Being hit with a drunken driving summons in New Jersey is not as rare as some may think. One of the more foolproof methods of avoiding DWI charges is, actually, not drinking and driving at all, period. But even drivers who haven’t had a drop of liquor or beer have been know to be arrested for impaired driving; usually because of prescription drugs or use of an illegal substance, such as cocaine or marijuana (drug DUI).
Frankly, with the number of police patrols out and about on Garden State roadways, there is a high probability that someone, somewhere will be arrested for driving while intoxicated today, tomorrow and the next day. As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, our job is to represent individuals who have been accused of drunk driving, sometimes falsely, in a court of law.
Under the New Jersey statutes, a motorist can be charged with a number of offenses pertaining to alcohol consumption. These include driving while impaired by beer, wine or some other intoxicating substance, driving under the influence of drugs or doctor-prescribed medication, and even refusal to undergo a breathalyzer test.
Each of these equate to serious traffic offenses in the state of New Jersey, and conviction for any one of them can result in harsh penalties being imposed by a judge under the New Jersey DWI statute (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50). Because the law states that “No person is to operate a vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit producing drug,” if you or someone you know is charged with a related offense, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced DWI defense attorney to better understand your options.
Of course, in every instance of a drunken driving arrest, the State must establish that the driver in question was actually operating their car or truck at the time of the arrest for drunk driving. This may sound too obvious, but it is a necessary part of winning a conviction against a driver. In fact, while some people might be amused to hear it, there are numerous instances where a driver has been charged with DWI even though that person was simply sitting in their parked vehicle off the roadway with the motor running.
Hearing of situations like this usually gives the average driver a pretty good idea of the risks involved with imbibing just a little beer, wine or hard liquor before heading home from the restaurant, bar or pub. New Jersey state and local police agencies are not at all tolerant when it comes to drivers who they observe have the mildest intent to drive while intoxicated, much less those who actually hit the road while legally drunk.
Looking back to the parked-car scenario, it is instructive to understand that the prosecution in a drunken driving case need not always prove actual “movement” of the defendant’s vehicle, but simply that it was the driver’s intent to use or operate his or her car and that — if that individual chose to do so — that the vehicle was capable of moving.
It is for these aforementioned reasons, which almost anyone can see, that attempting to drive a vehicle after having any amount of alcohol can result in serious consequences, both in the present and the future. We can touch on the carious penalties that defendants can face in a drunk driving case, but for now suffice it to say that drinking and driving in New Jersey is a gamble that nobody should take if they don’t have to. The risks all around are far too high.