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In a New Jersey DWI case, the State must prove in municipal court beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the charged offenses. A defendant that is convicted despite insufficient evidence has the right to appeal to the law division. The law division must abide by certain requirements on review, and if it does not, its decision may be overruled as well. In a recent opinion, a New Jersey court discussed the law division’s obligations in evaluating a DWI defendant’s appeal in a case in which the defendant argued the State’s evidence was inadequate to prove his guilt.  If you are charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey, it is critical to understand your rights, and you should meet with a seasoned New Jersey DWI defense attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of DWI. He appealed to the law division, and his conviction was affirmed. The case then went through numerous rounds of appeals and remands, each of which resulted in rulings affirming his conviction. He appealed his conviction to the Superior Court a third time, arguing in part that the law division erred in applying an appellate standard instead of conducting the de novo analysis which was required by law. The court agreed and once again remanded the matter to the law division for review.

Standard of Review on DWI Appeals

Under New Jersey law, when a defendant appeals from a conviction in a municipal court, the law division must defer to the municipal court’s credibility findings but must otherwise develop its own conclusions of law and findings of fact. In other words, the law division is required to review the evidence anew, or de novo, based on the record developed in the municipal court while giving due regard to the ability of the municipal court judge to assess the credibility of the witnesses. Continue reading

People charged with DWI offenses have the right to choose whether to testify in their own defense. While in some instances, such testimony may exonerate a defendant, in others, it may impair a defendant’s credibility and defenses, and it is prudent for the defendant to remain silent. In a recent opinion, a New Jersey court discussed whether a defendant charged with numerous DWI crimes was denied the right to a fair trial due to his attorney’s suggestion that he refrain from testifying. If you live in New Jersey and are faced with accusations that you committed a DWI crime, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorney regarding your rights.

The Alleged Crime

It is alleged that the defendant was drinking in a bar with friends when he began bragging about how fast his car could go. He and a friend left the bar to go to a nearby convenience store. They intended to return to the bar, but the defendant accelerated and lost control, and the car crashed. The friend died due to his injuries. A toxicology report subsequently revealed the defendant’s BAC to be almost twice the legal limit at the time of the accident.

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including assault by auto by driving while intoxicated. The defendant was convicted as charged, after which he filed a motion for post-conviction relief, arguing in part that he was denied the right to a fair trial due to the fact he was mis-advised by his attorney not to testify on his own behalf. The court denied his motion, and the defendant appealed. Continue reading

While all DWI charges should be regarded as serious, a charge for a third or subsequent DWI offense can result in significant penalties, including license suspension and jail time. Once a person is convicted of DWI however, trying to get a conviction reversed can be an extremely difficult task. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed the ground for vacating a third DWI conviction in a ruling issued in a matter in which the defendant alleged numerous procedural errors were committed during the investigation of his alleged crime. If you are a New Jersey resident currently facing DWI charges, it is advisable to meet with a dedicated New Jersey DWI defense attorney to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the defendant was stopped by a police officer for driving erratically. When the officer approached the defendant, he noticed he appeared to be intoxicated, in that he smelled like alcohol and had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. The officer asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety tests, which the defendant was unable to complete. The defendant was then transported to the police station for a breath test, but the breathalyzer machine was not working. Allegedly, he was then transferred to a second barracks where he underwent the test, which revealed his BAC to be 0.15%. He was charged with DWI, which was his third offense. He moved to have the results of his breath test deemed inadmissible, which the court denied. He then filed a conditional guilty plea and, after his sentencing hearing, appealed.

Grounds for Vacating a DWI Conviction

Under law, if a driver moves to appeal a DWI conviction in New Jersey issued by a municipal court, the Law Division will make its own factual findings and conclusions of law while deferring to the lower court’s credibility findings. Then, if the Law Division’s findings are appealed to the Superior Court, the court will merely review whether there is adequate credible evidence of the record to support the lower court findings and will not overturn those findings absent a manifest error.

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In many DWI cases, it is prudent for a defendant to enter into a plea agreement in hopes of receiving a lesser sentence. Typically, the court will go to great lengths to advise the defendant of the potential penalties associated with entering a guilty plea, to make sure the defendant is making a knowledgeable and informed decision. This is because if a defendant was not fully apprised of the potential consequences of pleading guilty prior to entering a plea, it can be grounds for vacating a conviction.  In a recent opinion, a New Jersey court discussed what a defendant seeking post-conviction relief in a DWI case must establish to vacate a guilty plea. If you live in New Jersey and are charged with a DWI offense, it is important to talk to a knowledgeable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to determine what penalties you may face.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that, following a police stop, the defendant was charged with numerous offenses, including driving while intoxicated (DWI). The defendant opted to enter into a plea agreement. Prior to the defendant entering his plea, the defendant’s attorney read him the plea form, and the trial judge asked him if he understood its terms. The defendant explained that he understood the mandatory fines and jail sentences for his DWI charge, that he could be sentenced to the maximum penalties, and that although he could request concurrent sentences, his request may be denied.

It is alleged that the defendant affirmed that no other representations or promises had been made to him by his attorney or any other person. After the defendant entered his guilty plea, he requested that his sentence be postponed for personal reasons. His request was denied, and he was sentenced to 180 days imprisonment for the DWI conviction and eight years imprisonment for other crimes. He then filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing he was advised he would not face the maximum sentence and could serve a suspended sentence. The defendant filed numerous motions for post-conviction relief, which were denied. The defendant then filed a motion for post-conviction relief seven years after he was convicted. His motion was denied, and he appealed. Continue reading

While it is unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in New Jersey, not all DWI offenses are treated equally, as some carry enhanced penalties. For example,  a conviction for a DWI in a school zone carries greater penalties than if the offense occurred in other areas. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed the evidence needed to prove a person is guilty of driving while intoxicated in a school zone, in a recent opinion in which the defendant appealed his conviction. If you are a resident of New Jersey charged with driving under the influence near a school, it is prudent to speak to a dedicated New Jersey school zone DWI defense attorney to evaluate your possible defenses.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the police responded to the scene of a one-car accident in Warren, New Jersey. When they arrived at the scene, they observed tire marks on the road and in the grass and a disabled vehicle in the middle of the road. When they approached the vehicle, they observed the defendant sitting in the driver’s seat with the car running and the headlights on. When the police spoke with the defendant, they smelled alcohol and noted his speech was slurred and difficult to understand.

Allegedly, the defendant was unaware that he was involved in the accident. He submitted to field sobriety tests, which he failed. He was arrested and transported to the police station, where his BAC was determined to be 0.28. He was charged with DWI and DWI within 1000 feet of a school. Following a bench trial, the defendant was found guilty. He appealed, arguing in part that the State failed to produce evidence sufficient to show he was guilty of DWI in a school zone. Continue reading

Typically, when the police suspect a person is guilty of driving while intoxicated, they will request that the person provide a breath sample. As New Jersey’s implied consent laws require drivers to submit to a breath test, the failure to do so may result in a refusal charge in addition to other DWI offenses. Recently, a New Jersey court clarified the State’s burden of proof in cases involving refusal, in an opinion in which the defendant argued there was insufficient evidence to uphold her conviction. If you live in New Jersey and are accused of refusing to submit to a breath test or another DWI related crime, it is advisable to talk to a New Jersey DWI defense attorney regarding what evidence the State must produce to convict you.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was involved in an accident on an evening in September 2017. Specifically, she drove her car into the side of another car that was stopped at a red light. A police officer investigating the accident spoke with the defendant and noticed that her speech was slurred and her eyes were glassy. She appeared confused as well but denied that she consumed alcohol or took any medication.

Allegedly, per the officer’s request, the defendant performed field sobriety tests, but she was unable to complete them. The officer then arrested the defendant for DWI and transported her to the police station. Once at the station, the defendant refused to submit to a breath test. She was subsequently charged with DWI, reckless driving, and refusal to submit to a breath test. She was convicted of refusal and careless driving, after which she appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to uphold her refusal conviction. Continue reading

In New Jersey, when a person is suspected of DWI, the police must obtain either a warrant or the person’s permission prior to obtaining a blood sample. In certain instances, however, the police may obtain a blood sample absent consent or the authority to do so from a judge. The circumstances under which a warrantless blood draw may be conducted were recently discussed in a New Jersey appeal in which the defendant was convicted of aggravated manslaughter. If you are a New Jersey resident currently charged with a DWI crime, it is wise to speak to a New Jersey DWI defense attorney about the rights you are afforded under the law.

History of the Case

It is reported that a police officer responded to the scene of an accident where he learned that two young girls who were walking down the side of a road were struck by a vehicle driven by the defendant. When the officer spoke with the defendant, he appeared to be impaired, in that he smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes. He was asked to submit to field sobriety tests, which he failed. The officer then noticed that the defendant’s right hand was injured and transported the defendant to the hospital for medical care.

Allegedly, while the defendant was at the hospital, a blood draw was conducted that revealed the presence of prescription anxiety and pain pills and a BAC of 0.183%. The officer involved was not trained in administering a breath test. The two girls involved in the accident died, and the defendant was charged with aggravated manslaughter. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of his blood test, which was denied. He then pled guilty, and following his sentencing, appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion. Continue reading

Under New Jersey law, a person charged with DWI has the right to a fair and impartial trial. Thus, if it is clear that a trial judge is biased or otherwise engages in misconduct that is prejudicial to the defendant, it may constitute grounds for a new trial or re-sentencing. In some instances, though, even if a trial judge behaved inappropriately, it may not mean that a conviction or sentence should be vacated, as demonstrated in a recent New Jersey DWI opinion. If you live in New Jersey and are faced with charges that you drove while intoxicated, it is in your best interest to confer with a dedicated New Jersey DWI defense attorney to determine what defenses may be available in your case.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was stopped by a police officer for swerving in and out of multiple lanes of traffic. When the officer spoke with the defendant, he noticed his car smelled of alcohol, and the defendant had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. The defendant submitted to field sobriety tests, which he performed improperly. He was then charged with DWI, and a breath test revealed his BAC to be .13%. The defendant was convicted in the municipal court, after which he appealed.

Allegedly, on appeal, the law division judge confirmed the defendant’s convictions but found that the license suspension imposed was improper as the municipal judge considered the defendant’s lack of credibility in determining an appropriate length. Thus, the length of the defendant’s license suspension sentence was reduced, and the sentence was stayed. The defendant appealed again, arguing his conviction and sentence should be vacated due to the municipal judge’s misconduct. Continue reading

In many cases in which a defendant is charged with DWI, the bulk of the State’s evidence of the defendant’s guilt will consist of the results of breath tests taken shortly after the defendant was stopped by the police. Thus, if a defendant can prove that the test results are inaccurate or unreliable, they may be precluded from evidence, and the defendant may be found not guilty. In a recent New Jersey DWI action in which the defendant appealed his conviction on the belief that his breath tests may have been improperly administered, the court explained the standards for maintaining and evaluating the accuracy of breath tests. If you are a resident of New Jersey currently accused of driving while intoxicated in violation of the law, it is advisable to consult a proficient New Jersey DWI defense attorney to evaluate your case.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the defendant was involved in a multiple-vehicle accident that caused personal injuries. The police investigating the accident spoke with the defendant and noticed the smell of alcohol on his breath and administered a series of breath tests. After the tests indicated a blood alcohol content level in excess of the legal limit, the defendant was charged with DWI.

Allegedly, the defendant entered a conditional guilty plea at trial. Stipulations were entered into stating that the breath test machine was in working order, the first sample was taken at 6:44, and the second was taken at 6:46, and the test results reported a reading of .21. The defendant preserved his right to argue that the results of his breath samples were invalid, and, following his conviction, he appealed. Continue reading

The New Jersey criminal courts are tasked with handling a high volume of cases each year. Thus, to cut down on unnecessary hearings, the court allows some people who are charged with less serious offenses to enter into the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), thereby avoiding a trial and conviction. The defendant must establish certain elements in order to be eligible for PTI, however, as demonstrated in a recent New Jersey DWI opinion in which the appellate court ruled that the defendant’s alleged crimes rendered PTI an unsuitable remedy. If you live in New Jersey and are charged with a DWI offense, it is wise to speak to a zealous New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was involved in a collision outside of a fast-food restaurant. The police officer that responded to the scene observed the defendant sitting in his vehicle, with his fourteen-year-old son in the passenger seat. The officer spoke to the defendant and noticed a strong odor of alcohol on the defendant’s breath. As such, he asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety testing. The defendant consented and failed the tests. He was then transported to the police station, where a breath test revealed his BAC to be .21%. He was charged with DWI and numerous other driving offenses, as well as with second degree endangering the welfare of a child.

Allegedly, the defendant filed an application for admission into PTI. The criminal case manager recommended against his admission into the program, and his application was subsequently rejected. The matter then became before a trial judge, who overturned the rejection. The State then appealed.

Eligibility for Pretrial Intervention   Continue reading

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