It goes without saying that the annual anti-drunk driving campaigns, here in the Garden State as well as nationwide, are funded in part by the government in hopes that some alcohol-related traffic deaths and injuries might be avoided. Of course, there is always a question of how effective these efforts are and whether they result in catching those truly responsible for driving under the influence of alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs.
As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, I and my staff of qualified drunken driving lawyers meet numerous individuals every month, many of whom have been accused of driving while intoxicated. A percentage of these drivers have likely been charged by police with DWI on shaky grounds, while others may legitimately believe that they were actually sober at the time of their arrest.
A fair number of DWI and drug DUI arrests occur during the annual “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” drunk driving enforcement effort. In order to get a sufficient number of drunk driving patrols on the street and to have enough officers to man the various sobriety checkpoints that tend to pop up all over the state during these campaigns, local police agencies receive funding in order to offset the added costs of manpower and equipment.
Whether you live in Hudson, Sussex, Monmouth or Passaic County, as a motorist you have no doubt seen or been aware of the increased police presence on highways and surface streets throughout the state during these enhanced enforcement efforts. According to news reports, towns like Glen Ridge, NJ, participated in the recent “Click It or Ticket” seatbelt enforcement campaign.
Although not focused on drunken driving per se, police nonetheless had the opportunity to observe each driver up close following traffic stops for seatbelt violations, a primary offense here in New Jersey. Of the 108 traffic citations issued during the period from late May to early June 5, less than two percent of the motorists pulled over were issued summonses for drinking and driving.
Following a traffic-related police stop, a patrolman might suspect that a driver has been drinking based on cues that the motorist gives off or exhibits, such as watery eyes, slurred speech or drowsy appearance. It is at this point that the officer may request the driver to step out of the vehicle and perform one or several of the standardized field sobriety tests.
Failing one or more of these tests, could give the officer sufficient cause to believe is, in fact drunk, and the driver may be taken into custody, charged with DWI and asked to submit to a breath test to determine his or her blood-alcohol content, or BAC. If the driver “blows” a BAC reading of 0.08 percent or more, this gives the local prosecutor’s office evidence that the driver was indeed driving under the influence of alcohol, strengthening the state’s case in court.
The latest “Click It or Ticket” campaign funded more than 400 police departments and other law enforcement agencies across New Jersey. While the number of DWI arrests was minimal, if the Glen Ridge results are any indication, the Labor Day anti-drunken driving effort will likely net many more Garden State drivers who may end up being charged with DWI or drug DUI.
Glen Ridge police issue 108 traffic tickets during annual campaign, NorthJersey.com, August 11, 2011