First off, and we’ve said it here countless times, whether a motorist is arrested and charged with DWI in Atlantic, Essex, Hudson or Bergen County, the consequences of a drunken driving conviction are the same across the Garden State and a conviction can be very damaging to an individual’s personal relationships, business career and standing in his or her community. With that said, it’s important to mention that being charged with DWI and being convicted for drunken driving are two separate things.
Drunk driving penalties aside, no one wants to have a DWI or drug DUI on their record. And while most people would choose to fight an impaired driving charge in court, the ones who go it alone take a big gamble without representation. In fact, there are instances where a motorist may not think that he or she has much to worry about because their breath test results were under the so-called legal limit of 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content (BAC), yet the prosecution may have the upper hand.
As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, we know drunk driving law and see it in action on a daily basis. Being familiar with the various jurisdictions across the state can also be an advantage, although the law is the same regardless of the county in which one is arrested. We also handle drug DUI cases, which can include impaired driving while on prescription medication, as well as marijuana possession in a vehicle and other kinds of DUI, such as those cases related to use of controlled dangerous substances (CDS).
Our suggestion to any motorists facing a drunken driving charge is to not make an already bad situation worse by trying to defend yourself. Find a qualified drunk driving defense attorney and let his or her experience work for you.
In the case of our hypothetical driver being confident that a BAC reading below 0.08 percent will mean an acquittal, it’s never a good idea to assume victory before all the facts are in. Earlier this year our firm handled a case for a client who was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol out in Monmouth County, although that person’s BAC was under the so-called limit.
This was the motorist’s first drunk driving arrest, and while there wasn’t what the law defines as a “per se” violation of the state’s drunken driving law based on the 0.08 percent BAC limit, this individual did register a 0.07 percent BAC on the breathalyzer. For an individual representing himself alone in court, the chances of being convicted based on other evidence could be fairly high.
The reason is that a prosecuting attorney may still be able to prove a driver was legally drunk at the time by basing their argument on the psycho-physical tests administered as part of the NHTSA-approved field sobriety testing procedures.
These tests are typically performed by patrolmen in the field when a driver is initially suspected of driving while impaired. If the driver fails these tests, the typical next step is arrest and a trip to police headquarters for a breath test using an Alcotest or other approved breathalyzer machine.
In this particular case in Monmouth County, our attorneys were able to pinpoint significant issues with the specific breath test device used to measure our client’s BAC. Finding fault with that machine, as well as the prosecuting attorneys being unable to prove our client was drunk at the time based solely on field sobriety tests, meant that the case was eventually dismissed.