Not all DWI charges are based on a driver’s blood alcohol level at the time of the arrest. Instead, many DWI charges and convictions arise out of the fact that the arresting officer observed the defendant operating a vehicle while in an impaired state. Regardless of the nature of the evidence presented at trial, the prosecution must prove a defendant committed a DWI offense beyond a reasonable doubt, and if it cannot, the defendant should be found not guilty. In a recent opinion, a New Jersey court discussed the sufficiency of observational evidence in a matter in which it ultimately upheld the defendant’s conviction for a third offense DWI. If you are accused of a third or subsequent DWI crime, it is smart to speak to a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer to assess your options.
The Defendant’s Arrest
It is reported that the arresting officer received a call regarding a car that was parked in the middle of an intersection. When he arrived at the scene, he observed the defendant sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car. The defendant was playing very loud music, was slumped over, and had a small child in the back of the car. When the officer spoke with the defendant, he noticed his speech was slurred, and he had a half-empty bottle of liquor in the counsel.
Allegedly, the defendant agreed to submit to field sobriety testing. The officer noted that the defendant had an odor of alcohol on his breath. The defendant was unable to perform the testing and was subsequently arrested and charged with multiple crimes, including third offense DWI. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the State failed to produce sufficient evidence to sustain a DWI conviction based on the observational prong of the statute. Upon review, the appellate court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.
The Sufficiency of Observational Evidence in DWI Cases
Under New Jersey law, it is illegal for a person to operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The State can prove a defendant violated the DWI statute via proof of the defendant’s blood-alcohol level or by demonstrating the defendant’s physical condition at the time of the operation of the vehicle. The law does not require a person to be overwhelmingly intoxicated; rather, it is adequate to show that the defendant consumed enough alcohol to detrimentally impact his or her mental faculties or physical coordination. In the subject case, the court found that there was ample evidence to support the assertion that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of his arrest. Thus, his conviction was affirmed.
Confer with a Dedicated New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney
A conviction for a third offense DWI in New Jersey can result in significant penalties, including fines and jail time, and it is prudent for anyone charged with such a crime to confer with a lawyer as soon as possible. If you are accused of a DWI crime, the dedicated New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have the skills and resources needed to help you seek a favorable outcome in consideration of the circumstances. If you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us via our online form or at 877-450-8301 to schedule a meeting.