March 13, 2014

Somerset County DWI News: North Plainfield PD Officer Admits to 2013 Drunk Driving Incident

Many hundreds of Garden State drivers are pulled over every month by police officers, during which a certain percentage of those individuals are accused of driving while under the influence of alcohol. Although a fair number of motorists are routinely convicted of DWI or drug DUI, there are many defendants who avoid a guilty verdict, as well as the stiff monetary penalties that come with it. Law enforcement officers certainly have a difficult and many times dangers job to perform, but they are not always correct in their assessment of some supposedly drunken drivers.

As experienced New Jersey trial attorneys, my colleagues and I have great respect for our men and women in uniform. But there are instances when we must stand back and consider the occasional downside that comes with the great authority that we give our municipal patrolmen and state troopers. It is because law enforcement officials have such power -- to arrest and charge citizens with driving offenses and more egregious crimes -- that we must hold them to a higher standard, understanding at the same time the challenging nature of their position.

In particular, as DWI defense lawyers, we find it hard to accept the illegal behavior of some policemen when it comes to drinking and driving. From our standpoint, having defended hundreds of motorists against charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), it is unconscionable when a patrolman violates the very laws that he or she is responsible to enforce. Quite simply, there is never a good excuse for a law enforcement officer to be arrested for drinking and driving, yet this can and does happen from time to time.

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March 10, 2014

New Jersey Drunk Driving Arrests Net Motorists in Morris, Hunterdon and Sussex Counties

Most motorists, when charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, usually experience trepidation when facing an upcoming hearing to decide their guilt or innocence. Entering a courtroom without a firm knowledge of the law pertaining to DWI or drug DUI can be a misstep for many people, which can often lead to a conviction and all the associated fines, fees and assessments as provided by New Jersey's drunk driving statutes.

As Garden State drunken driving defense attorneys, my staff of skilled trial lawyers understands how the state's case -- as pursued by many municipal prosecutors -- can turn on the lack of evidence collected by the police during a DWI or DUI traffic stop. While some motorists may understand how the law works, many more can be at some disadvantage when they face a judge alone as the prosecuting attorney brings point after point in support of a guilty verdict.

As a former municipal prosecutor myself, I have worked on the other side of the aisle as advocate for the state. This background, which I share with several other members of my law firm, gives me additional insight into numerous strategies and legal tactics that the state may employ to obtain a drunk driving conviction. Of course, much of what counts as evidence in a DWI or drug DUI case is attained by police at the roadside, as well as back at police headquarters.

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March 7, 2014

Burlington Co. Drunk Driving News: Several DWI Arrests in Bordentown, NJ, Area

Many police arrests that are made each week across the Garden State involve drivers suspected of DWI or drug-impaired driving. Whether a motorist is accused of an alcohol-related offense behind the wheel or charged with operating their car or truck while impaired by some type of controlled dangerous substance (CDS), the implications for the accused person's future can be significant, especially if a conviction for DWI or drug DUI occurs.

As New Jersey trial lawyers experienced in the defense of drivers accused of drunken driving or impaired vehicle operation due to prescription medications, my colleagues and I are well aware of the importance in getting all the facts and developing up a strong defense. It must be understood that a fair percentage of DWI-DUI arrests may, in fact, be warranted; however, many others are usually based on weak evidence or improper arrest procedures on the part of the police.

With several former municipal prosecutors on my legal team, my firm has the legal background and courtroom experience to defend against many of the strategies used by the state to obtain a drunk driving conviction. As DWI defense attorneys, my law firm is aware that that a certain percentage of drivers who are charged with driving while intoxicated will not necessarily be found guilty. In fact, under some circumstances, by pointing out deficiencies in the prosecution's case, our lawyers can have the charges reduced or dismissed by the court.

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March 4, 2014

New Jersey DWI Defense Update: Your Legal Rights Concerning Traffic Stops and Drunk Driving Arrests

It has been fairly well established that a patrolman's actions when stopping a motorist on the highway are within the definitions laid out in the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which pertain to the meaning of "seizure." Keeping this in mind, it is interesting that for quite some time there was more than a modicum of doubt as to what constituted a valid police stop, much less one that leads to the arrest and incarceration of an individual.

Any doubts regarding what was proper or legal seizure by the police during motor vehicle stops were essentially quelled following the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Delaware v. Prouse. In a nutshell, the majority held that police officers must, at the very least, have an articulable and reasonable suspicion that a motorist has violated some portion of a state's traffic law or motor vehicle statutes. In addition to the frequently used "inability to maintain the lane" or "driving with a non-functioning brake light," other justifications may include a suspicion that the motorist is not properly licensed or that the vehicle's registration is expired.

Whatever the original reason for effecting a police stop, the state trooper or municipal cop must continue to meet the standards set by New Jersey legal statutes and other case law when conducting the stop. Time is an important consideration; this is because the law requires a patrolman to conduct the business of a routine traffic stop -- whether or not it eventually leads to an eventual DWI arrest or drug DUI summons -- in a reasonable amount of time. Though certainly not hard and fast, the time taken should not usually exceed that needed to obtain the motorist's operator's license and vehicle insurance credentials and to check those against the police department's database of prior traffic offenses or other violations of the law.

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March 2, 2014

Drunk Driving News: Daughter of Late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy Acquitted of Drug DUI Charges

Being arrested and charged with drunken driving or drug-impaired vehicle operation are serious events, neither of which anyone would want to experience. But as serious as these kinds of charges may be, it is important to understand that being charged with such an offense is worlds away from being convicted of same. As experienced DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, my law firm is dedicated to helping those individuals who believe they were unjustly accused of driving under the influence.

With a century of collective trial law experience, my colleagues and I understand how common it is to see drivers stopped for a simple traffic offense only to find themselves in the back of a squad car and on the way to formal booking on charges of DWI, drug-impaired driving or any of the other alcohol and drug-related offenses enumerated in New Jersey's legal statutes. The fact is, being charged with an offense is only the first step in a process that can end very differently.

Just a couple days ago, over in the Empire State, jurors deliberated for just over an hour before finding that Kerry Kennedy not guilty of drug DUI charges that were levied against the daughter of the late U.S. senator, Robert F. Kennedy. The case received national attention due in large part to Ms. Kennedy's family name, but it also shined a light on the pitfalls of the use of prescription drugs and their effects on motorists all across the country.

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February 28, 2014

Somerset County DWI News: State Police Arrest Fleeing Driver after 100mph Chase

Although it may seem to be an obvious point to make, it would seem that a small number of people still don't understand that confronting the police in whatever circumstance is highly inadvisable these days. Especially under such circumstances as a simple traffic infraction, there is little advantage to calling out an officer who is only doing his duty. Even as DWI defense attorneys, the legal staff at my firm recognizes the important and indispensable role that law enforcement plays when ti comes to the general welfare of our society as a whole.

So the question arises, how should one react to being pulled over for a moving violation? Calmly, is what most people would generally agree is the approach any motorist should take when being questioned by a state trooper or local policeman. We've cautioned readers in the past regarding the folly of driving while possibly under the influence of beer, wine or liquor. The DWI-DUI laws here in the Garden State make the act a potentially expensive and inconvenient one, to say the least.

But when it comes to interacting with a policeman on the roadside, it is best to save any fight for the courtroom, since outbursts brought on by anger or frustration will generally not be tolerated by any patrolman. Certainly, being accused of drunken driving presents a motorist with trouble enough without potentially adding on to the list with a verbal onslaught or uncooperative behavior. In fact, refusing to provide a breath sample may seem like one way to retaliate against an unjustified arrest for DWI, but even that approach can backfire on some people.

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February 26, 2014

Redbank DWI Defense Update: Repeated Drunk Driving Episodes Increase Odds of a DWI Arrest

Regardless of where you live in the Garden State -- Monmouth, Ocean, Hudson or Middlesex County -- there is no guarantee that when a motorist operates a car, truck or motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol, there will be no consequences down the line. The fact is, anyone who presses his or her luck by consuming even just a little bit of alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel is, sooner or later, going to meet a municipal police officer or state trooper on the roadside.

As experienced drunk driving defense lawyers, my legal team and I know that there is little defense for a poor decision that is made in haste. Whether one considers this as being pulled over by a patrolman for a simple traffic infraction -- which could lead to a DWI or DUI summons -- or if it applies to a driver making the wrong choices before walking into a courtroom to answer to charges of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor, poor decisions in either case result in some very disagreeable circumstances. These can include heavy fines, months of living without a valid driver's license, increased car insurance premiums, and even the loss of one's position at work or standing in one's local community.

Regardless of the circumstances, nobody should blithely assume that it is more economical to go it alone -- that is, without enlisting the aid of a skilled DWI defense expert. Surely, at the very least, it can hardly be a waste of one's time to take advantage of free, no-obligation consultation in order to better understand one's rights under New Jersey law when it comes to being accused of a serious DWI-DUI offense.

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February 23, 2014

Police DWI-DUI Blotter: Morris and Bergen County Cops Make Multiple Drunk Driving Arrests

With hundreds of drivers pulled over by police every week all across the Garden State -- for all manner of traffic and vehicle infractions -- it is not unexpected that a certain percentage of these police stops will result in arrests for any number of more serious offenses. Drunken driving, CDS possession, impaired vehicle operation due to drug use, and underage drinking and driving are just a few of the common reasons why a fair number of New Jersey motorists find themselves served with summonses for traffic-related offenses.

How many of these individuals actually avoid a guilty verdict and, by doing so, side-step the potentially expensive fines, fees and statutory assessments? That often depends on the strength of the evidence, but the number would surprise many people. Certainly, the first step is to consult a qualified drunk driving defense attorney to learn what options are available to the particular motorist accused of such an offense. As New Jersey DWI-DUI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I are experienced in providing an aggressive defense for many people arrested for drunk or impaired vehicle operation.

When looking to understand the typical kinds of police traffic stops, it is instructive to look at police blotter reports in local newspapers and online media sources. The law of averages suggests that the average DWI offense involves some of the most simple and seemingly innocuous driving infractions as a starting point for a roadside traffic stop. But even the most basic of traffic offenses can eventually develop into a full-blown drunk driving arrest.

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February 21, 2014

Municipal Police in Bergen County Arrest Drivers on Charges of DWI, Aggravated Assault

When it comes to alcohol-related traffic offenses, New Jersey is hardly unique among the many states that have stiff anti-drunk driving laws. We are, however, one of the most densely populated states in the Union, can make law enforcement efforts to curb drunk driving -- not to mention drugged driving, or drug DUI -- rather obvious and seemingly heavy handed. As Garden State DWI defense attorneys, my legal staff is always aware of the volume of intoxicated driving arrests that occur on a weekly, or even daily basis.

Whether a motorist is legally drunk or not is for a court to decide, but our job is to represent defendants who believe that they were unjustly accused of DWI or DUI. Convincing a judge that a defendant was not impaired at the time of his or her arrest can include calling witnesses, questioning the voracity of the breath test results obtained from an Alcotest device, and bring to light any procedural mistakes made by the police in the course of the arrest.

As experienced trial lawyers with extensive training in the defense of motorists charged with drunk driving, prescription drug DUI, underage drinking and driving, and breath test refusal, among others, my legal team has dedicated themselves to helping accused and alleged intoxicated drivers have their day in court. In addition to alcohol and prescription drug-related arrests, we also represent those individuals who have been charged with being under the influence of illegal substances (known generally as controlled dangerous substances or CDSs), such as cocaine, meth and marijuana.

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February 19, 2014

New Jersey DWI Enforcement Gets a Boost with Millions of Dollars Every Year

With the continued emphasis on anti-drunk driving campaigns, enhanced DWI-DUI enforcement patrols, and overnight sobriety checkpoints all across the Garden State, some people might be wondering if the intensity of the anti-drunken driving efforts will ever abate. From our standpoint, as New Jersey DWI-DUI defense lawyers, any let up will certainly take a long time to come. Of course, part of the money for all of the additional manpower and overtime hours typically comes from federal funding.

For example, take the annual "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" holiday campaign that ran last year from December 6 to January 2. Dozens of police departments all across the state each received $4,400 in grant money for the 2013 holiday crackdown. All told, 144 departments shared a $730,400 pot of money to conduct drunk driving "saturation" patrols and set up DWI roadblocks in counties like Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex and Hudson. For many people, just the threat of increased traffic enforcement was enough to make them think twice about having a drink at company parties or family gatherings.

According to news reports, about a one-third of all law enforcement agencies in the Garden State received some kind of funding to bolster police patrols around the state. The number was actually up from the previous year, when just 95 departments received grant monies. This kind of funding usually comes at times when the seasonal arrest rate for drunk driving is higher than normal. New Years is an especially busy time for police officers when it comes to stopping potentially drunk motorists.

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February 17, 2014

Marijuana DUI: The Next Big DWI Crusade?

It's already on the books, that is, the Garden State's legal statutes that specify the use of marijuana (and certain other substances) as grounds for being arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Whatever you call it: weed, pot, grass, hash, or just plain Mary Jane, marijuana has for years been listed as one of many controlled dangerous substances (CDSs), all of which are considered illegal because they are either hallucinogenic or habit-forming. As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, my legal team has been defending motorists charged with marijuana DUI for years now.

Under New Jersey statute 39:4-50, any motorist operating a car, truck or motorcycle who is found to be under the influence of any habit-producing drug or narcotic can be arrested and charged with a violation of state law. The fines and punishments are not unlike those associated with alcohol-related DWI; hundreds of dollars in fines, plus possible jail time and suspension of one's driver's license. The interesting thing is that we may just see more and more pot-related DUIs in the future thanks to the course of marijuana legalization in many states.

From a legal point of view, the use of weed versus the consumption of beer, wine or hard liquor has some differences. In fact, the statute covering marijuana DUI does not provide for any specific criteria on how the state should determine that a driver was actually under the influence of marijuana when pulled over by a police officer. The proving of this element becomes what attorneys refer to as a "fact specific" inquiry.

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February 15, 2014

Monmouth Motorist Suspected of DWI after Head-on Crash in Ocean County

We have mentioned this more than once in this forum, but again, it bear repeating: Getting behind the wheel of an automobile is a foolhardy venture to start with, but complicating a certain drunk driving arrest with a serious traffic accident is something that will only makes a DWI defense all the more difficult. As Garden State trial attorneys experienced in drunk driving and drug DUI law, we know how thorny a drunk driving case can be when the defendant has injured or killed another individual in the process.

It doesn't make much, if any, difference where a collision involving alcohol or drugs takes place; be it in Mercer, Union, Bergen or Atlantic County, when a motorist is facing a combination of drunken driving charges plus vehicular assault (or worse, death by auto), the job of any DWI-DUI attorney will be made that much difficult by the circumstances surrounding the collision.

Yet, in spite of common sense and public service campaigns to the contrary, dozens of people find themselves in similarly serious legal predicaments every month. Here in the Garden State, driving while intoxicated is not looked upon with any sympathy by the police, the courts or the community at large. The attitude of society for those who cause a serious injury accident, and most certainly a fatal traffic collision, often borders between contempt and hatred.

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February 13, 2014

NJ Attorney General Mulls Charges Against State Troopers Who Handled Fellow Officer's 2013 DWI Accident

For those who watch a lot of television, police dramas in particular, the idea that police officers who work together typically develop a very strong sense of loyalty and devotion to each other is a very familiar theme. While the old saying that "life imitates art" is often true, in the case of the law enforcement community, art has been imitating life for many decades. Often referred to as the "blue wall of silence," this unspoken rule reflects the common understanding between police officers that one does not testify against a fellow officer.

This bond between law enforcement officers has a deep and long-standing tradition, having its roots in the associational virtue of loyalty, and drawing from a context of friendship and even a familial connection with other officers on a police force or department. While laudable in many regards, the "blue wall" can occasionally work against the aims of justice when corruption in the ranks is discovered by superiors or other well-intentioned individuals.

As New Jersey drunken driving defense attorneys, my colleagues and I have a great respect for the dedication and personal sacrifice that many police officers regularly display as they put their lives on the line every day in towns and cities all across this nation. Unfortunately, there are some instances where an officer in whom society has placed its faith fails to live by the laws that he or she is sworn to uphold. A case in point has been playing out in Trenton, as an investigation has loomed for a number of New Jersey State Police troopers.

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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.

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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.

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