Articles Posted in Morris County DWI Defense

Throughout the Garden State, the constant stream of news reports regarding drunk driving, specifically those found online and in the newspaper, illustrate the ongoing fight that law enforcement and our court system continue to have with the very real issue of intoxicated driving. As dedicated criminal and civil defense attorneys, my legal staff handles numerous DWI and drug DUI cases every week in counties such as Bergen, Monmouth, Middlesex and Atlantic, to name just a few.

As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, we see clients who have been charged with driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs on city streets, as well as the parkway, interstate and local highways. For those who have ever wondered if theirs was the only DWI arrest to merit a courtroom fight, we would have to say, No. There are many hundreds, likely thousands, of otherwise law-abiding people who find themselves on a yearly basis facing serious charges and potentially costly penalties for offense that they do not believe they committed.

Granted, quite a few defendants in DWI and drug DUI cases will not understand the extent to which our DWI laws can affect the outcome of their drunk driving case, which is why it is important to seek the assistance of a qualified defense lawyer who has extensive experience in representing motorists accused of DWI or drug DUI offenses. This would include summonses for driving under the influence of alcohol, doctor-prescribed medications, and even the use or possession of illicit drugs, such as marijuana, methamphetamine or cocaine.
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Given the current automotive landscape here in New Jersey, there is more than a good chance that a fair percentage of the population either personally knows of or has heard about someone who has been stopped by the police for some kind of traffic infraction during the last year or so. Of that broad group, the are usually some individuals who have been stopped and subsequently arrested and issued a summons for drunken driving or impaired vehicle operation due to some kind of controlled substance.

Whether one is charged with DWI or drug DUI, the need to find professional legal representation jumps to the top of the list of important decisions following such an event. While most drivers who are charged with drunken driving typically find themselves stopped for what may have seemed like a minor traffic infraction, there is a smaller group that receive DWI-DUI summonses at late-night sobriety checkpoints, otherwise referred to as DWI roadblocks.

Many of the random instances involving drunk driving and drug DUI police stops end up being published in the so-called police blotter sections of many Garden State media outlets. Although many traffic stops, which turn out to be alcohol- or drug-related, may not be all that remarkable, there is often a common theme that comes up again and again. And while the drivers’ names and arrest locations can, of course, be unique to those individual events, there can be seen patterns of stops and subsequent arrests.
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It goes without saying that many average motorists can become pretty rattled when a highway patrolman or even a local police officer pulls them over for a traffic offense. Because most people have little, if any, contact with law enforcement professionals in their daily lives, being confronted by any cop for an alleged moving violation can be a nerve-racking experience. As experienced New Jersey trial attorneys, my colleagues and I know very well how even the most minor of police stops can leave a driver trembling and second-guessing themselves.

Now, add the potential of intoxicated driving to the mix and you have a serious situation. The can be especially true when a motorist has just been at a restaurant or is returning home from visiting a party with friends or family. If any alcohol was consumed, there is always a possibility that the officer in charge may suspect the driver of DWI. When a state trooper or municipal patrolman asks for the details of one’s evening, having a couple drinks can turn a simple traffic summons in to a full-blown drunken driving arrest.

Leading up to an arrest, many times the police will request a motorist exit the vehicle to perform one or more of the standardized field sobriety tests, which may not always indicate correctly whether a person is impaired or not, but which is often relied upon when a policeman decides whether or not to make an arrest. Being nervous will quite often make the situation worse for a potential arrestee, since fumbling for documents and having a less-than-smooth vocal delivery can influence the outcome of a DWI stop.
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A driver from the Dover area was recently taken into custody by officers from the Randolph Township Police Department after an investigation revealed that the driver may have been intoxicated at the time of the wreck. According to reports, patrolmen responded to a car accident along a stretch of Everdale Rd. earlier in the year when the suspect’s car plowed through a snow bank and hit a tree. The crash, as reported in a more recent news article, took place on March 22.

Based on information from the Randolph PD, one of the officers responding to the apparent single-vehicle crash noted that the driver allegedly had a “strong smell” of alcohol on his breath at the scene of the collision. Apparently, it was decided to charge the individual on several counts, including driving under the influence of alcohol (or DUI) and refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test, as well as reckless driving. There was no mention of a court date.

In another instance of alleged drunken driving, a resident of Rockaway, NJ, was stopped by local police after police received word of a motorist operating a motor vehicle in an erratic fashion, and allegedly almost striking a pedestrian in the process. Based on police reports, a 49-year-old local man was operating his vehicle in the mid-afternoon on school property, specifically the Morris Hills High School parking lot.
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Here in the Garden State, possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle (by a driver) is subject to stiff penalties if one is stopped by the police and charged with same. In terms of strict “possession,” if a traffic stop reveals that a driver has pot inside his vehicle, a summons for possession will likely be forthcoming. As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I are prepared to defend individuals accused of impaired driving, as well as simply having drugs on one’s person during a police stop.

In addition to defending motorists hit with a drug charge following a traffic stop on the parkway, interstate or in town, my legal team is skilled in handling traffic tickets issued for drug possession, including those for weed and other illegal or controlled dangerous substance (CDS). According to the New Jersey legal statutes — specifically N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1 — the law prohibits any individual from driving a car, truck or motorcycle while knowingly being in possession of marijuana, cocaine, meth or other CDS. That said, it needs to be explained that this particular law is solely focused on the driver and not the passenger of a motor vehicle.

When attempting to prove such a violation, a municipal prosecutor is obliged to establish several key facts in order to win his case against a defendant. First, the state must prove that the accused was in control, or otherwise operating a motor vehicle. Second, a police officer must have found the weed or other drug on the driver’s person. Finally, it must be proved that the motorist “knowingly” possessed the illegal substance. A skilled attorney can sometimes find fault with the state’s case if the operator of the vehicle was not within what the law describes as “wingspan” of the physical control of the pot or other CDS. One common situation is when the substance was on the person of another occupant of the vehicle.
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Just like everyone else, police officers are human. And while patrolmen do have many special skills, as well as years of training in criminology and law enforcement, they are not psychics; however, they do know what to look for when it comes to human behavior on Garden State roadways. As DWI defense lawyers, the attorneys at my firm meet a near constant stream of people who have been charged with traffic infractions and other offenses. On the whole, few of these individuals ever expected to be awaiting a court date to determine whether or not they will be convicted of drinking and driving.

What most people do not realize — at least not until it is too late — is that local and state patrolmen have a keen eye for the telltale hints that a motorist may not be paying complete attention to the job of driving. Whether that sign is a poorly executed turn, driving noticeably below the posted speed limit or drifting repeatedly outside of one’s lane, a seasoned officer can probably anticipate the outcome of many a routine traffic stop. Unfortunately for most drivers, what is a routine occurrence for a cop is hardly a typical experience for the average person.

There are a variety of strange activities and odd behaviors on the road that can garner a police officer’s immediate attention and, in the process, get a driver in very hot water. Especially if an individual has had a drink or two prior to the traffic stop, which might leave the odor of alcohol on the driver’s breath, there is a strong chance that the officer is going to suspect some kind of intoxication, at least initially. But, once again, it can often be some minor driving mistake that betrays a motorist and triggers a roadside police stop.
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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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With hundreds of drivers pulled over by police every week all across the Garden State — for all manner of traffic and vehicle infractions — it is not unexpected that a certain percentage of these police stops will result in arrests for any number of more serious offenses. Drunken driving, CDS possession, impaired vehicle operation due to drug use, and underage drinking and driving are just a few of the common reasons why a fair number of New Jersey motorists find themselves served with summonses for traffic-related offenses.

How many of these individuals actually avoid a guilty verdict and, by doing so, side-step the potentially expensive fines, fees and statutory assessments? That often depends on the strength of the evidence, but the number would surprise many people. Certainly, the first step is to consult a qualified drunk driving defense attorney to learn what options are available to the particular motorist accused of such an offense. As New Jersey DWI-DUI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I are experienced in providing an aggressive defense for many people arrested for drunk or impaired vehicle operation.

When looking to understand the typical kinds of police traffic stops, it is instructive to look at police blotter reports in local newspapers and online media sources. The law of averages suggests that the average DWI offense involves some of the most simple and seemingly innocuous driving infractions as a starting point for a roadside traffic stop. But even the most basic of traffic offenses can eventually develop into a full-blown drunk driving arrest.
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Being stopped by a New Jersey State Police officer or local cop for a traffic offense can be unnerving enough for most people without the added concern of being arrested for DWI. As Garden State drunken driving defense lawyers, my firm is all too aware of the emotions that can come to the surface when faced with a summons for driving under the influence. Often frightening, and certainly unsettling, the experience of being taken into custody is only overshadowed by the potential financial impact that a DWI or drug DUI conviction can have on an individual or his family.

The state of New Jersey has long since banned plea bargaining as a common avenue to having a drunk driving charge dismissed or downgraded. Because of this, many people might wonder why they should even consider retaining a DWI attorney at all. First and foremost, an experienced legal expert can look for flaws in the state’s case, which can range from the way the police officer conducted the traffic stop prior to the DWI arrest, to the procedures followed or skipped after the driver submitted to a breathalyzer device in order to determine his or her blood-alcohol concentration (BAC).

When asking why one should hire a lawyer for a DWI or drug DUI defense, it may be more important to ask what the secret to success is when it comes to avoiding a conviction. At the very least, someone accused of driving drunk should contact a qualified professional to determine if fighting a drunk driving summons would be fruitful or if a downgrade is possible. In our experience, identifying any potential issues that may undermine the state’s ability to prove the DWI-DUI offense is a key objective when discussing a defendant’s options going forward.
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Any time a driver is pulled over by the police, the episode can certainly be an unsettling and even an intimidating experience to the individual behind the wheel. The mere presence of a patrolman at one’s driver’s side window can result in a person looking nervous and perhaps even acting out of character. Becoming flustered in front of a law enforcement officer, especially for the average law-abiding citizen, is not unheard of.

Because the typical driver has on only rare occasions the chance to interaction with an authority figure such as a municipal cop or state trooper, there can be a range of potential explanations for why a driver appears to be anxious, confused or disturbed during a traffic stop; espesically one that may be rapidly turning into a potential drunken driving stop. As DWI-DUI defense attorneys, we know that certain mannerisms coupled with other, so-called evidence of alcohol consumption can easily lead to a DWI arrest.

As New Jersey drunk driving attorneys and experienced trial lawyers, my colleagues and I know just how quickly things can go south for an individual who may have had a drink or two before heading home from a restaurant or friend’s home. Once stopped for a traffic violation, a driver may find himself accused of driving under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor, or occasionally drug DUI if that individual is taking doctor-prescribed medications that may have interacted unexpectedly with each other.
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