With the days getting longer, many people already know that the summer driving season is fast on its way, and with it tens of thousands of vacationers — both local and out-of-state — heading to the Jersey Shore and other vacation venues. Now is the time when drinking and driving is a common topic in law enforcement circles throughout the state. Saturation patrols, drunken driving roadblocks and overall increases in anti-DWI enforcement are back as usual.
As highly experienced drunk driving defense lawyers, my colleagues and I have dedicated ourselves to assisting drivers who have been accused of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or impaired by prescription or illicit drugs. Certainly, there is a percentage of motorists charged with DWI or drug DUI that believe they do in no way deserve being accused of such offenses. In such cases, it is possible that police may have made a poor judgment call based on faulty observations. In other instances, whether the driver was truly intoxicated becomes a serious point of contention due to a possible procedural error on the officer’s part.
Improper procedure, such as that required when conducting a breathalyzer test, can have a significant impact on the outcome of a drunken driving case, which can ultimately result in a dismissal or reduction in the charges. If the prosecution cannot clearly show that the officer made a proper traffic stop to begin with, this is also a potential avenue for a motion to dismiss the charges against the defendant. Naturally, the details of the incident and the facts presented at trial will have a great bearing on the judge’s decision in the case.
While a great number of DWI-DUI arrests precipitate from the what are often routine traffic stops — incidents that take place every day across the Garden State — a small percentage of summonses for drunk driving are given out at roadside drunken driving checkpoints, or DWI roadblocks as they are sometimes referred. Police departments throughout New Jersey have the authority to set up sobriety checkpoints, though the law places limits on this types of DWI enforcement tool, which we have discussed at length in the past.
It could be said that roadblocks, like the one operated by the Evesham Twp. PD in early April, are designed more to dissuade drunk driving than to actually catch large numbers of intoxicated motorists. Based on a news article detailing the relative success of that particular roadside sobriety checkpoint, during the five-hour operation of that roadblock, patrolmen involved in that effort stopped a total of 48 vehicles, resulting in just two DWI arrests and three drug-related arrests.
How many drivers actually avoided that area of Evesham following the mandatory announcement prior to the effort is impossible to know; however, it is certain that this this community, and the others that take part in similar anti-DWI enforcement efforts, regularly get the word out that drunken driving will not be tolerated in their part of the state. This is likely why we see a continuous, albeit smaller procession of drivers in local courtrooms who have been charged with drunken driving or drug-related DUI at roadblocks throughout the Garden State.
Another example would be the string of arrests over in Glassboro, NJ, resulting from a DWI checkpoint (and some roving patrols) back in April as well. Of the 55 traffic-related summonses issued late on a Friday night/Saturday morning near Rowan University, four drivers were taken into custody for driving under the influence of alcohol, while one person was arrested for a narcotics-related offense, and seven motorists were cited for having an open alcoholic beverage container in their vehicle.
Cops in Evesham want you to be afraid to drive drunk, SouthJerseyLocalNews.com, May 1, 2014
Glassboro DWI checkpoint results in seven arrests, NJ.com, April 7, 2014