Depending on the circumstances, a driver can occasionally be arrested for DWI yet not be physically able to provide police with a breath sample. In some cases, police will then take the suspect to a local hospital to have the person’s blood and urine sampled for evidence of drunken driving. As a New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense lawyer, I and my colleagues have seen many such instances.
A news article not long ago showed what can happen when a driver allegedly operates a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. According to the report, a later afternoon call to the local police department described a possibly intoxicated driver who had moments earlier reportedly struck a parked car on Main Street in Little Ferry, NJ, then drove off.
The driver, who was allegedly operating a grey VW, was followed by the caller to a local apartment complex. Based on police reports, officers arrived at the complex in time to observe the suspect enter one of the apartment units. After knocking, the woman answered the door. Officers apparently asked the suspect if she had just been driving the VW parked out front, to which she answered in the affirmative.
The patrolmen inquired if the woman realized that she had been in an accident, and she reportedly stated that she had. She also stated, according to police reports, that she believed she only tapped her sideview mirror. According to the news report, officers had found the VW’s front passenger-side body panel had been heavily damaged.
During the interview, officers allegedly detected the odor of alcohol on the suspect’s breath. Police also reported that the woman appeared disoriented and that she was not making sense when she answered the patrolmen’s questions. As she walked away from the front door of her apartment, police stated that she appeared to be staggering and swaying.
Inside the apartment, police asked the suspect if she would submit to a sobriety test, to which she responded that she couldn’t due to mental and physical complications. The officer apparently felt it was unwise to have the woman attempt to complete any balance tests, so they placed her under arrest and took her to the local police department where she was charged her with DWI.
Following being read her DWI and Miranda Rights, the suspect was observed for the required 20 minutes prior to administering of a breath test. However, because the department’s breathalyzer was not working correctly, she was taken to the nearby Moonachie Police Department to use that department’s machine.
At the Moonachie Police Dept., the suspect told officers that she might have trouble blowing in the breath testing machine because she has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She reportedly tried three times to provide a sample, none of which were successful. Police then transported the suspect to Hackensack University Medical Center for blood and urine samples. Once the samples were retrieved, the woman was brought back to Little Ferry P.D. headquarters and issues a summons for DWI, careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
Police Report: Little Ferry, NorthJersey.com, January 28, 2011