Unless one saw it in the paper or caught it online, we now know the top four places in the state that get the most funding for anti-drunken driving enforcement here in the Garden State. As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, my firm is well aware of the lengths that the state and local towns and municipalities will go to arrest more and more drunken drivers, or at least charge motorists with allegedly driving while under the influence of alcohol or prescription medication (drug DUI).
We’ll add here that one doesn’t actually need to be legally drunk to be pulled over by an officer; in fact, the police can not stop a vehicle merely on a hunch that the driver is operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. What needs to happen is the officer only needs to observe that a traffic law has been broken — this can include something as serious as a multi-vehicle accident, or as minor as a burned-out headlight or improper turn-signal usage.
Whatever the reason for the initial traffic stop, a drunken driving arrest may be right around the corner is the officer then detects evidence of driving while under the influence. This also goes for motorists who may have illegal drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, both known as a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Just possessing weed or cannabis in a motor vehicle can precipitate an arrest following a routine traffic stop.
Back to the subject at hand: the top areas of New Jersey one is most likely to be arrested for DWI. According to news reports, a ranking performed by the New Jersey Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund (DDEF) was announced through the state’s attorney general’s office. Based on that ranking, the top funding recipients include the City of Vineland (Cumberland County), Pennsauken Twp (Camden County), the NY/NJ Port Authority (Hudson County), and Elmwood Park (Bergen County).
Interestingly, getting the anti-DWI funds is based on a municipality’s record of drunken driving arrests, which apparently seems to be a self-perpetuating system. According to reports, Elmwood Park may have been fourth on the list, but it still received more than $30,000 in funding, up by 50 percent over 2010. Of course, a fair amount of the fines and fees levied against convicted drunk drivers goes back to the state.
Based on news items, the fines, fees and surcharges collected following DWI arrests have so far amounted to more than $2.6 million, although total surcharge fines have reportedly dropped by about five percent from last year. Still, communities like Elmwood Park are still getting a larger percentage of funding.
While this may be a chicken-or-egg scenario, it’s important to note that one single officer on the Elmwood Park police force was honored by the State of new Jersey just this year for recording more than 150 DWI arrests in 2010. The patrolman, Officer Michael Prelich, exhibited the highest arrest rate in all of Bergen County and the second highest in the entire state of New Jersey; certainly there are few better deterrents to driving while intoxicated within that municipality’s sphere of influence.
Department is one of the best in state with DWI arrests, NorthJersey.com, August 18, 2011