While all DWI charges should be regarded as serious, a charge for a third or subsequent DWI offense can result in significant penalties, including license suspension and jail time. Once a person is convicted of DWI however, trying to get a conviction reversed can be an extremely difficult task. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed the ground for vacating a third DWI conviction in a ruling issued in a matter in which the defendant alleged numerous procedural errors were committed during the investigation of his alleged crime. If you are a New Jersey resident currently facing DWI charges, it is advisable to meet with a dedicated New Jersey DWI defense attorney to assess your options.
The Defendant’s Arrest
It is reported that the defendant was stopped by a police officer for driving erratically. When the officer approached the defendant, he noticed he appeared to be intoxicated, in that he smelled like alcohol and had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. The officer asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety tests, which the defendant was unable to complete. The defendant was then transported to the police station for a breath test, but the breathalyzer machine was not working. Allegedly, he was then transferred to a second barracks where he underwent the test, which revealed his BAC to be 0.15%. He was charged with DWI, which was his third offense. He moved to have the results of his breath test deemed inadmissible, which the court denied. He then filed a conditional guilty plea and, after his sentencing hearing, appealed.
Grounds for Vacating a DWI Conviction
Under law, if a driver moves to appeal a DWI conviction in New Jersey issued by a municipal court, the Law Division will make its own factual findings and conclusions of law while deferring to the lower court’s credibility findings. Then, if the Law Division’s findings are appealed to the Superior Court, the court will merely review whether there is adequate credible evidence of the record to support the lower court findings and will not overturn those findings absent a manifest error.