Most motorists, when charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, usually experience trepidation when facing an upcoming hearing to decide their guilt or innocence. Entering a courtroom without a firm knowledge of the law pertaining to DWI or drug DUI can be a misstep for many people, which can often lead to a conviction and all the associated fines, fees and assessments as provided by New Jersey’s drunk driving statutes.
As Garden State drunken driving defense attorneys, my staff of skilled trial lawyers understands how the state’s case — as pursued by many municipal prosecutors — can turn on the lack of evidence collected by the police during a DWI or DUI traffic stop. While some motorists may understand how the law works, many more can be at some disadvantage when they face a judge alone as the prosecuting attorney brings point after point in support of a guilty verdict.
As a former municipal prosecutor myself, I have worked on the other side of the aisle as advocate for the state. This background, which I share with several other members of my law firm, gives me additional insight into numerous strategies and legal tactics that the state may employ to obtain a drunk driving conviction. Of course, much of what counts as evidence in a DWI or drug DUI case is attained by police at the roadside, as well as back at police headquarters.
Whether an arrest takes place following a routine traffic stop, or during a late-night sobriety checkpoint, the importance of speaking with a qualified attorney should never be discounted. Especially with the stiff penalties that can accompany a guilty verdict, there is little reason to forego a consultation with an experienced defense attorney.
As we have said many times before, the process all starts when a driver finds himself being pulled over for some moving violation or other, sometimes minor, driving infraction. Motorists are stopped daily in counties such as Monmouth, Bergen, Union and Atlantic; often these encounters involve some kind of interaction with a patrolman or state police trooper.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the initial traffic offense, if the officer believes that the driver may be intoxicated by alcohol or some other substance, an arrest may be the end result. The following selections from the police blotters in Morris, Hunterdon and Sussex counties provide some insight into the kinds of police stops that can result in a DWI arrest or DUI charges.
Rockaway Driver Stopped for Speeding, Arrested for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia According to news reports, police in Morris County stopped a 54-year-old driver along a stretch of Rte 206 after officers observed the man’s ’00 Chevy exceeding the speed limit in the northbound lane, laet on a Tuesday afternoon. Based on police reports, the suspect’s vehicle was pulled over near Chestnut Way in Mount Olive, after which patrolmen detected the odor of burnt marijuana during his interview with the driver on the roadside.
As a result, the officer reportedly obtained the motorist’s consent to search the vehicle. During the search, the patrolman allegedly found marijuana, as well as related paraphernalia, according to the news article. The driver was placed under arrest and taken to police headquarters to recive formal charges. He was subsequently released pending a courtroom appearance.
Sussex County Motorist Picked Up for DWI and Reckless Driving in Hopatcong, NJ Police reports indicated that a 31-year-old man was arrested for DWI after police found the man’s vehicle apparently parked on a snow bank. According to reports, the arrest took place just after midnight on a Thursday morning when a Hopatcong PD officer saw a vehicle parked on a snow bank where it hadn’t been previously, just minutes earlier.
According to news articles, the patrolman observed a man, who was believed by police to be the driver of the parked car, walking along the road. Stopping to question the pedestrian, the man allegedly denied that he drove the vehicle at first; however, police later stated that the man did admit having driven the vehicle onto the snow bank. Apparently suspecting intoxication, police requested the suspect to perform a number of field sobriety tests, which he reportedly failed.
The man was placed under arrest after being searched, during which the patrolman found a plastic baggie allegedly containing a quantity of marijuana, as well as a pipe for smoking. Taken to police headquarters, the driver reportedly registered a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of twice the legal limit, according to police. He was charged and later released pending a court date.
Hunterdon County Patrolmen Arrest Two Motorists for DWI A Lambertville patrolman stopped a vehicle just after midnight on a Saturday morning after allegedly observing the driver’s vehicle drift out of its lane along a stretch of Wilson St. According to police reports, the 33-year-old Mount Laurel resident taken into custody and eventually charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as breath test refusal. The woman was subsequently released pending an appearance in municipal court.
In another instance, a Lambertville police officer responded to a complaint from a concerned citizen, who reportedly observed a vehicle being driven in an allegedly erratic manner along a portion of Rte 29. The officer apparently located the suspect vehicle and stopped the driver. During the traffic stop, police reportedly found that the 30-year-old driver was operating his vehicle on a suspended license. In addition, the news report indicated that the officer in charge believed that the motorist was also intoxicated. Following the arrest, the man was charged with reckless driving, DWI, operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license, and having open alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle.
Rockaway man nabbed for speeding, drug paraphernalia; NJHerald.com; March 6, 2014
Hopatcong man arrested for drunk, reckless driving; NJHerald.com; March 6, 2014
POLICE BLOTTER: Feb. 13; CentralJersey.com; February 12, 2014