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