a driver was too fatigued to properly operate his or her motor vehicle may be more difficult to come by than that involved in drunken driving cases.

Nevertheless, this latest high-profile news story has brought the issue of drowsy driving to the fore, with Walmart employee, Kevin Roper, in the spotlight and facing serious charges, including that of vehicular homicide and assault by auto following the death of comedian James McNair. The crash, as many people already know, took place last Saturday along a portion of the New Jersey Turnpike in Middlesex County. Mr. Roper, 35, has since entered a plea of not guilty across the board, though the case has much farther to go.

Continue reading "Debate Continues Over Potential Criminality of Trucking Accident that Injured Actor-Comedian Tracy Morgan" »