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Although many people think of DWI arrests as arising out of the operation of a vehicle while intoxicated due to the consumption of alcohol, a person can be charged with a DWI for driving or operating a vehicle while under the influence of other substances that impairs his or her ability to drive safely, such as marijuana. Recently, an appellate court in New Jersey discussed what is considered adequate evidence to convict a defendant of a marijuana-related DWI offense. If you live in New Jersey and are charged with a marijuana-related DWI, it is advisable to consult a New Jersey DWI defense attorney dedicated to helping DWI defendants protect their interests.

Factual Background

It is reported that the defendant was stopped after an officer observed him drifting over the double yellow line on a highway. When the officer approached the vehicle, he reportedly smelled both raw and burnt marijuana. The defendant’s speech was slow and slurred, and he reported that he was swerving because he was trying to avoid potholes. The defendant denied smoking marijuana and stated that someone else had driven his vehicle. The officer administered field sobriety tests, which the defendant failed. The officer then searched the defendant’s vehicle and found a bag of marijuana, an e-cigarette with a marijuana concentrate cartridge, and two marijuana cigars. The defendant was arrested and charged with DWI and other related offenses. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing the evidence was insufficient to convict him of DWI.

Evidence Sufficient to Convict, a Defendant of a Marijuana-Related DWI Offense

On appeal, the defendant argued, in part, that the trial court erred in allowing the arresting officer to testify as an expert witness, violating his due process rights. The appellate court disagreed, finding that the State did not introduce the officer as an expert witness at trial, but that during the appeal to the Law Division it argued that the officer should be regarded as an expert due to the extent of his skills, training, and experience, and the Law Division agreed. The court noted that under New Jersey law, police officers can be qualified as experts on marijuana intoxication, due to their training. Thus, the court found that no reversible error occurred. Continue reading

An issue commonly disputed in New Jersey DWI cases is whether the State has sufficient evidence to establish that the defendant was operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Due to several recent unpublished opinions set forth by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey, the court set forth a published opinion in which it clarified in explicit terms what constitutes operation for the purposes of a DWI conviction. If you reside in New Jersey and are faced with DWI charges it is prudent to confer with a vigilant New Jersey DWI defense attorney to assess what options you may exercise to protect your rights.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

It is alleged that the police were called to a grocery store parking lot to investigate the defendant, who was sleeping in his car with the engine running. The officer awoke the defendant, who smelled like alcohol and advised that he had been sleeping for about half an hour. The officer also observed several prescription pill bottles on the passenger seat. The defendant agreed to submit to numerous field sobriety tests, all of which he failed. As such, he was arrested and charged with DWI and refusing to submit to a breath test. Following a trial, he was convicted on both charges. He then appealed, arguing that the State could not prove he was operating his vehicle at the time of his arrest.

Operating a Vehicle Under the New Jersey DWI Statute

On appeal, the court noted that while a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a) is usually referred to as a DWI, the statute does not actually mention driving as an element of the crime that must be proven in order to obtain a conviction. Rather, the statute merely prohibits a person from operating a vehicle while under the influence. The court noted that operation has been broadly interpreted and includes more than just driving. In other words, it includes sleeping or sitting in a car with the engine running, even if the car is not moving. Continue reading

One of the tenets of criminal law is that a defendant has the right to a fair and impartial trial. Thus, if a DWI defendant believes that a judge is unduly prejudiced or biased against the defendant, he or she can file a motion for recusal. Recusal is only granted in limited circumstances, however, as demonstrated in a recent case in which a New Jersey appellate court affirmed the defendant’s DWI conviction following the denial of a motion for recusal. If you are faced with DWI charges, it is advisable to meet with a proficient DWI defense attorney to discuss the rights you are afforded under the law.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with DWI in December 2017. The matter was listed for a hearing in May 2018; however, the defendant’s attorney failed to appear due to a medical issue. The day prior to the hearing, an associate from the defendant’s attorney’s office informed the court that none of the attorneys from the firm were available to represent the defendant at the hearing, and no one would appear on behalf of the defendant.

Allegedly, during the hearing, the judge expressed concern regarding the scheduling issue and the late notice provided by the defendant’s attorney regarding his inability to appear. The matter was relisted. At the subsequent hearing, the defendant’s case was not addressed by the court until several hours after it was scheduled to be heard. The defendant’s attorney expressed concerns that the delay was punishment for his failure to appear at the earlier hearing. He further stated he believed the judge had a conflict of interest and filed a motion for recusal. The motion for recusal was ultimately denied, and the defendant entered a conditional guilty plea. The defendant’s sentence was stayed pending appeal.

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One of the key elements of a New Jersey DWI charge is the operation of a vehicle. If the State is unable to prove this element, a person charged with DWI should not be convicted. The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, recently re-affirmed, however, that operation is not limited to actually driving a vehicle, and a defendant can be found to be operating a vehicle even if the vehicle was in park at the time of the police’s investigation into the matter. If you are charged with DWI, even though you did not drive a vehicle while intoxicated, you should consult a proficient New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert.

Factual Background

It is reported that a police officer observed the defendant sleeping in the driver’s seat of a car that was parked in the lot of a convenience store. The car was parked properly, but the engine was running. The officer attempted to wake the defendant many times before he finally awoke. When the defendant opened his window, he smelled of alcohol. It took him several attempts to turn off his vehicle, and his conversation with the officer was incoherent.

It is alleged that the officer performed field sobriety tests on the defendant, which the defendant failed. He was subsequently arrested and charged with DWI and reckless driving. He was convicted of DWI, second offense. He then appealed, arguing that the State failed to prove he operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Continue reading

In many instances, even if a person is convicted of DWI, he or she may be able to obtain post-conviction relief. While there are substantive requirements a person must meet to obtain a reversal of a DWI conviction, there are procedural requirements as well. This was discussed in a recent case in which the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, affirmed the denial of a defendant’s petition for post-conviction relief, due to the defendant’s extreme delay in seeking such relief. If you were previously convicted of DWI or currently face DWI charges, it is wise to speak with a New Jersey DWI defense attorney to your options for protecting your rights.

Background of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant pled guilty to two separate DWI charges twenty-eight and twenty-five years before he filed two petitions for post-conviction relief in 2018, asking the court to allow him to withdraw his guilty pleas. The defendant argued, in part, that he was not represented by an attorney for the first conviction, and that for both convictions, the court did not elicit the factual basis for either conviction, and he was not informed of his potential defenses or the consequences of entering a guilty plea. The municipal court denied the petitions, after which the defendant appealed. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed.

Procedural Requirements for Seeking Post-Conviction Relief

Under New Jersey law, any petition seeking post-conviction relief must be filed within five years after a conviction is entered, or a sentence is imposed, unless the defendant can demonstrate that the delay in filing was due to his or her excusable neglect. In the subject case, the defendant argued that the delay was caused by his lack of knowledge regarding the law and his ignorance of the consequence of DWI convictions. Thus, the court found that the defendant failed to establish that his neglect in filing the petitions in a timely manner was excusable. Continue reading

When some people are stopped by the police due to suspicion of DWI, they may be tempted to avoid exiting their vehicles, under the mistaken belief that they can avoid a DWI charge by refusing to submit to field sobriety testing. However, as demonstrated in a recent case ruled on by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, an officer’s observations of a person in a vehicle may be sufficient for there to be reasonable suspicion that the person is guilty of DWI. If you are charged with a DWI crime in New Jersey, it is sensible to meet with a New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss your potential defenses.

Factual Background

It is reported that a police officer observed the defendant making a turn into the wrong lane of traffic. He pulled the defendant over, at which time he noticed a strong smell of alcohol emanating from her car, and that her eyes were bloodshot and watery. The officer asked the defendant to exit the vehicle to perform field sobriety testing and she refused. Two other officers responded to the scene, and each independently requested the defendant to exit the vehicle to submit to field sobriety testing, and she once again refused. She was ultimately arrested for obstructing the administration of the law and transported to the police station.

Allegedly, while at the police station, the defendant submitted to a breath test that revealed her blood alcohol content to be 0.91%. She was charged with DWI, reckless driving, and obstructing the administration of the law. She was found guilty of all charges and appealed, arguing in part that the police lacked reasonable suspicion to order her out of her car or probable cause to arrest her. Continue reading

In most New Jersey DWI cases, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed each element of a crime. In cases in which the defendant pleads guilty, however, the State’s burden differs. Thus, it is critical for someone considering entering a guilty plea to fully understand the ramifications of the plea and how the plea may affect his or her defenses thereafter. This was demonstrated in a recent New Jersey DWI case in which the defendant was convicted after he pled guilty and then argued that the State did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the crime. If you are charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey, it is advisable to engage a trusted New Jersey DWI defense attorney who will work hard to protect your rights.

Facts and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with his second DWI offense. He filed a motion to dismiss the charge, arguing that the State could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty. A municipal court hearing was held on the motion, during which the officer that arrested the defendant testified that he observed the defendant asleep in the driver’s seat of his car, with the engine running and the lights on, at a gas station in the middle of the night. Further, he testified that the windshield was smashed and the front bumper was damaged. When the officer woke the defendant, he had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and smelled of alcohol. He subsequently submitted to field sobriety tests, which he failed.

Allegedly, the defendant testified that on the night of his arrest, he hit a deer and then drove to a gas station and called his mother. He stated that while he was waiting for his mother, he drank four beers from a six-pack he had in his car. The municipal court judge did not find the defendant’s story to be credible and denied his motion to dismiss. The defendant appealed, and the Law Division affirmed, finding sufficient circumstantial evidence that the defendant operated his vehicle, after which the defendant entered a conditional guilty plea. He was sentenced, then appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss. Continue reading

Under New Jersey law, there are defined procedures the police must adhere to when administering a breath test to a DWI defendant to determine the defendant’s blood-alcohol level. If the police deviate from the procedures set forth under the law, the results of the test may be invalid. In a recent case, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, elaborated on the requirements regarding continuous observation prior to a breath test, and ultimately denied the defendant’s appeal of his DWI conviction. If you live in New Jersey and are charged with a DWI offense, it is critical to retain a skillful New Jersey DWI defense attorney who will fight vigorously on your behalf.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Arrest and Breath Test

It is alleged that a police officer approached the defendant’s car, which was parked on the side of the road, after which the officer observed that the defendant smelled like alcohol and had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. The defendant admitted to consuming several beers at a nearby bar. The officer did not perform a field sobriety test but charged the defendant with DWI. The defendant was transported to a police station where he was placed in a holding cell. The officer sat outside the cell a few feet away to make sure the defendant did not eat or drink anything that could alter the results of a breath test.

Reportedly, approximately twenty minutes later, a second officer administered Alcotest, a breath test, which revealed the defendant’s blood-alcohol level to be 0.22%. The defendant was convicted of DWI, which was his third DWI offense, and sentenced to 180 days imprisonment and a ten-year license suspension. The defendant appealed, arguing, inter alia, that the arresting officer did not observe the defendant for twenty minutes prior to administering Alcotest as required by law. Continue reading

In many instances in which a defendant is charged with a DWI offense, the key disputed issue is whether the defendant actually operated a vehicle while intoxicated. Thus, in many cases, the prosecution will seek to introduce circumstantial evidence that suggests the defendant was driving prior to his or her arrest. Any court considering what evidence should be admitted must conduct a balancing test between whether the evidence is relevant or unduly prejudicial. However, the introduction of inappropriate evidence may constitute a violation of the defendant’s rights. This was evidenced in a recent case in which the court overturned a verdict convicting the defendant of multiple DWI related crimes due to the admission of inappropriate hearsay evidence. If you are a resident of New Jersey currently faced with DWI charges, it is important to retain an assertive New Jersey DWI defense attorney who will fight to protect your rights.

The Defendant’s Charges and Convictions

It is reported that the defendant was charged with driving during a license suspension for a second or subsequent DWI, DWI, and numerous other traffic offenses. The main issue at trial was whether the defendant actually operated the vehicle prior to his arrest. The defendant presented testimony from his wife that she was driving and left the defendant by the side of the road after an argument. Conversely, the State presented testimony from the arresting officer that he was dispatched after a 911 call reporting that an intoxicated male had crashed his vehicle and was stuck on the side of the road.

Following the trial, the defendant was convicted of all counts and sentenced to 365 days in jail for the crime of driving with a suspended license and 180 days in jail for the DWI. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in admitting hearsay testimony regarding the 911 call. Upon review, the appellate court agreed, finding the testimony was hearsay and unduly prejudicial, and reversed the defendant’s convictions. Continue reading

A person charged with a DWI has the right to a prompt resolution of his or her case. Thus, if the State unjustly delays prosecution of a case, it may result in a dismissal. A DWI defendant seeking dismissal of his or her charges due to a delay must prove certain criteria, however. In a recent case, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey examined the factors assessed in evaluating whether a DWI defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated. If you are faced with charges of a DWI offense, it is prudent to consult a seasoned attorney to discuss your rights and your options for seeking a favorable result.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

A police officer stopped the defendant for failing to stay within the lines of the road. When the officer approached the defendant’s vehicle, he noted an odor of alcohol emanating from the vehicle and from the defendant’s breath. The defendant underwent a series of field sobriety tests, which he was unable to perform. He was arrested for DWI, and he agreed to submit to a breath test, but he did not produce enough breath for the police to obtain an accurate reading. He was charged with DWI and numerous other charges.

In October 2016, the defendant pleaded not guilty and demanded a speedy trial. The trial was continually delayed, however. The defendant filed multiple motions to dismiss on the ground that his right to a speedy trial was violated, but the motions were denied. Then, in 2018, the defendant filed a conditional guilty plea to the DWI charge, and the remaining charges were dismissed. The defendant then appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss to the law division. The law division affirmed, and the defendant appealed to the Superior Court.

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