Being charged with drunken driving is no laughing matter, but heaping other offenses on top of a DWI really not desirable. Quite frankly, it is in most people’s best interests to take their fight to a court of law, rather than express anger — physically or verbally — toward the arresting officer. Of course, nobody is perfect and human nature can get the best of anyone during a tense and stressful situation such as a drunk driving arrest.
As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, I and my staff understand the that tempers can run high during a traffic stop, especially if the accused motorist believes he was in the right. Having had a glass of wine or a beer prior to the police stop can lead to a possible arrest for driving while intoxicated, so it is best to try and keep one’s head during such instances. But there are even worse situations in which a driver might find himself.
We were reminded of this by a news article a while back in which a driver was accused of multiple traffic offenses, driving under the influence being one of them. But in this particular case, the motorist also allegedly hit an officer’s patrol car prior to the arrest. Now, we don’t have to tell most people that being involved in a traffic accident while allegedly drunk behind the wheel is not the world’s best scenario when it comes to defending a DWI charge.
If a vehicle collision is intentional, there could even be worse consequences than if the drunk driving-related crash was deemed an accident. Such cases where a driver is found to have intentionally hit another car or person on foot can lead to additional and serous charges including vehicular assault. If the crash results in a death, it is entirely possible that the accused may end up being found guilty of vehicular homicide.
Being drunk at the time likely would complicate the defendant’s case, which all the more points to the need for retaining an experienced trial attorney skilled in representing drivers accused of DWI and other even more serious offenses. Here in New Jersey, if injuries are tied to a charge of DWI-related vehicular assault, this can amount to a fourth degree crime, which carries penalties of up to 18 months in state prison and a fine up to $10,000. For reference, if such an event occurred within a school zone, the offense rises to a third degree crime, which carries with it a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a monetary fine upward of $150,000.
As we mentioned, in these types of scenarios there is absolutely no reason not to consider contacting a qualified trial lawyer to assist in one’s defense. The news reports that brought this to mind talked about a 24-year-old man from Warren County, NJ, who was allegedly drunk when his operating his vehicle around midnight on a stretch of Rte 27 in South Brunswick. At that time, the driver was allegedly speeding when his vehicle rear-ended a local patrol car, causing massive damage to both vehicles.
Police reports indicated that the force of the impact caused the police cruiser to be spun 180 degrees as it was forced across the several lanes of the highway and into a utility pole. Following the collision, the motorist allegedly attempted to leave the scene on foot, however the patrolman was able to extricate himself from his damaged vehicle and catch the driver before other officers arrived. Both the officer and the accused drunken driver were transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for treatment of their injuries.
As a result of the wreck, the motorist was taken into custody and charged with an array of offenses, including vehicular assault, DWI, possession of less than 50 grams of weed, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) in a motor vehicle, having an open alcoholic beverage in his vehicle and reckless driving. Considering the extent of the charges and the severity of the car crash, it was surprising to more than one person that the court set bail at just $250.
Photos: Police release mugshot of DWI suspect charged with ramming police car in South Brunswick; NJ.com; January 22, 2013