While many DWI charges rely on the defendant’s blood-alcohol level to prove guilt, not all do. In fact, a defendant can be found guilty of DWI despite the lack of chemical testing. The evidence presented must nonetheless be sufficient to demonstrate that the defendant operated a vehicle while impaired. Recently, a New Jersey court issued an opinion discussing what constitutes competent evidence of intoxication in a case in which the defendant challenged his DWI conviction. If you are accused of a DWI offense, it is smart to confer with a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer to evaluate what evidence the State may attempt to use against you.
The Defendant’s Arrest and Trial
It is reported that police officers were dispatched to investigate reports of a vehicle hitting a parked car numerous times. They were provided a description of the vehicle that matched an SUV they had observed earlier in a parking lot. They returned to the lot and saw the defendant standing outside of the SUV. When the officers spoke with the defendant, he appeared highly intoxicated and admitted to drinking four or five beers.
Allegedly, the officers determined that it was not safe to perform field sobriety testing but arrested the defendant and transported him to the police station, where he underwent a breath test. The defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including DWI. At the trial, evidence regarding his breath test was deemed inadmissible. He was convicted based on the arresting officers’ testimony, after which he appealed.
Evidence of Intoxication
On appeal, the defendant argued, in part, that there was insufficient evidence to establish that he operated a vehicle while intoxicated. The court disagreed and affirmed his arrest. The court noted that the DWI statute requires proof that a defendant operated a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor to obtain a conviction. The defendant conceded that he operated his SUV but argued the evidence did not show he was under the influence at the time. The court explained that a driver is under the influence of alcohol if he or she suffers from diminished physical coordination or mental faculties.
Intoxication includes not only obvious signs of drunkenness but also any degree of impairment that impacts a person’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. In the subject case, the court found that the arresting officers testified credibly regarding the defendant’s condition at the time of his arrest, and that their testimony was more than adequate to support the defendant’s conviction.
Meet with an experienced New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney
Many people mistakenly believe they cannot be charged with a first offense DWI in NJ absent chemical testing, but blood alcohol levels are not required for DWI arrests or convictions. If you are accused of committing a DWI offense, it is advisable to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible regarding your options. The experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are skilled at helping people charged with DWI offenses fight to protect their rights, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly to help you pursue a just result. You can reach us through our form online or at 877-450-8301 to set up a conference.