As attorneys dedicated to representing individuals accused of operating a motor vehicle under the influence, I and my staff of experienced DWI defense lawyers have known more than a few drivers who have avoided a conviction for drunken driving here in the Garden State. While most arrests for DWI or drug DUI — including those for impaired driving due to prescription drugs and illicit substances like cocaine and cannabis — result in a conviction leading to heavy penalties, there are other instances where the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to obtain a guilty verdict.
And, while we know that not every DWI or DUI summons is warranted or deserved, we also are concerned when civil servants occasionally break the very laws that they are sworn to uphold. Whether it is avoiding a drunk driving charge altogether or side-stepping stiff fines and other penalties for driving while intoxicated, the average person hardly has the option of avoiding a DWI hearing and many times feels he must navigate our legal system in the absence of legal representation. (We will say right here that it is in most everyone’s best interest to, at the very least, consult with a qualified DWI attorney following an arrest for being drunk behind the wheel.)
From time to time, we see justice being served on local politicians and government officials who have been found guilty of breaking the laws of New Jersey and local communities. Just as the average citizen must face their accusers, local officials, patrolmen and other officers of the court should stand trial for their misdeeds, take responsibility for their actions and accept any consequences should they be found guilty.
As New Jersey DWI lawyers, my firm helps those drivers who have been accused of driving while intoxicated, operating a vehicle while impaired by prescription or illicit drugs (drug DUI), breath test refusal, and other alcohol-related charges in counties such as Bergen, Atlantic, Essex and Hunterdon. Regardless of one’s professional status, socio-economic level, age or ethnicity, every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Earlier last fall, a committeeman from the Princeton Township was found guilty of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol. According to news reports, the 50-year-old township official was involved in a highway accident during the early morning hours on Rte 95 after a night out with friends in Philadelphia. Based on court records, the defendant fell asleep behind the wheel of his car just before he reportedly sideswiped a commercial truck a little before 2am.
Apparently, the accused committeeman decided to appear early in court due to avoid the “media frenzy” that was reportedly swirling around him following the crash. Instead of waiting for his court date, the defendant appeared in front of a judge and pled guilty to the charges, which included DUI, as well as refusing a Breathalyzer test. Initial charges of reckless driving and unsafe lane change were reportedly dismissed by the court.
The crash, which reportedly was caused by the defendant being exhausted and falling asleep behind the wheel, took place on August 9 in Mercer County and involved a semi tractor-trailer. Fortunately for the defendant, there were no injuries or fatalities as a result. The man did admit to police that he had a few beers prior to driving home from a restaurant in Pennsylvania; however, he maintained that he was not drunk at the time of the accident.
According to news reports, the driver did not know that refusing a breathalyzer test would not only result in a drunken driving charge but also a separate charge of breath test refusal. Having reportedly been unable reach an agreement with the local prosecutor’s office, the accused’s trial had been set for early October; however, the defendant decided to appear in court earlier to plead guilty.
Although his name never appeared on the public docket, according to news articles, the court did allow him to make that unscheduled appearance. This is something that occurs from time to time at the court’s discretion. The guilty plea meant that he would take a seven-month license suspension and pay a fine of at least $1,000.
Liverman Pleads Guilty to DUI, Patch.com, September 27, 2012