Articles Posted in DWI Appeal

When a person is charged with a DWI crime, it does not necessarily mean that he or she will be convicted. To the contrary, in some cases, the State’s evidence will be insufficient, or the State will be precluded from introducing evidence against the defendant, due to the manner in which it was obtained. In some cases, even if the State can prove that a defendant drove while intoxicated, the defendant may be able to avoid a conviction by arguing the affirmative defense of necessity. In a recent DWI case, the appellate division of the Superior Court of New Jersey discussed what a defendant alleging necessity must prove to avoid a guilty verdict.  If you are charged with a DWI crime, it is wise to speak to an experienced attorney regarding your available defenses.

Facts and Proceedings of the Underlying Case

Allegedly, police officers found the defendant asleep in the driver’s seat of her car in the parking lot of a grocery store. Her lights were on, and the keys were in the ignition. When the officers questioned the defendant, they noticed a strong odor of alcohol, and she admitted to drinking seven shots of liquor. She was arrested for DWI, and a breath sample revealed her BAC to be .19%. She was charged with DWI and reckless driving. She pleaded guilty to the DWI charge and was sentenced.

The defendant subsequently filed a motion to vacate her guilty plea, arguing the defense of necessity. The court denied her motion, and the defendant appealed to the Law Division. Her appeal to the Law Division was also denied, after which she appealed to the Superior Court. On review, the Superior Court affirmed the lower courts’ decisions, finding, in part, that the defendant failed to prove that the elements of necessity required a reversal.

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Multiple DWI convictions can result in severe consequences, including the loss of a driver’s license. Thus, it is prudent for anyone charged with DWI to consult an attorney to discuss which defenses may be available to help avoid a conviction or reduce any penalties. This was demonstrated in a recent case, in which a defendant sought to appeal a prior DWI conviction that was entered following a hearing during which he was not represented by counsel. If you were recently charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey, a trusted New Jersey DWI defense attorney can discuss the steps that you can take to protect your rights.

Facts of the Underlying Case

The defendant was arrested and charged with DWI in 2003. He appeared before the court without counsel and entered a guilty plea. During the hearing, the judge advised the defendant of the consequences of entering a guilty plea and explained the impact of multiple convictions. The judge did not advise the defendant, however, that he had the right to request that the court appoint an attorney to defend him if he could not afford to retain counsel. The defendant entered a guilty plea, regardless. The defendant was subsequently charged with and convicted of two other DWI crimes. For his third offense, he received a 10-year license suspension.

In 2016, the defendant was arrested for operating a vehicle with a license that was suspended for a second or subsequent DWI conviction. The defendant was found guilty. Prior to sentencing, he filed a motion to withdraw his 2003 guilty plea. The municipal court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed. Following a trial before the Law Division, the defendant’s appeal was denied, and he was sentenced to 364 days in prison. He then appealed the denial of his appeal and his sentence.

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Under New Jersey law, DWI defendants are not required to offer any evidence in their defense. Instead, the burden is on the State to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a defendant committed each element of the charged offense. In some cases, however, it may be beneficial for a defendant to introduce evidence in his or her defense, such as expert testimony regarding the cause of an accident. In a recent case, a New Jersey appellate court discussed the weight that each party’s evidence should be accorded in assessing a DWI defendant’s guilt. If you live in New Jersey and are charged with a DWI crime, it is wise to speak with a proficient New Jersey DWI attorney to assess what you can do to attempt to avoid a conviction.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with DWI and was convicted following a trial. The defendant appealed, arguing that the observation evidence introduced by the State was insufficient to sustain a conviction and that the trial judge failed to grant proper weight to the defendant’s expert.

Evidence Introduced at Trial

At trial, the State introduced evidence that the defendant drove off the road and through a fence, after which he struck a tree. The impact caused the defendant’s vehicle’s airbags to deploy and caused a fire in the engine. A police officer investigating the accident noted an odor of alcohol on the defendant’s breath, and he observed that the defendant had bloodshot eyes and had urinated on himself. The defendant admitted to drinking two martinis as well. The officer administered a field sobriety test, which the defendant failed.

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While most DWI charges arise out of traffic stops effectuated due to a traffic violation, under New Jersey law, a person may be charged with a DWI even if they are not actually observed driving a vehicle. Instead, the State must prove that a defendant charged with a DWI was operating a vehicle at the time of his or her arrest. As demonstrated in a recent case in which the defendant was convicted of a DWI despite the fact that he was sleeping in his car prior to his arrest, operation is broadly defined and is not limited to driving. If you are charged with a DWI offense, it is advisable to consult a trusted New Jersey DWI defense attorney to examine the evidence that the State may try to introduce to prove your guilt.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, a police officer noticed a truck parked in a restaurant parking lot early in the morning. The restaurant was not open at the time, and there were no other cars in the lot. The officer approached the truck, which was running, and observed the defendant sleeping in the driver’s seat, with an empty beer can in the center console. Upon questioning by the officer, the defendant, who smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech, stated that he had consumed a few beers at a casino in Atlantic City and then dropped off a friend.

The defendant failed a field sobriety test, after which he was arrested and transported to the police station. A breath test conducted at the police station revealed the defendant’s blood alcohol level to be .17%. The defendant was charged with and convicted of DWI. The defendant then appealed, averring that there was insufficient evidence to show that he was operating his truck while he was impaired by alcohol. Continue reading

Simply because a person is convicted of DWI does not mean that the person has no options for seeking relief from the conviction. Rather, under New Jersey law, if a criminal defendant produces sufficient evidence that his or her conviction should be vacated, the person may be eligible for post-conviction relief. In a recent New Jersey DWI case, the court explained the standard for granting post-conviction relief in DWI cases and when a request for such relief must be filed. If you are charged with a DWI and have prior DWI convictions, it is important to speak with a seasoned New Jersey DWI defense attorney regarding your options.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

Allegedly, in 2018, when the defendant was charged with DWI, she sought post-conviction relief for a 1980 DWI conviction. In her petition for relief, the defendant verified that she was not represented by counsel when she pled guilty for the prior offense and that she had not been informed of her right to counsel. She also requested relief from an enhanced custodial term. The trial court denied the defendant’s petition, after which she appealed. During the pendency of the appeal, the Supreme Court of New Jersey clarified the grounds for granting post-conviction relief from an enhanced custodial sentence for a subsequent DWI conviction.

Standard for Granting Post Conviction Relief in a DWI Case

On appeal, the court noted that the trial court denied the defendant’s petition, in part, because it was filed beyond the five-year time limitation set forth under the current law. The trial court also held that the plaintiff had not established a prima facie case that she was entitled to relief. Continue reading

Under New Jersey’s implied consent law, anyone who drives a car is deemed to consent to a chemical breath test. Thus, if a person stopped for suspicion of DWI refuses to submit to a test, he or she can face additional consequences. Police officers are required to inform DUI suspects of the potential consequences of refusing to submit to a blood test, by reading them a standard statement. Recently, the statement was called into question by a DWI defendant, who argued that the statement failed to advise her sufficiently of the consequences of her refusal. Upon review, a New Jersey appellate court ultimately rejected the defendant’s argument. If you are currently charged with a New Jersey DWI following your refusal to submit to a breath test, it is sensible to consult a proficient New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss these charges.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the defendant was stopped by the police for multiple traffic violations and for suspected DWI. During the investigation, the police officer who stopped the defendant read her the standard statement regarding the consequences of refusing to submit to a chemical breath test, but the defendant refused nonetheless. She was charged with numerous offenses, including DWI and refusal to submit to a breath test, to which she entered guilty pleas, contingent upon her right to challenge the sufficiency of the standard statement on appeal. During her plea hearing, she stated that she had consumed alcohol before driving on the date of her arrest, but that she would have provided breath samples if she was informed of the minimum penalties for a first-time offense. The defendant was sentenced, after which she appealed.

Sufficiency of the Standard Statement Regarding Consequences of Refusing a Breath Test

Under New Jersey’s implied consent law, anyone who drives a motor vehicle on a public road is presumed to consent to provide samples of their breath for chemical testing if the person is suspected of DWI. Further, the law provides that the police must inform a person arrested on suspicion of DWI of the consequences of refusing to submit to a chemical breath test by reading a standard statement prepared by the chief administrator. The law also requires a person who refuses to submit to a breath test to be charged with a violation for refusing. Continue reading

Many people assume that they cannot be convicted of a DWI in New Jersey if they are not stopped by a police officer while driving under the influence of alcohol. However, this is inaccurate as shown in a recent case decided by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, in which the court held that circumstantial evidence that the defendant had been driving his vehicle while intoxicated was sufficient to support a DWI conviction. If you live in New Jersey and are faced with a DWI charge, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss the state’s burden of proof and your potential defenses.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the police were called to the parking lot of a convenience store around 8:00 am to check on the defendant, who was either unconscious or asleep in a parked minivan. When the officer who responded to the call approached the minivan, the defendant was in the driver’s seat, and the engine was running. The officer tapped on the defendant’s window numerous times before he woke up. When the officer spoke with the defendant, he noted the defendant was mumbling and was difficult to understand, and had an odor of alcohol.

Allegedly, the defendant submitted to field sobriety tests, which he failed, after which the defendant was arrested and charged with DWI. Subsequent chemical testing revealed the defendant’s BAC to be 0.16%. At the defendant’s trial, he stipulated to the facts regarding his intoxication but denied that he was operating the minivan at the time of his arrest. The defendant was found guilty of DWI, after which he appealed, arguing that the State failed to prove he was operating the minivan while he was intoxicated. Continue reading

Many New Jersey DWI convictions were supported, in part, by the results of chemical testing. In 2018, however, the New Jersey Supreme Court invalidated the results of breath tests in many cases. Thus, in cases where a defendant’s conviction is based on a breath test, the conviction may be void. Recently, the Superior Court of New Jersey analyzed whether observational evidence alone was sufficient to sustain a defendant’s conviction following the invalidation of the results of his breath test. If you are charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey, it is wise to consult a skillful New Jersey DWI defense attorney regarding what the State must prove to obtain a conviction.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

Reportedly, the defendant was stopped in December 2011 for traveling 19 miles over the speed limit. When the police officer approached the defendant’s vehicle, he noticed the defendant smelled of alcohol and had difficulty producing his license and registration. The officer then asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety testing. During the tests, the defendant raised one arm for balance, failed the walk and turn test, and was swaying while standing in place. He then admitted to consuming one shot and two beers.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with DWI. He was convicted based on both the officer’s observation of his behavior and the results of a breath test. The defendant appealed. Following his conviction, the New Jersey Supreme Court rendered breath tests invalid in many cases, including the defendant’s case. Thus, the sole issue on appeal was whether there was sufficient proof to support a conviction based on observational evidence. Continue reading

If a person is charged with a DWI crime in New Jersey, the State must prove each element of the alleged offense to obtain a conviction. In other words, the State must not only prove that the defendant was impaired due to the ingestion of alcohol, but also that the defendant was operating a vehicle while he or she was impaired. Recently, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence of the operation of a vehicle to obtain a DWI conviction. If you reside in New Jersey and are currently charged with a DWI crime, it is advisable to meet with a capable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss what evidence the State may introduce against you.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the police were called to check on a suspicious vehicle parked in a residential area. Upon arriving on the scene, the police observed the defendant was asleep in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. The police woke the defendant up and questioned him regarding where he was that evening. The defendant stated that he was at a birthday party for his brother and became tired on the way home, so he pulled over and fell asleep. The defendant admitted to consuming one glass of wine.

Allegedly, the defendant submitted to field sobriety testing, which he failed. He was subsequently arrested and taken to the police station, where he was given a breathalyzer test. The test showed that the defendant’s BAC was 0.08%. The defendant was charged with and convicted of DWI. He appealed, arguing in part that the trial court committed an error in finding beyond a reasonable doubt that he operated his vehicle while intoxicated. Continue reading

DWI defendants have numerous rights under the law, including the right to a speedy trial. In other words, criminal defendants have a right to be tried within a certain amount of time from when the charges against them are filed, and if they are not, the charges may be dismissed. Recently, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey discussed the factors weighed in determining whether a violation of a defendant’s right to a speedy trial has occurred in a DWI case. If you are a New Jersey resident charged with DWI, it is prudent to meet with a skillful New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with DWI in November, 2013. There were numerous appearances scheduled and adjourned or continued. The trial was ultimately scheduled for May, 2015. At the time of the trial, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss based on the grounds the State violated his right to a speedy trial. The court denied the motion, and the defendant entered a conditional guilty plea, after which he was sentenced. The defendant then appealed the court’s denial of his motion to the law division, which affirmed the trial court ruling. Subsequently, the defendant appealed to the Superior Court, which affirmed the prior order.

The Right to a Speedy Trial Under New Jersey Law

Under New Jersey law, to evaluate whether a defendant’s right to a speedy trial has been violated, the court will assess the length of the delay, the reason for the delay, the prejudice the delay caused the defendant and the defendant’s assertion of the right to a trial. Continue reading