Don't Complicate a Garden State DWI Case by Combining Drunk Driving with a Traffic Accident

May 2, 2013

Of course, it's easy to suggest after the fact that a defendant should or shouldn't have done this or that prior to or during a DWI arrest. And to suggest that anyone reading this right now will later be going out to willfully drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs would simply be unfair. However, in this world of "would-a, should-a, could-a," we might be remiss if we didn't say that getting caught up in a traffic accident -- even a minor fender-bender -- while impaired by drugs or alcohol could possibly complicate a person's defense.

As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, I and my staff of experienced trial lawyers are constantly approached by potential clients looking for help after being accused of driving while intoxicated. The answers are not always simple, but the causes for drunken driving arrests can usually be traced to one of many seemingly minor moving violations that open the door to a full-blown DWI arrest.

Now, we can think of dozens of examples of Jersey motorists who have added a reckless driving or vehicular assault charge to what is already a potentially costly drunken driving offense. As we've said many times before, there is no reason to complicate one's life -- much less one's defense against a drunk driving accusation -- by getting into a car accident while possibly inebriated at the time. And trust us, even one or two drinks prior to a traffic stop may be all it takes to get slapped with a drunk driving summons in this state.

Trite as this may sound, the best defense against a charge of DWI or DUI is not to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle if one has had anything to drink. This goes the same for individuals who may be taking one or more of various medications to treat a physical ailment(s). Not only can doctor-prescribed medications affect a person's ability to operate a car, truck or motorcycle, but over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can have deleterious effects as well. If a motorist is found to have been impaired by a prescription drug or OTC medicine, a charge of drug DUI may be forthcoming.

Despite the added hurdles the come from drunk driving-related traffic accidents, the news is full of reports of single- and multiple-vehicle accidents allegedly brought on by drinking and driving or through the use of legal and illegal drugs. Take one example from earlier this year in which a New Jersey driver was involved in a minor crash, but who then apparently decided to flee Toms River police.

According to the news article, a 25-year-old driver in a Chevy Camaro was involved in a reportedly minor Ocean County fender-bender on a Sunday evening a little after 6pm. Based on information from police, initial incident happened near the intersection of Hooper and College Dr. but before officers arrived the man had driven away from the scene. When officers caught up to the suspect, near Fischer and Overbrook, the suspect's Chevy had struck a curb and was stopped.

As officers approached the Camaro, the driver reportedly fled from the police southbound along Fischer St. Hitting a second curb near East Dover Shopping Center, he reportedly continued until his vehicle struck one final curb, which caused the driver-side front airbag to deploy ending the pursuit, according to police. The driver was arrested, taken into custody, and eventually charged with multiple offenses including drunken driving and eluding police.

In a second incident, this one over in New York, a New Jersey driver was arrested for DWI after police responded to a single-vehicle rollover crash on Rte 9W. Arriving on the scene, officers stated that they quickly determined the driver to be intoxicated by alcohol. After bringing the 47-year-old Bergen County woman in to headquarters, officers charged the driver with DWI as well as drug DUI and a number of other traffic-related offenses.


Man Leads Toms River Police on Pursuit, is Arrested for DWI; Patch.com; February 24, 2013

New Jersey Woman Rolls Over Car, Accused of Drunk Driving; RocklandTimes.com; January 3, 2013