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.
As evidence of what can happen, consider that news stories abound describing those drivers who have been charged with operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or prescription drugs (drug DUI). Here is a smattering of the ones we ran into only a short while ago. They illustrate the potential for a drunk driving arrest even under the most mundane of circumstance, which is how many DWI-DUI arrests usually occur, as well as following traffic wrecks caused by alleged drunken drivers.
Sussex County Driver Arrested in Mount Olive, NJ
A 44-year-old Stanhope resident was reportedly arrested for DWI on a Sunday evening after a police officer observed the driver of a vehicle headed eastbound along Rte 46 apparently having trouble staying in his lane. According to news articles, the patrolman was making his rounds in the Budd Lake area a little before 11pm when he witnessed the suspect’s Honda exceeding the speed limit and making an unsafe lane change.
The officer in charge pulled the vehicle over and as he interviewed the driver noticed that the man was apparently intoxicated from alcohol consumption. The officer has the man perform several field sobriety tests on the roadside before arresting and charging him with driving under the influence of alcohol. After being taken to police headquarters and given a breathalyzer test to check for his blood-alcohol concentration (BAC), the motorist was charged with DWI, as well as speeding, reckless driving and following another vehicle too closely.
Ocean County Traffic Accident Nets One Driver a DWI
Following a reported hit-and-run traffic accident in a gated senior citizen community, Toms River police officers arrived to find a Dodge pickup laying on its roof and local witnesses stating that a second vehicle had left the scene of the accident not long before the officers arrived. Patrolmen eventually located the alleged hit-and-run driver, a 53-year-old woman from another retirement community. Based on police reports, the woman had been injured in the crash and was taken to Community Medical Center for treatment. Eventually, the woman was charged with DWI as well as a number of other traffic violations.
Out-of-State Driver Charged with Drunken Driving following Three-Car Crash in Hudson County
A 58-year-old driver from Staten Island, NY, was charged with DWI and reckless driving after he allegedly caused in a multi-vehicle accident along a stretch of Rte 440 in Bayonne, NJ. According to news reports, the driver claimed that he “blacked out” prior to the chain-reaction traffic wreck on a Wednesday evening. After being taken to the hospital for treatment of chest pains, which he began to experience upon waking, the driver was charged with drunken driving, plus reckless driving and failure to exhibit documents.
After 3-car accident in NJ, Staten Island man charged with DWI; SILive.com; February 16, 2013
Stanhope man charged with DWI, NJHerald.com, February 11, 2013
Driver Charged with DWI in Lake Ridge Motor Vehicle Accident, Patch.com, December 9, 2012