Articles Posted in Somerset County DWI Defense

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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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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As New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyers, my law firm is dedicated to assisting drivers who have been accused or otherwise charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or some other substance which may or may not have caused impairment of the motorist’s mental or physical abilities. As experienced trial attorneys working in the area of drunken driving law, we have worked hundreds of DWI cases in our many years of practice.

Defending motorists against drunken driving charges takes skill and training, which the lawyers in my firm put to use every day. Of the many potential charges that police may press against a driver, breath test refusal is one of several that are probably not well understood by the general public. What many drivers may not even recall is that the issuance of a driver’s license in the state of New Jersey comes with an implied agreement on the part of the driver that essentially means any driver who is suspected of driving drunk shall provide a breath sample when requested by police.

By being licensed to drive a motor vehicle in the Garden State, every driver implicitly accepts the terms and conditions of what is known as the “New Jersey Consent Law.” After doing so, a driver who is accused of DWI and will not provide a breath sample to officers can be hit with a “breath test refusal: charge as well. This is laid out in what we typically refer to as the New Jersey Refusal Law the penalties of which are stated in New Jersey legal statutes N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4.
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Of course, it’s easy to suggest after the fact that a defendant should or shouldn’t have done this or that prior to or during a DWI arrest. And to suggest that anyone reading this right now will later be going out to willfully drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs would simply be unfair. However, in this world of “would-a, should-a, could-a,” we might be remiss if we didn’t say that getting caught up in a traffic accident — even a minor fender-bender — while impaired by drugs or alcohol could possibly complicate a person’s defense.

As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, I and my staff of experienced trial lawyers are constantly approached by potential clients looking for help after being accused of driving while intoxicated. The answers are not always simple, but the causes for drunken driving arrests can usually be traced to one of many seemingly minor moving violations that open the door to a full-blown DWI arrest.

Now, we can think of dozens of examples of Jersey motorists who have added a reckless driving or vehicular assault charge to what is already a potentially costly drunken driving offense. As we’ve said many times before, there is no reason to complicate one’s life — much less one’s defense against a drunk driving accusation — by getting into a car accident while possibly inebriated at the time. And trust us, even one or two drinks prior to a traffic stop may be all it takes to get slapped with a drunk driving summons in this state.
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One of the many questions that we get from prospective clients — those individuals who have been charged with driving while intoxicated on New Jersey roadways — is whether or not they can have their case heard by a jury. As experienced trial attorneys, I and my colleagues have a great deal of collective experience representing defendants who have been accused of a criminal act or civil offense. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, the average drunken driving case does not rise to the level of a criminal offense.

Here in the Garden State, charges of DWI or DUI do not typically call for a jury trial as do more serious offenses. That said, it should also be stated that being convicted for driving while intoxicated or impaired operation of a motor vehicle due to prescription medication (or even illegal substances) can be costly for most any defendant. So even though a DWI-DUI arrest may not merit a trial by jury, there is no reason not to take the event seriously, if only to protect one’s own pocketbook.

In cases where a Garden State motorist has been charged with driving under the influence, the prosecutor’s office in charge of the case still have the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty of the charges beyond any reasonable doubt; this is the highest standard of proof required in our legal system. As a former municipal prosecutor myself, I know that the state will usually bring forward every piece of viable evidence in order to prove a driver guilty of DWI.
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Drunken driving is already a serious offense in and of itself here in the Garden State, but there are worse things that can happen beyond being stopped by a police officer for a minor traffic violation and then being arrested for driving a car while under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs. Consider a fatal alcohol- or drug-related traffic accident.

As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, I and my colleagues know how easily it can be for a motorist to be swept up in a DWI or drug DUI offense out there on our highways or surface streets. Not only can it be embarrassing to be arrested, much less convicted, but the potential harm that such an event can have on a person’s private life and business career can sometimes be irreparable.

Being stopped while legally intoxicated by beer, wine or liquor is just the beginning of a process that can lead to stiff fines, court costs, fees, and assessments to one’s auto insurance premiums; all because of a momentary indiscretion. As professionals in the area of DWI and drug-DUI defense, we understand what is at stake for the average person, and we are prepared to help.
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Though some may argue the contrary, the law is designed to treat all people equally when determining an individual’s guilt or innocence. As New Jersey drunk driving defense attorneys, I and my staff of experienced DWI lawyers have decades of litigation expertise that has served us and our clients well when fighting charges of drunken driving, drug DUI, breath test refusal and other DWI- and DUI-related offenses. If you remember anything about the legal system, it is that every person accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Especially in situations where a motorist has been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated or otherwise impaired by alcohol, doctor-prescribed medication, or even illegal drugs such as cocaine or marijuana, having one’s day in court is often the most important aspect of fighting for one’s legal rights. And while not everyone can expect to be found not guilty, reducing to some extent the typically harsh monetary penalties or even jail time associated with a DWI conviction is another desirable goal of taking one’s case into a court of law.

Of course, the wheels of justice can often turn at a glacial pace, especially in situations where the serious injury or death of an innocent person may have been involved. We are reminded of this many times during the year when so-called high-profile cases are tried in courtrooms throughout the country.
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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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