January 10, 2014

Monmouth County DWI Defense: Exploring Various Aspects of a Typical Drunken Driving Arrest

Being stopped by a New Jersey State Police officer or local cop for a traffic offense can be unnerving enough for most people without the added concern of being arrested for DWI. As Garden State drunken driving defense lawyers, my firm is all too aware of the emotions that can come to the surface when faced with a summons for driving under the influence. Often frightening, and certainly unsettling, the experience of being taken into custody is only overshadowed by the potential financial impact that a DWI or drug DUI conviction can have on an individual or his family.

The state of New Jersey has long since banned plea bargaining as a common avenue to having a drunk driving charge dismissed or downgraded. Because of this, many people might wonder why they should even consider retaining a DWI attorney at all. First and foremost, an experienced legal expert can look for flaws in the state's case, which can range from the way the police officer conducted the traffic stop prior to the DWI arrest, to the procedures followed or skipped after the driver submitted to a breathalyzer device in order to determine his or her blood-alcohol concentration (BAC).

When asking why one should hire a lawyer for a DWI or drug DUI defense, it may be more important to ask what the secret to success is when it comes to avoiding a conviction. At the very least, someone accused of driving drunk should contact a qualified professional to determine if fighting a drunk driving summons would be fruitful or if a downgrade is possible. In our experience, identifying any potential issues that may undermine the state's ability to prove the DWI-DUI offense is a key objective when discussing a defendant's options going forward.

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January 9, 2014

Drunken Driving Defense News: Court Dismisses DWI Charges in Case against Fort Lee, NJ, Official

New Jersey news outlets reported a while back that the Fort Lee, NJ, emergency management chief had his drunken driving charges dismissed by the court after the prosecution could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the man was, in fact, drunk behind the wheel when officers stopped his vehicle in Bergen County a year ago.

As Garden State drunk driving defense lawyers, my colleagues and I could easily point to this single instance as an example of how the police can often be either wrong in their assessment of a motorist's state of inebriation or their failure to follow proper procedures when stopping, arresting and processing a suspected drunken driver. The bottom line is if you or someone you know has been charged with DWI, breath test refusal, or drug DUI, or other alcohol or drug-related traffic offenses, never assume the state has the upper hand.

In this particular case, 61-year-old Stephen Ferraro, who is the coordinator for Fort Lee's Office of Emergency Management, as well as being a former police captain, was charged with DWI following a routine traffic stop in February 2013 after officers observed the man making what was described as an unsafe lane change. Because of this, and exclusive of the drunk driving accusation, Mr. Ferraro was also charged with reckless driving.

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January 8, 2014

New Jersey DWI Update: Professional Truck Drivers Risk Everything When Driving Drunk or Drug-impaired

As Garden State DWI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I handle dozens of drunken driving cases every month. While most motorists can be severely inconvenienced by a suspension of their driver's license if found guilty of driving while intoxicated, the odds are most of them will not lose their jobs or be threatened with a loss of income due to their offense. Professional drivers, those who operate commercial vehicles, have a much greater chance of harming their careers if a court finds them guilty of DWI or drug DUI.

For this reason alone, it is incumbent on any commercial driver who is arrested and charged with drinking and driving to seek a qualified DWI-DUI attorney for his or her defense. The potential fines are not the only concern when it comes to truckers, cabbies, chauffeurs and school bus drivers who are accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The loss of a commercial driver's license (or CDL) can spell the end of a career, which could have life-changing effects.

Take the story of an out-of-state truck driver who was pulled over by Vermont police late on a Thursday afternoon. The 32-year old trucker was reportedly hauling a load of flammable material when officers observed the man's vehicle cross over the centerline four separate times. According to news reports, the officers noticed that the box truck was traveling well below the posted 50mph speed limit, which also drew the patrolmen's attention.

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January 7, 2014

Consequences of Underage Drinking and DWI in Bergen and Other New Jersey Counties

Here in the Garden State, the laws pertaining to underage drinking, as well as underage DWI, are very specific. Because New Jersey statutes clearly state that an individual cannot be younger than 21 years of age to buy, possess or drink any alcoholic beverage, underage drinking is, by definition, an illegal act. The consequences for underage consumption of alcohol can be very severe under New Jersey law, especially when the violation occurs in conjunction with the operation of a motor vehicle, which can lead to a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol if a young person is stopped by police.

Regardless of whether a young person is stopped for driving under the influence, and subsequently arrested on DWI charges, simply having an underage drinking conviction on one's record could affect an individual's future driving privileges in New Jersey. To be sure, when talking about underage drinking offenses, it is always important to consider the potential penalties attached to a conviction for underage drinking (also known as a disorderly persons offense).

For example, those individuals under 21 years of age who are arrested by a police officer for consuming alcohol -- or even purchasing an alcoholic beverage in a licensed establishment -- could receive a fine of at least $500, not to mention have his or her driver's license suspended for upward of six months. For those more egregious offenses, there are other, more severe consequences. Depending on the circumstances, an underage drinking conviction may include actual jail time (up to six months) and fines approaching $1000.

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January 5, 2014

Hefty DWI-DUI Penalties Help New Jersey and Other States Punish Drunk Driving Offenders

These days, the monetary penalties for a DWI or drug-related impaired driving offense can be quite stiff no matter what state one lives in. But here in New Jersey even a first drunken driving carries with it such a significant financial impact for most people that they don't soon forget that initial DWI arrest. As Garden State drunk driving defense lawyers, my colleagues and I have many decades of collective courtroom experience when it comes to defending New Jersey motorists accused of DWI-DUI, as well as drivers from other states.

As we've mentioned in the past, a first-time DWI offender can face upward of a $400 fine in New Jersey, depending on the results of his or her blood-alcohol content (BAC) measurement at police headquarters. We say this with the caveat that under certain circumstances a skilled attorney can sometimes get the court to suppress the breath test results, which may then help to mitigate these first-offender penalties.

It is important to note that if one were to up the ante by having a BAC measurement of 0.15 percent, the court will have no other choice than to include the requirement of an ignition interlock device following the license suspension period for those convicted of driving under the influence. These interlock devices also come with their own costs, which make their mandatory use in such cases expensive as well as inconvenient and, at times, embarrassing. To say the least, New Jersey has some of the more harsh DWI and DUI penalties, but drivers in all nearby states should consider carefully the potential downside of a DWI arrest.

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January 3, 2014

Poor Vehicle Maintenance Can Bring New Jersey Drivers that Much Closer to a DWI Arrest

Beware the ever-present danger of being pulled over for a simple vehicle equipment violation, as it could possibly open the door to an even more costly drunk driving arrest. This may sound like an odd warning, but as professional DWI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I are well aware of the number of individuals who have been charged with drunk driving following a traffic stop for vehicle infractions as basic as a burned out taillight.

The fact of the matter is that not replacing a simple $10 light bulb can in some cases lead to hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines, fees and auto insurance premium increases. Unfortunately, by the time many drivers realize their vehicle may have a problem, a police stop is already well underway. And, if the driver has had some beer, wine, or a mixed drink recently, then there is a good chance that a DWI summons may be on the way, along with that inevitable vehicle equipment violation.

As New Jersey drunken driving defense attorneys, we know how human nature can affect the outcome of many aspects of life, not to mention traffic stops and drunken driving arrests. My law firm has represented dozens upon dozens of drivers who may or may not have indulged themselves to excess prior to getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. And, it's difficult to predict how a certain amount of alcohol is going to affect any one person.

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December 31, 2013

Ocean County Sobriety Roadblock Nets Police Handful of Intoxicated New Jersey Motorists

Considering the volume of DWI and DUI arrests that are carried out every month in the Garden State, most every drunk driving defense attorney has likely represented at least a few clients who have been charged with driving while impaired after running afoul of the police at a local DWI checkpoint. Most months, all around the state, one might expect a certain number of these DUI roadblocks in operation on the weekends and during high-traffic holidays. This makes it all the more certain that, over time, more motorists will be arrested at one of the late-night roadblocks and hit with a DWI summons.

The fact that state and local law enforcement agencies are legally obliged to make public the locations and operating times of these so-called sobriety checkpoints could lead many people to assume that it is relatively easy to avoid being stopped at one of these roadblocks, whether one is driving with some amount of alcohol in one's system or not; however, it is also very easy to overlook the relatively brief announcements that appear prior to the erection of a DWI-DUI checkpoint.

According to New Jersey legal statutes, the police are limited as to the locations and operation of a sobriety roadblock. Quite simply, the authorities cannot place a checkpoint anywhere they choose; it must be located in an area that has a demonstrated history of prior incidents of drunken driving.

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December 29, 2013

Toms River Driver Accused of DWI after Single-vehicle Ocean County Car Crash

Being stopped for a minor traffic violation by a New Jersey state trooper or local patrolman may not seem too serious to some people, unless the motorist in question has taken a drink in the recent past. Seeing as driving drunk is looked upon with much disdain here in the Garden State, it is not difficult to understand how a normally upstanding citizen can find him or herself in relatively hot water if alcohol is mixed with the operation of a motor vehicle.

Whether a driving infraction takes place in Sussex, Bergen, Monmouth or Hudson County, there is really no difference in the penalties that most any driver will likely face if convicted of driving under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor. And, for those individuals who hardly ever touch alcohol, keep in mind that even doctor-prescribed medications can have a deleterious effect on one's ability to pilot a car, truck or motorcycle. Even teetotalers have been known to be accused of impaired driving due to the effects of one or more prescription medicines.

Seriously, the powers that be in almost every corner of the state have no tolerance for people who slide behind the wheel of a vehicle in an inebriated state. Anyone who believed that all those public service announcements about DWI and drug DUI are simply PR hype, it's best to think again. Quite frankly, with all the emphasis on drunken driving enforcement during the holidays, as well as other times of the year, it's difficult to imagine that there are still drivers who take the chance of bine arrested for DWI or DUI, but it does happen with extreme regularity.

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December 27, 2013

Rutgers University Freshman Suspended from Football Team after DWI on Campus

Here in New Jersey, as with the other 49 states, the minimum drinking age is 21 years. While rather unlikely, this restriction can sometimes be confused with the minimum age at which tobacco products can be purchased, which is 19 years old. Regardless, there are many people who argue that U.S. citizens who are old enough to vote and even join the military should at least be accorded the right to purchase and consume alcohol at a an age younger than 21 years.

In the Garden State, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, as well as the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey formed what is known as the "NJ21 Coalition," which is made up of representative groups from government, law enforcement and education, as well as non-profit agencies who are all opposed to any suggestion of reducing the state's minimum drinking age.

Those opposed to lowering the minimum drinking age often point to 1980, when the state's minimum legal drinking age was bumped up to 19. Preceding that legislative move, annual drunken driving fatalities among young people 18 to 20 years of age was at an all-time high of 88. Then, in 1983, the drinking age was raised once again to the current 21-year limit; the annual death rate among that same segment of the population dropped again, this time to 45.

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December 25, 2013

High School Penalizes Teen Who Showed Up at Underage Drinking Party to be Designated Driver

One often hears how bad things are in New Jersey for those individuals who find themselves in receipt of a summons for drunken driving, breath test refusal or any of a number of impaired driving charges. The fact is that the clock will likely never be turned back to the old days of a nod and a wink; when drunken motorists received a fine and maybe spent the night in jail, but mostly to sober up in order to head to work in the following morning. That was then, but this is now.

Safety advocates and anti-drunk driving groups continue to keep the pressure on federal, state and local governments and police agencies to rein in bad drivers and arrest those who operate their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs. The Garden State is one of the states with rather stiff penalties for those convicted of driving while intoxicated, but that's not to say there aren't others with similarly strict laws and attitudes.

And legal statutes aside, society itself is less and less tolerant of those who drink and drive. But there are instances that cause one to take a step back and consider the issues at play. There was an incident that took place over in the Boston area not long ago, which illustrates that one situation where a high school's policy regarding underage drinking affected one apparently conscientious teenager in a very negative way.

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December 23, 2013

Ocean County Man Arrested by Manchester Twp. Police, Charged with Marijuana Possession and Weapons

Depending on the type of DWI or drug DUI offense, the evidence against a motorist can portend some stiff penalties, in terms of fines, fees and assessments, as well as possible jail time. Regardless of the ultimate charges, it is safe to say that most every impaired driving arrest sometimes starts with a simple mistake made by a driver in the presence of a police officer. This can happen in small towns, larger cities or on the parkway or interstate.

No one can say what basic traffic law may be breached in order for a municipal cop or state trooper to effect a roadside stop, but once it does happen, all bets are off. Any evidence discovered during the ensuing traffic stop will likely be used by the prosecution in an effort to obtain a guilty verdict later in court. As Garden State DWI defense attorneys, my legal team is ready and willing to offer its expertise to those driver accused of drunken driving or drug-impaired motor vehicle operation.

Aside from DWI or DUI, other charges -- either tied to an impaired driving charge or arising from the initial traffic stop -- may be forthcoming. Breath test refusal, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), or other infraction may also result in an arrest and possible charges against the motorist. We often read of instances where people have been pulled over for one reason, only to be taken into custody for something less expected, at least to the police and third-party observers. Take for instance a news item we ran across a little while ago.

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December 18, 2013

New Jersey DWI Defense Update: Are Field Sobriety Tests Really Useful in Determining Driver Impairment?

For those who have recently been arrested and charged with a drunken driving offense, you may be asking yourself, what can I possibly do to lessen or even avoid the penalties associated with a DWI conviction? As New Jersey drunk driving defense attorneys, the legal team at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall understands your concerns. Surely, with a summons in hand and a police officer most likely ready to testify as to a driver's impairment, what chances does the average motorist have against the system?

First of all, it is important never to assume that nothing can be done to remedy the situation in which you now find yourself. Next, do some research and find a qualified DWI defense lawyer who can speak from experience and give you the straight facts on drunk driving arrests and discuss the options specific to your impaired driving case. While there are no guarantees in this life, the law was created to help people fight charges levied against them by the state. You do have rights.

Many people facing similar situations have asked themselves, Why should I get a lawyer when the odds seem stacked against me? We can't speak for every attorney out there, but if our law firm decides to take on the defense of your case, it is because we believe that your situation can be improved; this is typically done by examining all the relevant facts, police records and legal information pertaining to your DWI traffic stop.

A large number of motorists, when suspected of DWI or DUI, will be asked to perform a field sobriety test at the scene of the traffic stop. Taking one or more of these standardized tests can be challenging even to the most sober individuals, especially under stressful and embarrassing conditions. This is why there has been much debate as to the accuracy of some field sobriety tests. In fact, some experts believe that these tests are anything but accurate when used to determine a driver's level of impairment due to alleged alcohol consumption or drug use.

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December 16, 2013

Hudson and Ocean County DWI News: Police Arrest Four Motorists for Various Drunken Driving Offenses

Drunken driving, DUI, DWI, impaired driving, drug DUI, breath test refusal and numerous other drug- and alcohol-related driving offenses are topics that many people of driving age have heard of, but fewer actually know about from personal experience. Covered under the New Jersey drunk driving statute (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), offenses such as driving while intoxicated by alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs are serious charges that carry stiff penalties for anyone convicted of them.

As Garden State DWI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I have discussed with many of our clients the rather harsh penalties associated with a guilty verdict for drinking and driving. Despite the amount of publicity aimed at discouraging DWI-DUI, it is interesting that many motorists apparently still find it hard to imagine that they will ever be arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence.

As every drunk driving defense attorney knows, New Jersey's DWI law states that no person shall operate a vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit producing drug. The penalties for such an offense include upward of $400 for a first-time offense plus a one-year driver's license suspension. For a second offense the stakes rise to as much as $1,000 and a two-year license suspension.

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December 14, 2013

Responding to Report of Suspicious Vehicle in Berkeley Twp, Police Arrest Two for Drugs

It is certainly obvious to the majority of motorists that operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is definitely a chargeable offense here in the Garden State. However, fewer people realize that being legally drunk or otherwise impaired while sitting in a parked vehicle is also likely to bring a summons for DWI or drug DUI. As professional drunken driving defense lawyers, my legal team understands how such circumstances can translate into an expensive outcome for some drivers.

When it comes to driving under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor, the laws of New Jersey are quite specific as to the evidence needed to convict a person of driving while intoxicated, as well as the potential fines and statutory assessments that can result following a guilty verdict. Drug use, or even possession, while driving a vehicle are also outlined in our state's legal statues. But, again, many people will sometimes be confused by the nuances of the law; that is, those that apply to being "in control" of a motor vehicle while allegedly impaired.

In cases of possession of marijuana in a car or truck, there are important points to remember. If a police officer determines that a person is holding weed in an automobile, it is common for a motorist to receive a summons for pot possession in a motor vehicle. The law that governs this area (N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1) specifically prohibits any individual from operating a car, truck or motorcycle while "knowingly" in possession of marijuana. Please remember that this applies only to the driver, and not the passenger.

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December 12, 2013

Essex County Drunk Driving Enforcement Update: Caldwell, NJ, Sees "Drive Sober" Campaign for Holidays

Well it is true that here in New Jersey, many drivers are all too familiar with the seemingly ever-present police patrols on our highways and surface streets. And while few law-abiding citizens would complain about the benefits of having a well-policed and safe society, from the standpoint of potential erroneous drunken driving arrests or drug DUI charges based on insufficient or improperly gained evidence, many people might be thinking enough is enough.

The fact of the matter is that New Jersey law enforcement authorities frequently receive funding for anti-drunken driving campaigns when certain seasons roll around. As motorists ourselves, we are happy to have safer roadways, but this sometimes comes at the expense of innocent individuals accused of an illegal act such as driving while intoxicated or operating a motor vehicle while impaired by prescription medications.

As Garden State DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, my legal team understands how easily a motorist can end up being stopped for a simple traffic infraction only to find herself being taken to police headquarters for a breath test and possible incarceration for the night. Any time a motorist is stopped by a police officer, the stress of such an event can cause nervousness and an overall unsettled feeling. It's no surprise that many people are suspected of being intoxicated simply on the basis of their nervous mannerisms during such a potentially intimidating experience.

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