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Most DWI arrests in New Jersey arise out of a traffic stop. While some traffic stops that result in DWI arrests arise from erratic driving or suspicion of DWI, many traffic stops that ultimately result in a DWI arrest were instituted for reasons that have nothing to do with a belief the driver is intoxicated. Regardless of the reason an officer stops a driver, if a driver is charged with DWI, the state must be able to establish to the stop was based on a reasonable suspicion that the driver violated the law. Otherwise, the stop may be illegal and any evidence obtained during the stop may be precluded. In a recent New Jersey appellate opinion, the court discussed the standards for determining if a plaintiff’s motion to suppress evidence obtained during a traffic stop should be granted in a DWI case. If you are charged with a DWI in New Jersey it is in your best interest to speak to an assertive New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss your options to seek a successful outcome.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was stopped by a police officer due to the fact that the defendant’s driver’s side brake light was out. The brake light on the passenger side of the vehicle was functioning, as was the brake light mounted atop the center of the vehicle. The defendant was subsequently arrested and charged with DWI. He filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the stop, but his motion was denied. He then pleaded guilty as charged, reserving the right to appeal, after which he appealed the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the officer lacked a lawful basis for initiating the stop. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Lawful Basis to Initiate a Traffic Stop

The only issue on appeal was whether the officer possessed a reasonable articulable suspicion that the defendant was in violation of a statute due to the inactive brake light at the time the officer stopped the defendant. The defendant argued that the relevant statute only required that a vehicle possess two functioning brake lights and therefore maintained that the brake lights on his vehicle at the time of his stop were sufficient. The court disagreed, finding that the plain language of the statute stated that all vehicles other than motorcycles must have at least two brake lights, one on each side of the vehicle, and must also have a high mounted center light. The court noted that the defendant stipulated that he did not have a working brake light on the left side of his vehicle. Thus, the court found the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle. Continue reading

In recent years, public awareness campaigns coupled with law enforcement measures have successfully lowered the overall rate of drunk driving in New Jersey and across the United States. Interestingly enough, however, drugged driving has been on the rise. If you or your loved one has been charged with drugged driving, you need to consult a seasoned New Jersey DWI attorney as soon as possible. These charges should never be taken lightly because they can have a serious negative impact on almost every aspect of your life.

Earlier this month, golf champion Tiger Woods was stopped and charged with driving under the influence of medication, bringing attention to the huge problem of drugged driving. A recent report by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association along with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility revealed that drugged driving has surpassed drunk driving as a factor in deadly crashes. Statistics indicate that drugs were present in 43 percent of drivers in crash fatalities, a 25 percent increase since 2012.

After his arrest, Woods insisted that the incident was due to a bad reaction to prescription medication, rather than due to alcohol. But does that really make a difference? The short answer is no. In New Jersey, a person who is driving under the influence of drugs may be committing the offense of driving while intoxicated (DWI).

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For any experienced DWI attorney that practices in Ocean County, the summer brings an increased case load. The reason is because the influx of tourists and vacationers brings a distinct upturn in the number of driving while intoxicated offenses.  Hotspot destinations like Seaside Heights and Long Beach Island definitely fall within this description although just about all the towns along the Garden State Parkway and beach experience a rise in DUI violations. The following is the breakdown of Ocean County Municipalities with the highest number of DWI filings. The statistics are for the most recently reported 12 month period published by the New Jersey Administrative Offices of the Courts (July 2013-June 2104). The data reveals the following rankings in terms of those arrested for DUI/DWI in Ocean County NJ:

  1. Toms River (364)
  2. Brick Township (261)

Without a doubt, most all state troopers and municipal patrolmen throughout the Garden State have very little tolerance for those individuals who they suspect of being drunk behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. In fact, it isn’t much of a stretch to suggest that New Jersey’s law enforcement community has zero tolerance for drunken driving on public roads.

As professional DWI-DUI defense attorneys, my colleagues and I have a great deal of experience representing drivers who have run afoul of the law when it comes to DWI and drug DUI violations. Needless to say, our court system is also relatively unyielding when sentencing those people who have been convicted of intoxicated driving. Aside from the often costly and occasionally embarrassing results of a DWI conviction, some defendants who enter a courtroom less than adequately prepared can end up feeling the effects of that drunk driving arrest for years to come.

While many people likely consider that any consequences tied to a DWI or drug DUI conviction are mostly monetary in nature, there are instance where jail time may be prescribed (however, first-time offenders can often avoid that level of punishment with the help of a qualified legal expect). That said, it is best to keep in mind that many people fail to realize the negative effect that a DWI conviction can have on one’s family members, friends and neighbors, and even employers.
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Considering the number of teenagers and young adult drivers currently on Garden State roadways, DWI and drug DUI arrests involving underage drivers are bound to happen more often than not. As New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyers, my legal team understands how easily a young person can end up intoxicated and then get behind the wheel without taking into account the various consequences that may result. Safety aside, for those drivers under legal drinking age, being stopped by the police for intoxicated driving can have unintended outcomes.

The penalties for underage DWI here in New Jersey are outlined in our state’s legal statutes, specifically N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14. The law specifies that any person under 21 years of age who operates a car, truck or motorcycle with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of greater than 0.01 percent but less than 0.08 percent risks forfeiture of his driving privileges for one to three months. Even those individuals who do not yet have a driver’s license may face a delay in obtaining their driver’s license following a previous conviction for underage DWI.

As with most drunken driving cases, the burden of proof is on the state. Where a charge of drunken driving is at issue, the local prosecutor must show that 1) the defendant was “operating” the vehicle at the time of the offense; 2) the defendant was under the state’s legal drinking age at that time; and 3) the defendant had a BAC over 0.01 percent. Evidence of the latter is typically gained via a breathalyzer test, often obtained by using an Alcotest breath testing device or occasionally through a direct blood sample taken from the defendant at the time of the drunk driving arrest.
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With the number of DWI and drug DUI arrests that occur weekly in the Garden State, it should not be a surprise that motorists have a misery of choice when it comes to retaining legal aid for drunk driving offense. But that’s just a general statement, since choosing the right New Jersey drunk driving lawyer can be critical to the outcome of a DWI-DUI case. Whether someone is facing a serious injury-related DWI charge or a more routine DUI summons resulting from a simple traffic stop, my legal team is ready, willing and able to assist those individuals who have been accused of impaired driving.

An arrest for driving while intoxicated is nothing to laugh at. Whether precipitated by a traffic accident, occurring at one of many random sobriety checkpoints, or developing out of a traffic stop for a seemingly minor traffic infraction, any kind of alcohol- or drug-related traffic offense has the potential to cause a motorist serious monetary pain, as well as inconvenience and, in some cases, social embarrassment or job-related problems.

As experienced DWI defense attorneys, my legal staff is skilled in litigating civil and criminal cases throughout the state of New Jersey. We provide our clients with legal representation in cases ranging from drunken driving, drug-impaired vehicle operation, illegal drug (CDS) possession and breath test refusal, just to name a few.
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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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Having represented numerous defendants against various civil and criminal charges over the years, my colleagues and I handle a great deal of cases involving motorists accused of drunken driving, drug DUI, and other offenses related to impaired operation of a motor vehicle here in New Jersey. As skilled DWI defense attorneys, we know which cases may be tough going for our clients and which will be more routine. In some instances, we can even tell early on whether or not a DWI or DUI case may be thrown out due to insufficient evidence or improper police procedure.

Regardless of the cause of a drunk driving or drug-related DUI arrest, having a qualified legal professional on one’s side can not only be a smart move, but it can also be reassuring for the defendant to know that he has a knowledgeable expert in the area of drunk driving law representing his interests in court. As professional litigators, my legal team has extensive litigation experience throughout the Garden State. And, when asked by potential clients, we often hold that fighting a DWI-DUI charge is a wise course of action, especially considering the financial consequences.

Of course, the monetary aspects of a drunken driving conviction can frequently be a serious consideration, especially for those individuals who are facing a significant DWI-DUI offense. One serious charge that a percentage of drivers end up being accused of is DWI while having young children in the vehicle. Just as a DUI or DWI in a school zone can result in extensive penalties following a conviction, having kids in a motor vehicle while allegedly driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can make for a rather difficult legal situation as well.
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For anyone who believes that driving a motor vehicle in New Jersey after taking a drink or two can’t possibly have any long-term impact on one’s future, just look around sometime. Drinking and driving, while perhaps not as prevalent these days as in decades past, is still a significant and ongoing issue according to most safety advocates, local and state police, and the Garden State’s legislature. As long as traffic accidents, fatal or otherwise, can be tied to drunk driving, it is a near certainty that New Jersey’s police departments will continue to be vigilant for potential DWI or DUI offenders.

But getting back to the impacts that a drunken driving conviction can have, these can be much more than a simple fine, a few points or a period of license suspension. In fact, if you don’t believe that a drunk driving arrest (and subsequent guilty verdict) can affect your life, please consider that for many people it can and does — on a regular basis, we might add. As accomplished New Jersey civil and criminal trial attorneys, my colleagues and I know of numerous instances where a person’s livelihood or career has been adversely affected by a DWI or drug DUI conviction.

My law firm has a great deal of experience defending hard-working people from all around the Garden State; individuals who believed that they were unjustly accused — but also those who know that they can hardly afford the secondary effects of even a single drunk driving offense on their record. For many accused DWI-DUI offenders, the monetary costs of a drunken driving conviction can pale in comparison to the potential professional consequences down the line.
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A news report earlier this month pointed up the danger of drinking and driving, not only in terms of legal liability, but especially due to the serious nature of accidents that can take place when operating a motor vehicle while possibly intoxicated due to alcohol or drugs. As Garden State DWI lawyers, my law firm is always ready to assist those motorists who have been accused of drinking and driving on New Jersey roadways. However, as drivers ourselves, we also know there are numerous risks associated with driving under the influence, many of which can be life-threatening.

That said, and while we in no way condone impaired driving, we do understand that some individuals can be fully unaware of their inebriation due to beer, wine or hard liquor, as well as possible impairment resulting from taking doctor-prescribed medications prior to getting behind the wheel. For those who believe they were unjustly charged with a DWI or drug DUI, my skilled legal team is available to help defendants fight those charges in a court of law.

Sadly, the reality of driving in New Jersey can mean that some people will be involved in a serious automobile or trucking-related accident as a result of some kind of impaired vehicle operation. From a legal standpoint, being charged with drunken driving following an injury-related roadway crash can often mean that the local prosecutor will consider other, more serious charges stemming from the accident itself.
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