One of the many questions that we get from prospective clients — those individuals who have been charged with driving while intoxicated on New Jersey roadways — is whether or not they can have their case heard by a jury. As experienced trial attorneys, I and my colleagues have a great deal of collective experience representing defendants who have been accused of a criminal act or civil offense. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, the average drunken driving case does not rise to the level of a criminal offense.
Here in the Garden State, charges of DWI or DUI do not typically call for a jury trial as do more serious offenses. That said, it should also be stated that being convicted for driving while intoxicated or impaired operation of a motor vehicle due to prescription medication (or even illegal substances) can be costly for most any defendant. So even though a DWI-DUI arrest may not merit a trial by jury, there is no reason not to take the event seriously, if only to protect one’s own pocketbook.
In cases where a Garden State motorist has been charged with driving under the influence, the prosecutor’s office in charge of the case still have the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty of the charges beyond any reasonable doubt; this is the highest standard of proof required in our legal system. As a former municipal prosecutor myself, I know that the state will usually bring forward every piece of viable evidence in order to prove a driver guilty of DWI.
As a drunken driving defense attorney, I and my team of skilled trial lawyers take our jobs very seriously when defending individuals against a drinking and driving charge. In doing so, we consider each and every item of evidence presented by the prosecution so that they may systematically be challenged to the point of introducing reasonable doubt as to the veracity of the state’s case against the defendant.
Aside from those questionable facts brought by the prosecutor’s office, there may be other related facts pertaining to the arrest that might work in favor of the defendant when fighting a DWI summons or drunk driving arrest. The actions or inaction by the arresting officer are often brought up during a hearing in an effort to show that the state’s evidence was either tainted by or invalidated outright by lack of proper police procedure as required by law.
Certainly, one could argue that the behavior of the arresting officer might influence the court as to whether an arrest was legitimate or, at the very least, carried out correctly as prescribed by New Jersey law. We thought of this recently as we were looking back at some older news stories. One particular story involving a DWI arrest in Somerset County, NJ, caught our eye.
According to the news report, a Piscataway driver had filed a civil suit against a Hillsborough Twp. Policeman claiming that she was assaulted by the officer during a traffic stop last October. The article described the lawsuit, which stated that the patrolman used “unreasonable and excessive” actions during the woman’s arrest on alleged drunk driving charges.
The arrest reportedly precipitated from an early morning motor vehicle stop in mid-October along a stretch of Amwell Rd near Piney Woods Dr. The motorist was apparently pulled over for failing to keep right, but eventually was charged with a number of offenses including DWI and breath test refusal. Police also accused the woman of resisting arrest, which may be related to the lawsuit since the plaintiff charges that the officer “illegally assaulted, arrested and detained” her following that traffic stop. A similar suit was filed against the police department as well.
Cop Sued for Alleged Assault During DWI Arrest, Patch.com, January 18, 2013