February 11, 2014

Pending New Jersey DWI Legislation Calls for Mandatory Ignition Interlock Devices, Reduced License Suspension Terms

As New Jersey drunk driving defense attorneys and experienced trial lawyers, my legal team knows quite a bit about the penalties that convicted drunk drivers face based on our state's DWI laws. Aside from monetary penalties that can total upward of thousands of dollars in fines, fees and auto insurance premium assessments, license suspensions are quite common and jail time is sometimes attached, depending on the particular circumstances. Suffice it to say that New Jersey is not very easy on drivers convicted of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

When it comes to a potential license suspension following a DWI guilty verdict, the current laws are rather strict, to which anybody who has been found guilty of driving under the influence would likely attest. Still, there is a bill making its way through the legislature in Trenton that may seem bit more onerous, but which may make more sense to the many motorists who will be convicted of alcohol-related DWI in the future. We'll also add that some critics have already said that the bill as it is currently written is, in a word, flawed.

These days, as any qualified drunk driving attorney will tell you, the minimum license suspension for a convicted first-time offender is three months, and that's if the defendant's blood-alcohol content (BAC) as measured by police is between 0.08 and 0.10 percent. If the measured BAC is 0.10 percent or above, then even a first offense will net a driver a minimum of seven months' loss of driving privileges. Depending on the situation (such as offenses that occur within 1,000 feet of a school zone), that suspension period can be as long as 12 months.

Continue reading "Pending New Jersey DWI Legislation Calls for Mandatory Ignition Interlock Devices, Reduced License Suspension Terms" »

February 10, 2014

Ocean County Traffic Stops Lead to Multiple Intoxicated Driving Arrests and Drug-related Charges

As Garden State DWI and drug DUI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I often remind potential clients that when a police officer makes a traffic stop the action itself can be construed as a "seizure" within the legal definitions stated in the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution. As most every legal professional knows, over the years there has existed some doubt as to what truly constituted a valid traffic stop. But these doubts were essentially wiped away following the landmark Supreme Court decision of Delaware v. Prouse.

One of the more popular reasons, at least among police officers, for stopping many a motorist is the common moving violation known as failure to maintain one's lane; this justification for making a routine traffic stop is second only to pulling a car or truck over based on one of the more typical vehicle equipment infractions, such as a burned out headlight or taillight (in fact, if you find yourself driving a vehicle with a burned-out or broken lamp anywhere on the car or truck, be prepared to have a state trooper or municipal patrolman stop you on the roadside).

When it comes to common moving violations - mainly, straying from one's lane -- drivers who find themselves having a difficult time staying within the lane markers during the evening hours will more than likely end up having a conversation with a law enforcement officer on the shoulder of the roadway. If it's simply a matter of fatigue, a motorist may simply get a warning; but if that individual has consumed any alcohol recently, much less admits to the fact, complications will likely arise.

Continue reading "Ocean County Traffic Stops Lead to Multiple Intoxicated Driving Arrests and Drug-related Charges" »

February 9, 2014

Bergen, Monmouth, or Ocean County; Regardless Where a DWI Arrest Occurs, a Strong Defense is Important

The old saying, "It's not what you know, but who you know," could be applicable to almost any aspect of life. Whether you are looking for an experienced building contractor, a reliable snow removal company, or a skilled legal expert, it's always best to do one's homework in order to get the best and most qualified professional on your side. But, while many things in life can be put off, finding a good attorney is not necessarily one of them.

For anyone who has even been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence of prescription medications (drug DUI), it is a fact that when staring at potential penalties in the hundreds to thousands of dollars, getting to know a good drunk driving defense lawyer can quickly become a top priority. Here in the Garden State, being convicted of DWI or DUI, not to mention breath test refusal, underage drunken driving, or marijuana possession in a motor vehicle can be a serious event in one's life; and, one that will not soon be forgotten.

The often serious penalties awaiting those who are found guilty of drunk driving can include not only monetary fines and assessments, but also a likely driver's license suspension, imposition of an ignition interlock device on one's vehicle, not to mention the possibility of jail time. As anyone can imagine, being charged with an alcohol- or drug-related traffic offense can have serious ramifications for the motorist and his family.

Continue reading "Bergen, Monmouth, or Ocean County; Regardless Where a DWI Arrest Occurs, a Strong Defense is Important" »

February 8, 2014

NJ Appeals Panel Finds Princeton Police Officer Made Unlawful DWI Arrest of University Student

According to news articles, a Princeton police officer was found to have broken the law in the fall of 2012 when he reportedly arrested a student for drunken driving near the campus of Princeton University in Mercer County without showing probably cause for his actions. The decision, which came from a New Jersey appeals panel, found fault with the patrolman's actions prior to arresting the university student. Based on news reports, after the officer observed a driver resting his head on the steering wheel of his parked vehicle, he opened the driver door without cause.

News articles reported that the October 2012 arrest began with Sgt. Steven Riccitello seeing a motor vehicle legally pull into a parking spot in a convenience store parking area. The officer then reportedly noticed that the driver put his head down and closed his eyes inside his legally parked vehicle. One of the three appeals judges reviewing the case stated that seeing such activity was not sufficient grounds for the patrolman to open the car door and essentially search the interior of the car.

This particular drunk driving case was based on an emerging legal theory known as the "community-caretaking doctrine." This legal theory essentially allows police officers to take certain kinds of action, without the need for a warrant, if they believe that an individual is in need of assistance or that someone's property is in "immediate danger." According to court records, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said that the patrolman had opened the car door because he was inquiring into the driver's "wellbeing" and not, as the defendant's attorney apparently suggested, that the officer believed that the motorist was perhaps intoxicated or otherwise impaired.

Continue reading "NJ Appeals Panel Finds Princeton Police Officer Made Unlawful DWI Arrest of University Student" »

February 7, 2014

Bergen County Police Blotter: Officers Encounter Drunk Motorists, Make Drug-related Arrest

Rather few members of New Jersey's law enforcement community have much sympathy when arresting drunk drivers here in the Garden State. And with the amount of energy devoted to stopping motorists who may or may not be inebriated, there should be no question as to the aim of most state and local DWI and drug DUI patrols; that is, to hand over to the local prosecutor's office motorists who have in the eyes of the law very likely committed a drunken driving offense. Along with the defendant, police must also provide the municipal prosecutor with sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.

Does it happen? Yes, indeed. Many people do have their day in court only to be found guilty and then have still penalties heaped upon them. The law is specific, not only in terms of the various criteria that must be met to attain a guilty verdict, but also the monetary penalties and other punitive actions, post-conviction, all provided for by this state's drunken driving statutes. As DWI defense lawyers, our job is to consider all of the facts, particularly those held up by the prosecution as evidence that a motorist was truly drunk at the time of his or her arrest.

As drunk driving defense attorneys, my legal team knows that not every driver arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated was actually impaired beyond a reasonable doubt. My colleagues and I know that many people who are picked up for DWI-DUI -- especially many first-time offenders -- did not consciously decide to go out and break the law by driving drunk. However, once that traffic stop is made, and an officer suspects the driver of being impaired by alcohol or drugs, an arrest is most likely forthcoming, to be followed by formal charges and the setting of a hearing date in a municipal courtroom.

Continue reading "Bergen County Police Blotter: Officers Encounter Drunk Motorists, Make Drug-related Arrest" »

February 4, 2014

Arrested for DWI? It's Important to Understand the Legal Process for a New Jersey DUI

As experienced trial lawyers concentrating on DWI defense cases, my dedicated legal team has defended literally hundreds of individuals over the years who have been accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, doctor-prescribed medications, and even illegal substances, such as meth, cocaine, and pot. Many of our clients began their legal fight following a relatively basic traffic stop, which often is the situation in many drunken driving cases.

As long-time drunken driving attorneys, we know that being pulled over by a highway patrolman or local cop can happen for any number of reasons; some as seemingly insignificant as a burned-out license plate lamp or cracked windshield. However, even these relatively innocuous infractions can actually result in the motorists being issued a summons for drinking and driving; many times, an arrest will occur and the driver's vehicle may be impounded.

It really makes no difference where in the Garden State one resides, works or goes to school; DWI and drug DUI police arrests happen all over the state, in such places as Atlantic, Bergen and Monmouth counties, or Newark, Princeton and Atlantic City. As a driver operating on the highways, interstates and surface streets of New Jersey, there is always a possibility that you or someone you know will be stopped by a law enforcement officer for one of dozens of comparatively minor traffic offenses.

Continue reading "Arrested for DWI? It's Important to Understand the Legal Process for a New Jersey DUI" »

February 1, 2014

As New Jersey Police Crack Down on DWIs this Super Bowl Weekend, What About Pot?

Few people have accused New Jersey law enforcement officials as being soft on drunk drivers; certainly not lately, so it wasn't surprising that with the world's premier sporting event taking place right here in the Garden State, that police all across the state were gearing up for some serious anti-DWI enforcement. As Monmouth County drunk driving defense lawyers, my colleagues and I are very familiar with the effort with which state and local patrolmen pursue those who may have had a little too much to drink.

While New Year's Eve, along with other popular national holidays, are prime time for DWI and drug DUI enforcement, the arrival of the Seahawks and Broncos is really heating things up for state police and municipal cops statewide. According to news reports, police presence on New Jersey roadways promises to be uncommonly high this coming Super Bowl weekend, especially in the East Rutherford area. The New Jersey state attorney general's office has advise fans who expect to party hard before, during and after the big game to bring a sober designated driver along for the fun.

This warning is not exactly falling on deaf ears, since those who follow police anti-drunk driving campaigns liken Super Bowl weekend to that of New Year's, which is recognized as one of the largest binge-drinking times of the year. And, because hundreds of New Jersey police will be working overtime to keep the streets safe and free of intoxicated motorists, there is no reason for anyone planning to celebrate professional football's famous face-off between the best of the NFC and AFC.

Continue reading "As New Jersey Police Crack Down on DWIs this Super Bowl Weekend, What About Pot?" »

January 31, 2014

Alcohol-related Union County Arrests Include Traffic Accidents and Late-night Police Stops

A 53-year-old Plainfield, NJ, driver was taken into custody by members of the Garwood Police Department following a traffic accident near the intersection of South Ave. and Center St. According to news articles, a collision took place around 1am in the morning when a white van reportedly slammed into the back of another motor vehicle. Based on police information, a number of 911 calls were made calling officers to the scene as the driver of the van allegedly attempted to leave the scene of the crash.

Officers arrived shortly thereafter to find that one person had reportedly removed the driver of the van from his vehicle. Upon investigation, the patrolmen determined that the suspect was "so intoxicated" that he allegedly could not maintain his balance. As a result, the officers took the man into custody and arrested him for drunken driving. The other driver whose vehicle was hit complained to emergency responders of back pain and was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

The suspect was taken to police headquarters where he was charged with additional offenses, including a couple criminal complaints -- vehicular assault and operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license reportedly due to multiple previous DWI convictions. The man was eventually released on $5,000 bail pending trial.

Continue reading "Alcohol-related Union County Arrests Include Traffic Accidents and Late-night Police Stops" »

January 29, 2014

Things to Consider Arrested by Police at a New Jersey Sobriety Checkpoint

Being flagged down at an unexpected police roadblock can be unnerving enough, even if one hasn't spent a night out on the town. As any motorist in the Garden State knows, however, there are few easy solutions to being caught driving drunk when it comes to New Jersey police officers. In fact, the circumstances that can eventually lead to an arrest for DWI or drug DUI can be many and varied. One particular situation is that of the frequent sobriety roadblock, or DUI checkpoint. Motorists who find themselves in such a scary scenario may appreciate the following insights from our expert DWI defense staff.

As New Jersey defense attorneys specializing in drunken driving cases, my colleagues and I take pride in serving residents of Bergen, Essex, Ocean and Monmouth counties, among many others. We believe whole heartedly that knowledge is power; when a driver understands what he or she may be facing in terms of drunk driving charges and possible penalties, that information can help a person better make an informed and confident decision.

Whatever the cause or events leading up to a drunken driving arrest, being stopped by a New Jersey state trooper or local cop is usually the first of many steps that can eventually lead to a potentially costly and drunken driving conviction. Whether one is accused of excessive alcohol consumption or an unexpected reaction to some doctor-prescribed medication (drug DUI), knowing what typically awaits a motorist at a sobriety roadblock can perhaps ease his or her anxiety and calm that person's nerves.

Continue reading "Things to Consider Arrested by Police at a New Jersey Sobriety Checkpoint" »

January 27, 2014

Concerned About What May Happen after Refusing a Breathalyzer Test?

Talk to most any person who has been convicted of drunken driving in the Garden State and you will most likely hear about the ordeal of having one's breath tested in order to obtain a blood-alcohol content (BAC) measurement. As we have explained numerous times in this forum, breath test results are often a key point of evidence for any municipal prosecutor looking to convict a motorist on DWI charges.

There is no doubt that the uninitiated -- that is, drivers who have never been stopped by a police officer and arrested for driving while intoxicated -- may not have an appreciation for all of the aspects of a drunk driving or drug DUI police stop. As Garden State DWI defense lawyers, my staff can explain to potential clients the various steps that a patrolman or state trooper should take when initiating a traffic stop, evaluating a suspected drunken driver, and making an arrest when an offense is believes to have taken place.

Dozens of drunk driving arrests happen all across New Jersey every week in counties such as Middlesex, Monmouth, Atlantic and Bergen. When a driver is stopped for a moving violation, if the officer in charge observes any signs of impairment, regardless of whether the individual is truly intoxicated, the officer may request that the motorist perform one or more of the standardized field sobriety tests as established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Continue reading "Concerned About What May Happen after Refusing a Breathalyzer Test?" »

January 20, 2014

Police Officers Make Three Arrests for Intoxicated Driving in Jackson Twp., NJ

While police in Cape May, Ocean, Atlantic and Monmouth counties are all rather busy with drunken driving activity during the warmer months, it is a certainty that all during the year New Jersey State Police, municipal patrolmen and other law enforcement officials are kept active with DWI and drug DUI arrests no matter what the season. And it goes without saying, as the New Year holiday approaches, that instances of drinking and driving tend to become more frequent thanks to family gatherings, office parties and overall holiday celebrations.

As Garden State drunk driving defense lawyers, my colleagues and I receive our share requests for no-obligation consultations from motorists who have been accused of impaired driving. While there is no single scenario that illustrates a typical drunken driving arrest, if the police are following proper procedures it generally begins with a legitimate traffic stop for a driving offense or vehicle violation.

If there was no legitimate reason for the initial police stop, then there may be grounds for a dismissal of the subsequent DWI-DUI charges. Most people who are stopped by police and then arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol are well advised to seek the advice of a skilled attorney with expertise in the area of drunken driving law.

Continue reading "Police Officers Make Three Arrests for Intoxicated Driving in Jackson Twp., NJ" »

January 18, 2014

Bergen County Woman Cleared of DWI Charges following Fatal Pedestrian Accident in Hackensack

Being accused of drunk driving when one knows he or she is not intoxicated can be a frustrating and potentially expensive event in any person's life, but being told that you were drunk following an injury or fatal accident can have greater implications, many of which may be undeserved and possibly damaging in so many ways. As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, my legal team knows that a percentage of alleged drunk driving accidents can occasionally not be attributable to drinking and driving. Proving it, however, can sometimes be a challenge.

It goes without saying that the injury or death of any innocent person is a tragedy that nobody ever wants to occur. Unfortunately, automobile accidents can and do happen with alarming frequency here in the Garden State. For a driver's honest and tragic mistake lead to a drunken driving arrest without the proper legal evidence only compounds the sadness felt by all concerned.

Our firm has seen, time and time again, where police officers make wholly subjective observations that have led to the unjust arrest of motorists for driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs. While this does not always happen, each instance of an unjustified arrest provides an object lesson for why it is imperative to consult with a qualified DWI-DUI defense attorney when confronted with a drunk driving summons or other related traffic offense.

Continue reading "Bergen County Woman Cleared of DWI Charges following Fatal Pedestrian Accident in Hackensack" »

January 16, 2014

Teen Singer-Actor David Cassidy of TV's "Partridge Family" Charged with 3rd Drunk Driving Offense

Generally speaking, the police are not too selective when it comes to stopping motorists on New Jersey parkways and interstates, city streets and rural routes for any number of traffic offenses and vehicle-related infractions. Whether any one of these routine police stops develops into a drunken driving arrest has much to do with the observations that the officer in charge makes during the stop and whether or not the driver has actually consumed an alcoholic beverage recently.

As Garden State residents already know, the focus on anti-drunk driving enforcement has resulted in frequent DWI awareness campaigns tied together with enhanced anti-drunken driving police activities, such as saturation patrols and roadside sobriety checkpoints. Ultimately, most anyone who travels on New Jersey roadways while under the influence of alcohol or drugs may find themselves on the receiving end of a DWI or drug DUI summons with the attendant risk of heavy fines and other penalties.

Most anyone who drives a motor vehicle here, or anywhere across the country, likely understands that with police traffic enforcement comes the potential for drunken driving arrests. Few, if any, people are immune from being stopped by a traffic cop for even the smallest offense or most minor of infractions. Quite often, arrests of everyday men and women can include some from the ranks of the rich and famous.

Continue reading "Teen Singer-Actor David Cassidy of TV's "Partridge Family" Charged with 3rd Drunk Driving Offense" »

January 14, 2014

New Jersey Drivers Arrested in Ocean, Monmouth on DWI, Hit-and-Run, and Drug Charges

There are times when drunk drivers are much more likely to be stopped by New Jersey State Police or municipal patrolmen, but it's safe to say that anyone who drinks and drives in the Garden State also runs the risk of being arrested for DWI. As New Jersey drunken driving defense experts, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall understand the risks faced by drunk motorists and the penalties associated with potential convictions.

Whether one lives, works or commutes in Bergen County, Essex County, Hudson or Middlesex counties, the chances of being stopped for even the most basic of traffic infractions can open the door to further scrutiny by a police officer. When that happens, and depending on the individual's physical or mental condition, a patrolman may suspect some kind of impairment by the way in which the driver acts or speaks.

It isn't that uncommon for a motorist to be asked by a policeman to exit his vehicle and perform a series of field sobriety tests, which is often the first step toward a full-blown DWI arrest. As DWI-DUI lawyers, we have seen a myriad of scenarios where drivers find themselves facing serious and potentially costly drunk driving charges following a simple error in judgment on the roadway.

Continue reading "New Jersey Drivers Arrested in Ocean, Monmouth on DWI, Hit-and-Run, and Drug Charges" »

January 13, 2014

New Jersey DWI News: Alcohol-related Motorcycle Crash and Other Drunk Driving Arrests

There is no doubt in our minds that the average person can be rattled by a police officer stopping him for a moving violation. The fact is, only a small percentage of the general public ever comes in contact with a law enforcement officer during their daily activities. This means that the only time that most people ever encounter a state trooper or municipal patrolman is when they have done something wrong in traffic and are pulled over for a routine violation.

When that happens, it is not uncommon for some individuals to act nervous or anxious , fumble with their license and registration paperwork, and generally have a tremble to their voice; some of the very behaviors that police officers may point to as signs of possible inebriation. As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, my legal team is well aware of the difficult situation that any police stop poses for some drivers.

Of course, being asked if one has had anything to drink prior to getting behind the wheel can sometimes turn an anxious motorist into a DWI suspect just moments away from an arrest. If it does happen, and you are taken into custody and charged with alcohol or drug-related impaired driving, it does become a serious situation. At that point, calling on an experienced drunken driving defense attorney can often be the next best step to fighting a DWI-DUI summons.

Continue reading "New Jersey DWI News: Alcohol-related Motorcycle Crash and Other Drunk Driving Arrests" »