Being stopped by a New Jersey State Police officer or local cop for a traffic offense can be unnerving enough for most people without the added concern of being arrested for DWI. As Garden State drunken driving defense lawyers, my firm is all too aware of the emotions that can come to the surface when faced with a summons for driving under the influence. Often frightening, and certainly unsettling, the experience of being taken into custody is only overshadowed by the potential financial impact that a DWI or drug DUI conviction can have on an individual or his family.
The state of New Jersey has long since banned plea bargaining as a common avenue to having a drunk driving charge dismissed or downgraded. Because of this, many people might wonder why they should even consider retaining a DWI attorney at all. First and foremost, an experienced legal expert can look for flaws in the state’s case, which can range from the way the police officer conducted the traffic stop prior to the DWI arrest, to the procedures followed or skipped after the driver submitted to a breathalyzer device in order to determine his or her blood-alcohol concentration (BAC).
When asking why one should hire a lawyer for a DWI or drug DUI defense, it may be more important to ask what the secret to success is when it comes to avoiding a conviction. At the very least, someone accused of driving drunk should contact a qualified professional to determine if fighting a drunk driving summons would be fruitful or if a downgrade is possible. In our experience, identifying any potential issues that may undermine the state’s ability to prove the DWI-DUI offense is a key objective when discussing a defendant’s options going forward.
My legal team’s unique training and extensive courtroom experience often prove invaluable when defending motorists accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs. In fact, the lawyers at my firm possess credentials that are second to none when it comes to defending drivers who have been charged with these and other similar offenses.
When a driver has been stopped for a traffic violation, the odds of him or her being arrested and charged with drunk driving rise considerably once several required elements of the state’s DWI law have been satisfied in the eyes of the police. These include proof that the individual was, in fact, in control of a motor vehicle and that the driver was intoxicated as defined by our state’s legal statutes.
Proving operation of a motor vehicle may seem like an obvious and easily demonstrated fact, but there are important details even in this simple requirement. As an example, consider that many people have been convicted of drunk driving having only been observed by police sitting in the driver’s seat of their parked car.
On the above point, it is important to remember that the element of “vehicle operation” can be a troublesome one for defendants. This is because it is not essential that the prosecution prove that there was actual physical movement of the defendant’s vehicle, but only that the police believed the driver had “intent” to operate said vehicle AND that the vehicle was, in fact, capable of moving.
When proving intent, the prosecution will typically point to evidence that the defendant had inserted the ignition key and/or that the key was already in the ignition and the vehicle was running. When evidence in this regard is lacking or questionable, my firm’s lawyers are prepared to defend our clients whenever a potentially viable defense exists, which can occur from time to time as the issue of vehicle operation in DWI cases can be complicated in a legal sense.
As for proving a person was under the influence, the law defines intoxication as a “substantial deterioration or diminution of the mental faculties or physical capabilities of a person,” which results from ingestion of alcohol or drugs. For many DWI defendants, intoxication from beer, wine or hard liquor is typically established on what the legal profession knows as a “per se” basis.
In drunken driving cases, this typically means that the prosecution will provide evidence in the form of blood-alcohol content (BAC) measurements — gathered from breath samples or blood tests – tat demonstrate to the court that the defendant had a BAC at or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Even if the prosecution is unable to establish this “per se” violation via breath or blood samples, the state can still attempt to establish intoxication based on the results of field sobriety testing administered by a police officer during the roadside traffic stop.
Depending on the circumstances, most anyone who is accused of DWI or drug DUI should, at the very least, consult with an attorney skilled in defending drunk driving cases. The penalties here in New Jersey that are a consequence of a DWI-DUI conviction can be significant, and there is little reason not to seek sound advice from a qualified professional before setting foot into any courtroom. Especially in cases of a second or subsequent offense, the penalties will be even more severe.