Articles Posted in Hudson County DWI Defense

For those motorists who have already taken note of the increased number of municipal and state patrol officers plying the Garden State Parkway, highways and surface streets this summer, get ready for more of the same this coming holiday weekend. Police presence on New Jersey roadways this summer, as with most every past year, has been fairly obvious, if only because of the anti-DWI and DUI enforcement that comes with warmer weather and summertime revelers; but Labor Day will be especially active from the standpoint of drunk driving enforcement.

As DWI defense lawyers whose job it is to represent drivers accused of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, refusing a breathalyzer test, or possessing a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) in their vehicle, the skilled attorneys at my law firm have the legal experience to help defendants get through a DWI case and on with their lives.

During the summer months, as well as various holidays throughout the year, police departments in many New Jersey towns and municipalities step up their drunken driving patrols, as well as conduct random sobriety checkpoints in areas well-known for DWI-related arrests and accidents. As with most of these anti-DWI campaigns, the “Drive Sober, or Get Pulled Over” anti-DWI campaign currently in effect entails increased police patrols (aka “saturation” patrols) and even some DUI roadblocks, all of which will probably net dozens of unsuspecting drivers who may or may not be legally intoxicated.
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Anyone who has been arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs will understand that it is not something one ever looks forward to. However, with the help of an experienced DWI defense attorney — one skilled in New Jersey drunk driving law and experienced in representing individuals in a courtroom — the most harrowing part of being the defendant in a DWI case may be alleviated to some extent.

At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our legal team offers decades of collective DWI, drug DUI, and criminal defense experience. Whether one is charged with driving while intoxicated by alcohol, impaired by prescription meds or illegal drugs, breath test refusal or any number of drunk driving-related offenses, our lawyers are ready to help.

One thing that most drivers don’t necessarily understand is that BWI, otherwise referred to as “boating under the influence” or BUI, carries with it similar penalties to the automotive equivalent, DUI or DWI. Our familiarity with New Jersey DUI/DWI law allows us to represent both drivers and boaters who have been accused of operating their vehicles while allegedly intoxicated by alcohol, doctor-prescribed medications or illicit drugs (sometimes called controlled dangerous substances, or CDS).
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How many times have you seen a driver ahead of you in traffic with a burned-out taillight? While it may seem insignificant to some, a simple $10 light bulb could cause big trouble down the road. Never mind the accident potential of a non-working brake lamp or a faulty turn signal, just consider the cost of a defective equipment ticket. Oh, you say, a couple hundred bucks or so, I’m too busy. And, really, what are the odds? Well, in our experience, the odds are pretty good that something may happen before that bulb gets replaced.

But what if a driver, who happens to have avoided fixing that turn signal or brake light bulb, finds out the hard way that he just maybe had a little too much to drink with his buddies at the bar? That burned-out bulb is now one big red flag for a municipal patrolman or state trooper. Unfortunately, by the time this scenario plays out, the cost of that little bulb may have gone up quite a bit depending on the circumstances. In any case, it’s safe to that driver will be into the state for more than the $10 or $20 it would have cost to fix that light in the first place.

As New Jersey drunken driving defense attorneys, we understand that human nature can get in the way of doing the right thing from time to time. We’ve represented numerous drivers over the years who may have indulged themselves a bit too much when they should have eased off. It’s difficult to know exactly how much alcohol is in one’s bloodstream or whether a person has consumed enough food at lunch or dinner offset the wine he or she drank.
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As long as DWI checkpoints and sobriety roadblocks have been used in this state there have been detractors who ask if the cost in equipment, manpower and officer overtime is really worth the effort of bringing in a handful of alleged drunken drivers from time to time. Here in the Garden State, the random operation of sobriety checkpoints certainly has given more than one driver pause to get behind the wheel of his or her car following an evening with friends at a restaurant, bar or private residence.

As long-time DWI defense attorneys, I and my team of experienced trial lawyers have dedicated ourselves to helping those motorists who believe that they did not deserve being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. One of the many ways in which New Jersey drivers end up in front of a municipal or county judge is when they are arrested for DWI or drug DUI at one of the numerous drunk driving roadblocks that go up on weekends and during various national holidays.

Although law enforcement agencies throughout the state have it in their authority to set up sobriety roadblocks, there are limitations and rules that must be followed. For example, the police are required by law to place a public announcement (stating when and where) prior to the erection of any sobriety or DWI checkpoint. Furthermore, the placement of these roadblocks must be in an area that has a history of prior DWI activity; in other words, they cannot be placed anywhere the police authorities choose.
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Back in what some of us might call the good ol’ days, having an out-of-date license plate tag or being tardy in making an auto insurance payment was a secret that could mostly be kept to oneself, at least until a driver broke a traffic law right in front of a cop. But that’s hardly the case anymore. These days, the information age can quickly catch up to those procrastinating motorists and other drivers for whom the calendar is merely a seasonal guidepost. For those who might not worry so much about driving their vehicle while possibly intoxicated, whether they know it or not, Big Brother is watching.

As we’ve explained in the past, New Jersey state law defines when it is legal for a police officer to stop a motorist on the roadway, after which a drunk driving summons may be forthcoming depending on the officer’s suspicions and observations of the driver. But having a hunch that a motorist may be inebriated behind the wheel of his or her vehicle is not sufficient legal grounds in the Garden State for a patrolman to stop a vehicle. Acting on the suspicion that an individual is impaired by alcohol or prescription drugs (drug DUI) should only come into play following a legitimate traffic stop.

But what does it take to cause a municipal policeman or a New Jersey state trooper to decide that a driver is in violation of one or more traffic laws? Simple observation can result in a routine police stop if the officer in charge sees an obvious violation, such as an illegal U-turn, failure to yield at a stop sign, even cutting through a parking lot to avoid waiting at an intersection. These and many other scenarios are all typical ways in which New Jersey drivers are constantly getting into hot water with the police.
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Not long ago we addressed the pitfalls and potentially life-changing consequences for professional drivers who are facing a possible conviction for drunken driving. As many readers will recall, my law firm understands how the threat of losing one’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) due to a drinking and driving charge can be more than overwhelming. Losing one’s ability to make a living due a suspended or revoked CDL can have an economic impact on an individual and his families far beyond that of the average office worker.

As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, I and my legal team know that any loss of driving privileges can be disrupting to one’s daily life. It is understandable that anyone who uses a motor vehicle to get to and from work would be highly inconvenienced by a license suspension due to DWI, but generally that suspension would not affect most individuals’ livelihood in the way that a similar suspension would a affect a professional driver.

Semi tractor-trailer drivers, cabbies, delivery truck operators and tradesmen rely on their ability to use a company vehicle to directly generate an income. But here in the Garden State, when a person is convicted of a drunk driving offense, the possible loss of private driver’s license has a direct effect on that person’s CDL. And, we might add, when it comes to the rules and regulations surrounding possession of a CDL, federal law has much a lower limit on what is considered drunk driving.
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During most any traffic stop that appears to the officer in charge to involve drinking and driving, the motorist will likely be asked to perform a one or more of the standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs) as prescribed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For those unfamiliar with these tests, they are comprised of a number of simple physical tasks — such as walking a straight line heel-to-toe or standing on one leg for 30 seconds — which police use to gauge a person’s level of impairment from drugs or alcohol.

Historically, law enforcement agencies have used these tests coupled with other observed symptoms of drunkenness — such as weaving in one’s lane — and the officer’s professional opinion to determine guilt and justify the arrest of a motorist for driving while intoxicated. Here in New Jersey, as well as the rest of the country, a patrolman must correctly administer the FSTs as approved by the NHTSA in a standardized manner in order to obtain a validated indicator of impairment and establish probable cause for a DWI-DUI arrest.

As common as the FSTs are in the daily duties of police officers all across the Garden State, they nonetheless represent one of the more controversial aspects of a drunk driving stop. In an effort to lend more credibility to these tests, the NHTSA developed a model training system for police officers and published numerous training manuals regarding the use and administration of FSTs. Even though the results of these test may be held up by the prosecution as proof of inebriation on the part of a driver, even experts in the field of DWI don’t agree on the effectiveness of FSTs.
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several decades you probably know almost intuitively that municipal patrolmen, as well as our New Jersey state troopers, all have a very keen eye for potentially impaired motorists. Making one’s way onto public roads in any condition other than fully sober can be a risky proposition not only in terms of safety to you, your passengers, and others on the road as well, but also financially.

As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, I and my staff of skilled legal professionals have for many years been protecting the rights of individuals accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs (drug DUI). My legal team understands drunk driving law and the potential fines associated with a conviction for any number of alcohol-related offenses.

Another thing that we know from our decades of collective courtroom experience is that law enforcement officers and the prosecutors who handle drunk driving cases tend to have a singular goal of catching, convicting and punishing motorists who get behind the wheel of a car or truck while intoxicated. Whether it’s alcohol, doctor-prescribed medication, or illegal substances, the law has strict rules for dealing with offenders.
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Well, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, again; and what better time to remind all those planning to enjoy their green beer and Irish whiskey to be sure they also have a sober ride home following the revelry. The fact is, at least here in the Garden State, no good time goes unpunished. With the continuing battle against drunk driving, you can be sure that the state patrol, as well as county and local police agencies will have their officers plying the roadways and looking for drivers who can’t seem to follow our state’s traffic laws.

We say this because, as New Jersey drunken driving defense attorneys, we know that the law does not allow a police officer to stop a motorist solely on the hunch that he or she may be intoxicated. A hunch is not a legitimate reason to stop a motorist, regardless of whether or not that a driver is inebriated or otherwise impaired by alcohol or some other substance. Even if a motorist is under the influence of beer, wine, hard liquor, doctor-prescribed meds or illicit drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, a patrolman can only stop a vehicle if he has observed a traffic offense or some other type of motor vehicle violation.

Naturally, it doesn’t take much to initiate a traffic stop. Drifting into another lane, however briefly, could trigger a traffic stop, was can exceeding the speed limit or making an illegal turn. Whatever the situation, if a driver has been drinking prior to the traffic stop, there could be a DWI arrest waiting for him just around the corner. And if charged and subsequently convicted, there could be hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines, court fees and statutory penalties. As we said, it’s best not to tempt fate on this favorite of Irish holidays and leave the driving to a teetotaler.
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Over the many years that my legal firm has been helping motorists accused of drunken driving, I and my associates have been asked more than a few times, “Why do I need a DWI lawyer when I step into a courtroom on a charge of driving while intoxicated?” The simple answer would be, “Because you owe it to yourself to be fully prepared to face the prosecution, which will do its best to prove you guilty of DWI or drug DUI.” But this is only one basic reason.

It’s not a secret that drivers in the Garden State face a tough situation when they are stopped on the highway after having a drink or two. It’s a mistake to assume that heavy drinkers and so-called “party animals” are the only people to be arrested for drunken driving by state or local police. For many, a simple drive home after dinner with friends can sometimes lead to a traffic stop, possibly for some basic moving violation, only to escalate into a full-blown DWI arrest and a trip to police headquarters.

As drunk driving defense attorneys, I and my team of experienced trial lawyers are fully up to the task of representing individuals who have been accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor, beer, or doctor-prescribed medication. We know how scary a drunk driving arrest can be for normally law-abiding citizens. But the truly frightening thing about being arrested is that a conviction can result in serious and expensive consequences.
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