Sometimes it seems that getting arrested for drunken driving or drug DUI in the Garden State is about as easy as going to the supermarket. While a percentage of the individuals that contact our office feel they deserved being arrested for driving while intoxicated by alcohol or impaired by prescription medication, many others believe they were unjustly accused or occasionally singled out.
Of course, as New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, I and my colleagues know that legally a police officer cannot stop a vehicle simply on the hunch that the driver of that car or truck may be under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor. Similarly, assuming that a motorist is impaired by drugs, such as cocaine, pot or meth, is not enough evidence for a patrolman to pull over an automobile and check for illicit drugs, also known as controlled dangerous substances (CDS).
This is not to say that some officers act solely on a hunch, but they must have a concrete reason for stopping a driver; usually and observed violation of traffic laws, such as failure to yield, speeding, improper lane usage or lack of using one’s turn signal. Once a violation — regardless of how simple or seemingly insignificant — has been observed by a patrolman, a traffic stop can legally be initiated and further investigation of the vehicle and its occupants may be precipitated.
The following are a few items taken from the police blotters in Essex County. Like most DWI and drug DUI arrests, many of these stops began as basic traffic violations and then escalated into more serious charges against the driver. Monetary penalties for drunken driving and impaired driving due to prescription (or illegal) drug use can be quite stiff. As such, most New Jersey motorists should seriously consider the consequences of a DWI or DUI conviction before walking into a courtroom without a qualified DWI defense attorney at their side.
Bloomfield, NJ, Man Arrested for Drug DUI
A Bloomfield resident was arrested stopped by police for what appears to have been a routine traffic stop. What officers found after their initial stop was a motorist who was allegedly impaired due to some kind of drug use. The stop occurred in the vicinity of Bloomfield Ave. and Grove St., not far from a school zone. After pulling the suspect’s vehicle over, officers approaching the car reportedly detected the odor or burnt marijuana coming, allegedly, from within the vehicle. Being questions, the motorist admitted that he had recently smoked weed.
During the course of their investigation, the police officers in charge located two packages of pot, along with a number of burnt marijuana cigarettes. According to police reports, approximately 1.5gm of the drug were discovered and held for evidence. The driver was arrested for possession and taken into police custody. The man was charged with possession of a CDS, as well as operating a motor vehicle while on a suspended license, failure to produce a valid insurance certificate, driving an unregistered vehicle, and DUI within 1000ft of a school.
Two Drunken Driving Arrests in Montclaire, New Jersey As part of a Thursday afternoon traffic stop, Montclaire police officers responded to a 911 call advising them of a traffic accident on Park St. Arriving at the scene. The patrolmen observed a Ford sport utility vehicle sitting off to the side of the road on a neighboring sidewalk. The 34-year-old driver was already out of the car when police arrived. The driver, a man from Verona, NJ, was arrested for a number of traffic-related violations including DWI, possession of medication without a valid prescription from a doctor.
In a second incident, police arrested another driver in the early morning hours on a Sunday. According to reports, officers responded to a call from a concerned person that a car was being driven in an erratic fashion near S. Mountain Ave. The phone caller described the subject vehicle, which was subsequently located by police. After finding the vehicle, police officers apparently determined that the 39-year-old Glen Ridge driver was operating her vehicle while impaired. She was eventually arrested and taken into custody’ Charges included DWI as well as other related offenses.
Drunk and Disorderly at Heartbreakers, Burglary at VIP; Patch.com; May 10, 2012
Police Blotter: Drunk Driving and Stolen TVs, Patch.com, May 9, 2012
Bloomfield: Police blotter, May 8; NorthJersey.com; May 8, 2012