You might think that you are done with the past, but it is often the case that the past is never quite done with you. For Garden State drivers who are stopped by either a New Jersey State Police trooper or a local police officer, there is more than a grain of truth in this simple statement. As New Jersey drunken driving defense attorneys representing motorists arrested in Monmouth, Passaic, Bergen and other counties around the state, we know how a simple traffic stop can escalate into a DWI arrest or something worse.
“Worse,” of course, is a relative term; but as experienced trial lawyers we understand that defending against a drunk driving or drug DUI charge can sometimes entail other aspects altogether. Take, for instance, the story of a Somerset, NJ, woman who was pulled over ostensibly for a typical traffic infraction, yet ended up in deep trouble with the law not so much for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol, but for possible identity theft 20 years prior.
According to news reports, 37-year-old Rocio Reyes-Chavez was stopped by Plainsboro police earlier this year when officers apparently observed the driver violating one or more local traffic laws. Once pulled over, the driver allegedly handed the officer in charge a driver’s license obtained following the theft of a Florida resident’s identity sometime in the early 1990s. At the time of the drunk driving stop, it was apparently not obvious to police that the woman was living under an assumed name.
According to Plainsboro Township police, the local party planner had already been charged with driving while intoxicated when they discovered that the woman was not who she claimed to be. It took a while, but when the alleged victim of that identity theft was notified of “her” DUI arrest, that Florida resident contacted Plainsboro police to explain that it was not she who was stopped, arrested and charged with DWI, but the identity thief herself.
Based on news reports, the resulting investigation showed that Reyes-Chavez actually had a valid New Jersey driver’s license as well as a number of bank accounts in the victim’s name. According to Plainsboro investigators, Reyes-Chavez had been using the victim’s identity for two decades.
As a result of the evidence, the woman was arrested and charged with identity theft, forgery and providing false information, as well as a number of other offenses. She was subsequently remanded to the Middlesex County jail on $2,500 bail.
It goes without saying that the drunken driving charge was likely the least of this person’s problems at that point. Without a doubt, if found to be true, following 20 years of getting by using another individual’s identity this alleged drunk driver may have pressed her luck one time too many.
As experienced DWI attorneys, my colleagues and I have seen many different types of drunk driving scenarios, some of which have been associated with other more serious crimes. Depending on the circumstances, the troubles caused by a DWI or drug DUI conviction may pale in comparison to the potential penalties for the other non-traffic-related offenses resulting from the initial police stop.
Needless to say, the choice of a qualified drunken driving lawyer can be key when it comes to the outcome of a complicated case where potentially serious consequences may await the defendant. It’s always best to consult an experienced attorney who knows the law and can advise the best course of action when facing a DWI-DUI charge.
Driving While Impersonating: DWI suspect flashed ID’s allegedly swiped 20 years ago; NJ.com; July 09, 2013 at 10:40 AM, updated July 9, 2013