Middlesex County DWI Arrest Update: Other Approaches to Fighting New Jersey Drunken Driving Charges

It’s important to remember that a drunk driving arrest and subsequent DWI or drug DUI charges are not the end of the world. However, any time a person is picked up for driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while impaired due to prescription drugs one should always consult with a qualified DWI defense lawyer.

As New Jersey DWI-DUI defense attorneys, I and my staff have decades of experience in fighting for clients who have been accused of driving while intoxicated. Even those individuals who have been arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of illicit drugs, such as cocaine or marijuana, should speak with an experience legal professional to understand their rights under the law.

Here in the Garden State, whether you live in Ocean, Sussex or Monmouth County, the law considers you innocent until proven guilty. Fighting a DWI or DUI charge can be approached in many ways, depending on the individual circumstances. The following is a continuation of my earlier discussion on challenging a DWI arrest.

Rising Blood Alcohol Level
It’s may not seem logical, however it is possible for a motorist’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) to be measured at police headquarters sometime after the initial arrest and have a higher reading than if he or she had been measured at the scene of the traffic stop or sobriety roadblock.

How can this be? The fact is it takes an average of 50 minutes for alcohol that one has consumed to be fully absorbed in a person’s bloodstream. While this may seem like a long time, consider that it can take as long as three hours before a person reaches maximum BAC.

This is a critical point, especially if the drunken driving arrest occurs right after one has consumed the alcohol. In such cases, an individual’s BAC will likely still be rising at the time the police administer a breath test. In fact, even if your BAC was above 0.08 percent at the time of the blood draw or breath test, it could well have been under the legal threshold when you were actually on the road. (Because there is no law against having a BAC above 0.08 while at the police station, you might want to consult a drunk driving attorney to determine the best defense.

Inaccurate Blood-Breath Partition Ratio
Unknown to many people is the so-called “partition ratio” between blood and breath alcohol. Most drunken driving breath testing assumes a 2,100-to-one partition ratio, but this is not necessarily accurate for everyone accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. Ideally, every person should have their BAC measured based on “individual differences.” This rarely happens.

DWI breath testing assumes that “breath alcohol” accurately reflects blood alcohol based on the previously mentioned 2100-to-one partition ratio, however this assumption is based on the proposition that the average ratio across the entire population is that 2100:1. What can benefit an individual who has been charged with drunken driving based on a breathalyzer or Alcotest of 0.08 or higher is that studies have shown this ratio widely between individuals.

In fact, a DWI suspect with a ratio lower than 2100:1 will generate an inaccurately high BAC reading. Another interesting point: There is no way to determine what a given individual’s ratio actually is, and therefore what that person’s true BAC was at the time of the breath test.

Alcohol on Your Breath does NOT Spell Guilt
When a police officer explains in court why he a suspect was drunk at the time of the DWI arrest, he almost always will state that he detected “the strong odor of alcohol on the suspect’s breath.” But an experienced drunken driving defense lawyer can cross-examine the officer by asking if alcohol itself (ethanol) has an odor. What most people believe is the scent of alcohol is actually the “mixing agent” or flavoring that beverage manufacturers use to create various tastes.

For a live demonstration of this, the next time you visit a supermarket, purchase a six-pack of non-alcoholic beer. Although alcohol-free beer may taste and smell like regular beer, it actually contains no alcohol. Similarly, a person could drink a large amount of Vodka, which is colorless and flavorless yet certainly is alcoholic, and that individual’s breath would not smell of alcohol.

In fact, laboratory studies have shown that police officers’ perception of how strongly a person’s breath smells of alcohol simply does have any direct correlation to an individual’s actual BAC reading. Frankly, the only real information that can be gathered from the “smell of alcohol” on a person’s breath is that he or she likely consumed some kind of alcoholic beverage at some point prior to the arrest. More importantly, it does not provide evidence that the person consumed enough alcohol to be legally drunk.