It's one thing to be hit with a DWI summons when one may not realize he or she was drunk at the time of the arrest, but to actively break the law while potentially impaired by alcohol or prescription drugs (drug DUI) is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Most New Jersey police are already primed to pull over drivers who exhibit telltale signs of impairment. And while the law states that a patrolman cannot legally stop a vehicle simply on the hunch or intuition that the driver is intoxicated, officers have an eye for even the most minor of traffic infractions.
Once a police officer observes a chargeable traffic offense being committed by a motorist, the odds of being pulled over jump significantly. As soon as the officer is at the driver's side of the vehicle on the roadside, all bets are off, as any signs of impairment can cause the patrolman to investigate further. Being asked to exit one's vehicle and perform various standardized field sobriety tests can lead to an arrest if the officer in charge believes the driver to drunk. All that remains is a trip to police headquarters and a breathalyzer test to determine blood-alcohol content (BAC).
As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, I and my colleagues have decades of experience in the area of DWI and DUI law. Before stepping foot in a courtroom, or talking with anyone from the local prosecutors office, one should seriously consider talking with a qualified drunken driving defense lawyer. It may sound so basic, but many people feel that they can explain themselves to the judge. While there may be some advantage to representing oneself in court, it's a DWI attorney's job to understand the law, know the local procedures for DWI cases and protect the defendant's rights.
Sometimes a driver makes it more difficult on himself than it should be by committing other, possibly serious traffic offenses in addition to the alleged drunken driving charges. Causing an accident, injuring another person or damaging property in the course of operating their vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or impaired by drugs, legal and illegal (such as marijuana or cocaine).
An example of an arrest that may have been complicated by other offenses came to our attention the other day. According to news reports, a motorist in West Milford, NJ, crashed into a nearby property, causing a significant amount of damage, although the driver and his passenger apparently came out of the incident uninjured. Based on police reports, the incident happened a little after 3am on a Sunday morning as a 19-year-old driver allegedly attempted to demonstrate his vehicle's performance capabilities to a passenger.
Based on police reports, the teenager was behind the wheel as his vehicle reached speeds upward of 100mph as it entered a curve in the roadway, at which time the man apparently could not maintain control of the vehicle. According to news articles, the vehicle left the road, hit a mailbox, a large shrub, and a number of large stones before hitting a tree.
As a result of the crash, police stated that the driver was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. Based on those reports, the passenger apparently left the scene of the drunken driving crash, but was subsequently located and taken to the hospital for treatment of pain in his neck and back. The suspect told police that his passenger wanted to see how well the man's Volkswagen performed, but the driver did not know the area very well, according to reports, and in the end could not navigate the curve in the road at the speed his vehicle was going.
West Milford police: Man damaged plenty of property in high-speed crash; NorthJersey.com, September 10, 2012