Articles Posted in Breath Test Refusal

We’ve discussed this in previous posts, but it bears repeating once again: The police do not have the legal right to stop a motorist simply because an officer assumes or guesses that the individual behind the wheel is possibly intoxicated. This goes back to the basic New Jersey DWI statutes, which state that a law enforcement officer must have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a driver has committed a moving violation or other vehicle infraction in order to make a traffic stop.

As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, my legal team has a great deal of experience in this area. Quite often, motorists contact my firm with the intention of fighting a drunk driving summons or charges related to some other alcohol or drug-related traffic offense. As part of our investigation, we research the facts of the case in order to determine if there were any basic procedural violations on the patrolman’s part. More than once we have found that an officer has made erroneous assumptions about the defendant or his driving style, which then led to a faulty or improper police stop and DWI arrest.

If it can be shown that the officer acted improperly or based the initial traffic stop on less-than-appropriate grounds, there is a good chance that the court will entertain a motion to have the drunk driving charge dismissed or the charges reduced. Unfortunately, many proper police stops come about due to a motorist’s own driving error, which if observed by a municipal cop or state trooper, may result in a roadside stop. If alcohol is involved, there is high likelihood that a summons for driving under the influence will be issued.
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Many hundreds of Garden State drivers are pulled over every month by police officers, during which a certain percentage of those individuals are accused of driving while under the influence of alcohol. Although a fair number of motorists are routinely convicted of DWI or drug DUI, there are many defendants who avoid a guilty verdict, as well as the stiff monetary penalties that come with it. Law enforcement officers certainly have a difficult and many times dangers job to perform, but they are not always correct in their assessment of some supposedly drunken drivers.

As experienced New Jersey trial attorneys, my colleagues and I have great respect for our men and women in uniform. But there are instances when we must stand back and consider the occasional downside that comes with the great authority that we give our municipal patrolmen and state troopers. It is because law enforcement officials have such power — to arrest and charge citizens with driving offenses and more egregious crimes — that we must hold them to a higher standard, understanding at the same time the challenging nature of their position.

In particular, as DWI defense lawyers, we find it hard to accept the illegal behavior of some policemen when it comes to drinking and driving. From our standpoint, having defended hundreds of motorists against charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), it is unconscionable when a patrolman violates the very laws that he or she is responsible to enforce. Quite simply, there is never a good excuse for a law enforcement officer to be arrested for drinking and driving, yet this can and does happen from time to time.
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Most motorists, when charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, usually experience trepidation when facing an upcoming hearing to decide their guilt or innocence. Entering a courtroom without a firm knowledge of the law pertaining to DWI or drug DUI can be a misstep for many people, which can often lead to a conviction and all the associated fines, fees and assessments as provided by New Jersey’s drunk driving statutes.

As Garden State drunken driving defense attorneys, my staff of skilled trial lawyers understands how the state’s case — as pursued by many municipal prosecutors — can turn on the lack of evidence collected by the police during a DWI or DUI traffic stop. While some motorists may understand how the law works, many more can be at some disadvantage when they face a judge alone as the prosecuting attorney brings point after point in support of a guilty verdict.

As a former municipal prosecutor myself, I have worked on the other side of the aisle as advocate for the state. This background, which I share with several other members of my law firm, gives me additional insight into numerous strategies and legal tactics that the state may employ to obtain a drunk driving conviction. Of course, much of what counts as evidence in a DWI or drug DUI case is attained by police at the roadside, as well as back at police headquarters.
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Talk to most any person who has been convicted of drunken driving in the Garden State and you will most likely hear about the ordeal of having one’s breath tested in order to obtain a blood-alcohol content (BAC) measurement. As we have explained numerous times in this forum, breath test results are often a key point of evidence for any municipal prosecutor looking to convict a motorist on DWI charges.

There is no doubt that the uninitiated — that is, drivers who have never been stopped by a police officer and arrested for driving while intoxicated — may not have an appreciation for all of the aspects of a drunk driving or drug DUI police stop. As Garden State DWI defense lawyers, my staff can explain to potential clients the various steps that a patrolman or state trooper should take when initiating a traffic stop, evaluating a suspected drunken driver, and making an arrest when an offense is believes to have taken place.

Dozens of drunk driving arrests happen all across New Jersey every week in counties such as Middlesex, Monmouth, Atlantic and Bergen. When a driver is stopped for a moving violation, if the officer in charge observes any signs of impairment, regardless of whether the individual is truly intoxicated, the officer may request that the motorist perform one or more of the standardized field sobriety tests as established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
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As DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, the legal team at my firm has made it their job to represent those Garden State drivers who have been charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, doctor-prescribed meds, and even illegal substances (also known as controlled dangerous substances or CDS). As experienced trial lawyers, we certainly understand how quickly an average motorist can find himself in the custody of a local cop or state trooper after being arrested for allegedly driving while intoxicated.

Here in New Jersey, DWI enforcement can be such that more than a few otherwise law-abiding citizens can end up before a judge pleading their innocence on a drunken driving or drug DWI charge. Especially when anti-drunk driving campaigns are going full tilt, but even when things may seem to be mostly quiet arrests can and do occur quite frequently. Hundreds of roadside stops for traffic violations are made every day around this state, and a percent of those may end up with a driver taken into police headquarters for a breath test.

Of course, New Jersey is in no way unique, but it certainly does see its fair share of inebriated drivers plying the roadways. Whether those motorists are legally drunk is for a court to decide, which is why we recommend that anyone accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs talk to a qualified legal expert in the field of drunk driving law.
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Being charged with DWI is not a something that any driver welcomes, but occasionally a motorist faced with the possibility of a drunken driving summons will choose to decline the usual police request for a breath sample. To many people, given the option of providing or not providing a law enforcement officer with a breathalyzer sample seems like a no-brainer.

Some drivers may think, “Why provide the cops with any evidence that could be possibly be held against me later in court? If they give me the option, of course I’ll opt to refuse.” But is this the best choice? Many times the consequences of withholding a breath sample can be just as costly as being charged with a DWI due to a blood-alcohol content (BAC) reading over 0.08 percent.

As New Jersey drunk driving defense attorneys, my staff and I have represented hundreds of individuals in court, many of who have been accused of driving while intoxicated by alcohol, impaired driving while under the influence of doctor-prescribed drugs, or the aforementioned breath test refusal.
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Given the population, as well as the number of motor vehicles in the Garden State, there are a fair number of drunken driving arrests that occur every month all across the state. In counties such as Middlesex, Passaic, Ocean and Cape May, throughout the year local police officers and state troopers alike make dozens of alcohol and drug-related arrests every week following routine traffic stops.

As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, we understand that being pulled over for even the most simple of driving infractions can open the door to drunk driving or drug-related DUI charges. When a motorist receives a DWI or DUI-related summons, the clock starts ticking toward a court date, a possible conviction and potentially hefty monetary fines and other penalties.

It seems that no matter where one looks in the news, there is always some story that grabs the reader’s attention regarding an alcohol- or drug-related arrest on one of New Jersey’s roadways. The ubiquitous police blotter pages can be an interesting source of information on what not to do if one has a drink or two under their belt.
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As professional trial attorneys, my colleagues and I have a great deal of respect for our men and women in uniform: the soldiers in our military who fight for our nation in conflicts abroad, and the law enforcement and emergency services personnel who maintain order and protect the health and safety of citizens here in the Garden State and elsewhere throughout our country.

In fact, as a former municipal prosecutor myself, I have worked closely with police officers and other New Jersey law enforcement officials to uphold our state and federal legal statutes. I fully understand the dedication and sacrifice that those in law enforcement provide to our communities on a daily basis. But, while I respect and admire the efforts and selfless commitment of our police officers as a whole, I also know that there can be some bad apples in every bushel.

There is a line we all must draw when a public servant breaks the laws he has been sworn to uphold. As citizens, each of us should expect every public official, including patrolmen, to carry themselves with dignity even when off duty. The vast majority of police, judiciary and legislative representatives in this state are a credit to their individual professions as they go about their lives being the exemplary role models that the rest of us can appreciate and emulate.
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In our line of work there is no lack of odd circumstances that arise when considering the range of cases involving drunken driving or drug DUI. Here in the Garden State, police agencies and the officers who work for them are not the least bit sympathetic to drivers who even have merest appearance of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. While this can sometimes result in a motorist being arrested erroneously for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, other DWI arrests are much more legitimate. However this doesn’t mean that nothing can be done when the time comes to go before a judge.

Whatever the circumstances, as a New Jersey law firm providing legal representation to individuals charged with one or more of any number of drunk driving offenses, we highly recommend consulting a qualified DWI trial attorney before taking one step into a courtroom. There is no excuse, with free consultations available from many reputable DWI lawyers, that any person accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription medication not be informed about his or her rights under the law.

Of course, as we stated previously, there are exceptional or at least odd circumstances where a motorist may find himself arrested for DWI-DUI following a police stop. Such was apparently the case a short while back when a Middlesex County man was taken into custody and charged with drunk driving after a police officer noticed a vehicle parked in a restricted area of the Mountainview state prison off Petticoat Lane in Hunterdon County, NJ.
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As drunk driving defense attorneys, I and my staff of skilled trial lawyers have been representing motorists accused of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated for many years. Here in the Garden State, there are many different ways in which to be charged with some kind of alcohol-related driving offense. As a former municipal prosecuting attorney, and now as a DWI defense lawyer, I understand that some individuals should never have been accused of drunken driving in the first place, while others simply could benefit from the representation that my law offices provide.

Although some people may consider a straight DWI-DUI charge as the worst possible accusation that a driver could receive from the police, it is equally serious when a motorist — for whatever reason — chooses not to submit to a breath test when a police officer requests it. For this reason, I and my colleagues always recommend that anyone having been charged with breath test refusal seek an experienced drunk driving attorney before they step foot in a courtroom.

While it may seem to be a good choice to some drivers, refusing to submit to a breath test here in the Garden State is usually treated with the same enthusiasm by prosecutors as any other DWI or DUI arrest. As we tell many of our clients who choose this route, breathalyzer refusal a serious offense that one cannot afford to take without proper legal representation.
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