Caught Driving Drunk in New Jersey? Find the Right Attorney to Defend Your Rights

February 16, 2013

Over the many years that my legal firm has been helping motorists accused of drunken driving, I and my associates have been asked more than a few times, "Why do I need a DWI lawyer when I step into a courtroom on a charge of driving while intoxicated?" The simple answer would be, "Because you owe it to yourself to be fully prepared to face the prosecution, which will do its best to prove you guilty of DWI or drug DUI." But this is only one basic reason.

It's not a secret that drivers in the Garden State face a tough situation when they are stopped on the highway after having a drink or two. It's a mistake to assume that heavy drinkers and so-called "party animals" are the only people to be arrested for drunken driving by state or local police. For many, a simple drive home after dinner with friends can sometimes lead to a traffic stop, possibly for some basic moving violation, only to escalate into a full-blown DWI arrest and a trip to police headquarters.

As drunk driving defense attorneys, I and my team of experienced trial lawyers are fully up to the task of representing individuals who have been accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor, beer, or doctor-prescribed medication. We know how scary a drunk driving arrest can be for normally law-abiding citizens. But the truly frightening thing about being arrested is that a conviction can result in serious and expensive consequences.

Unless there is an obvious problem with the state's case against an individual, the possibility of a plea bargain arrangement for defendants in DWI cases long ago was eliminated. And since the Court cannot dismiss or downgrade a charge of drunk driving or impaired operation of a vehicle due to intoxication by alcohol or drugs, the secret to avoiding a conviction (or obtaining downgrade) is to identify specific issues that will undercut the state's ability to prove the DWI offense. For this, one usually needs a skilled drunk driving defense lawyer.

The lawyers at my firm each hold legal credentials, litigating skills and DWI-specific knowledge and experience that make them tremendously valuable as legal representatives in a court of law. For myself, I worked for many years as a municipal prosecuting attorney, which gives me and my legal team the added insight into the strategies used by the state when approaching all types of DWI and DUI cases.

For evidence, the state primarily employs results from a breathalyzer machine, such as the Draeger Alcotest 7110 device, which takes a sample of a driver's breath and translates that into a blood-alcohol concentration (or BAC) measurement. There are several important standards that must be met by police officers when subjecting a motorist to a breath test, as well as attaining the final BAC evidence for use in court. Our DWI defense team has been trained in the use and maintenance of these kinds of breathalyzer devices, which allows us the ability to identify where BAC evidence may have deviated from the related legal standards.

By exploring for potential weaknesses in the state's BAC evidence against a driver accused of DWI, it is possible to call into question or even completely eliminate the prosecution's ability to prove intoxication through Alcotest readings in cases of first-time drunken driving offenses, as well as second, third and even instances of multiple offenses.

Taking away the state's most common form of evidence against a motorist means that the prosecution must rely on other, less scientific, evidence for their case against the defendant. In these types of situations, the state must refer to the officer's observations of the defendant during certain Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) and attempt to prove intoxication based on this and other less potent evidence.

Without a breath test reading, the state must rely on the so-called "psychophysical" evidence to that a driver was intoxicated at the time of his or her arrest. Even such balance and coordination related tests must be properly administered. A skilled DWI-DUI lawyer can often employ medical explanations for any failure of a motorist to satisfactorily complete one or all of these field sobriety tests. For instance, showing that an accused individual has some vision issues, chronic physical problems such as arthritis, or even a recent surgical procedure might be sufficient to call into question the validity of the officer's observations during a field sobriety test.

All of the above, and more, are reasons for retaining the counsel of an experienced drunken driving defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Marshall, we have the skills and the experience to confidently guide drivers accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence through the legal processes. Whether an arrest took place in Bergen, Middlesex, Sussex, Monmouth, Morris or Atlantic counties, our legal team has more than a century of legal experience in local New Jersey courtrooms.