Do not think for a moment that a drunken driving arrest or drug DUI summons will automatically result in a conviction, fines or jail time. As New Jersey trial lawyers skilled in drunken driving defense, we must say first off that few DWI or impaired driving cases are ever completely hopeless; nor is a conviction for driving while intoxicated, breath test refusal or underage drinking and driving always inevitable. But there is one large caveat to any question regarding drunken driving defense: A motorist must be prepared to fight a DWI charge if he or she can ever hope of coming out ahead.
Time and time again, I and my staff of experienced drunk driving defense attorneys are asked by potential clients about the practical considerations when fighting against a New Jersey DWI-DUI charge. We usually answer their questions by reminding them that nothing can be gained if no effort is expended. Sadly, for many drivers accused of impaired driving, they fail to speak to a qualified DWI expert before stepping into a courtroom.
Certainly, one will never beat a DWI charge by pleading guilty when the time comes. While the local or state prosecutor will usually point out to the court a number of factors that supposedly “prove” the defendant was operating his or her vehicle while under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor, simply having the so-called “odor of alcohol” on one’s breath or driving erratically is not always grounds for a conviction.
And neither is “looking” like you were drunk. A good DWI defense attorney will draw the court’s attention to the lack of hard evidence in statements and observations as mentioned above. Many of these types of observations by an officer can be rather ambiguous and subject to a range of interpretation. Often unreliable these more subject observations can lead to faulty assumptions on the part of the officer during the arrest.
But the important part of any drunken driving arrest would have to be avoiding one in the first place. That means, first and foremost, not getting into a car after one has had a glass of wine or a can of beer. Yet it happens all the time in the Garden State, over and over again. The local police blotter usually has a wide variety of examples of DWI-related incidents that resulted in an arrest for intoxicated driving. Consider the following:
South Brunswick, NJ
According to news articles covering local police activities, patrolmen for the South Brunswick PD reportedly arrested eight individuals during a three-day period in the Middlesex County municipality. Based on police reports, the first arrest came on a Saturday afternoon around 4:30pm when and off-duty officer saw a late-model Ford pickup heading southbound along Rte 130 with no tires on it’s passenger-side wheels.
Apparently calling in for an on-duty officer, the pickup’s driver was stopped for operating his vehicle in a dangerous condition. During the stop, the officer reportedly noticed that the 62-year-old man had the odor of alcohol on his breath. As a result, the driver was arrested and charged with DWI, driving in a reckless fashion, operating an unsafe vehicle, as well as failure to maintain his lane. The man’s truck was impounded and the driver was eventually released pending a court hearing.
In a second instance, police received a report around midnight on a Saturday that a vehicle was being driven erratically along a stretch of Rte 1. According to news articles, the responding officers observed an ’02 Buick sedan apparently exceeding speeding along New Rd., after which they gave chase. Upon stopping the suspect’s vehicle on Constable Rd., officers noticed evidence of drug paraphernalia on the inside of the vehicle as they interviewed the driver at the roadside.
According to reports, the 28-year-old driver allegedly had a glass pipe on his passenger seat and reportedly told the officers that he had been smoking weed. During the investigation, the patrolmen also located what they believed to be heroin and crack on the suspect’s person. The man was eventually arrested and charged with DUI, possession of a CDS (controlled dangerous substance) as well as drug paraphernalia, plus exceeding the posted speed limit and reckless driving. After posting $1,000 bail the man was released pending his court date.
Heroin, crack, pot seized as South Brunswick cops arrest drivers for DUI; NJ.com, March 06, 2013