Being slapped with a charge of DWI, drug DUI, or breath test refusal can be a shock to more than one driver, especially if he or she has never before received a summons for drinking and driving. For those uninitiated in the typical process of being arrested and charged with driving under the influence, the actual reasons can sometimes seem more innocent and hardly worth mentioning; however, the consequences are far from trivial.
As New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyers, I and my staff have read of and tried enough DWI and drug DUI cases to understand that the average motorist can be stunned by the speed at which a drunken driving arrest takes place. For many, it all begins with a simple and seemingly minor infraction; consider, for instance, a driver who just made a turn without signaling.
Since New Jersey drunken driving law does not allow a police officer to stop a motorist solely on the suspicion of that individual has had too much to drink — and is possibly impaired by alcohol or prescription medication (aka drug DUI) — the patrolman must observe a chargeable moving violation being committed to effect a traffic stop.
Of course, after an offer has a legitimate reason to pull a driver over for, say, a broken taillamp or ignoring a stop sign, a closer inspection of the driver and vehicle contents can lead to further action. If a driver exhibits signs of intoxication, or if the officer notices evidence of alcohol of drug use within the confines of the vehicle, he or she may as the driver to step out of the vehicle to perform one or more of the standardized field sobriety tests.
Once an officer has reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired, the result can be an arrest as well as a trip to police headquarters for a breathalyzer test and processing. This is the beginning of what can be a costly experience for any motorist, with monetary penalties, potential loss of license, and even jail time — never mind the negative affect a conviction might have on the defendant’s job, his or her personal relationships, or other social stigmatization.
Take a look at any of the dozens of local police blotters published online and in newspapers across the Garden State, and one can get a feel for the types of DWI arrests that happen on a fairly regular basis to average people everywhere. For curiosity’s sake, the following are a few actual drunken driving scenarios that have occurred in and around Ocean County of late.
Two Drivers Charged with DWI on Same Day
Early on a Sunday morning, a car was apparently observed by police officers being driven in a reportedly reckless fashion. Upon seeing that the driver couldn’t seem to keep his car within the lane markings, and that he nearly lost control of his vehicle at one point while trying to enter Lakehurst Circle, police pulled the 22-year-old over along a stretch of westbound Rte 37. The resulting traffic stop netted the driver numerous charges including driving under the influence, failure to maintain a lane, plus driving with an obstructed view of the road.
Just after noon that same day, and in the same general location, a Jackson, NJ, resident was stopped by police after officers saw the driver of a truck operating his vehicle at what was described as a high rate of speed. According to police reports, the 54-year-old driver almost lost control of his vehicle. Police pulled the truck over, arrested and charged the driver with careless, as well as reckless driving, plus failure to maintain his lane. The man was processed and subsequently released pending an appearance in municipal court.
Wrong-way Driver Arrested for DUI on Rte 37
A local resident was stopped by Brick Twp. police officers in the early morning hours on a Friday after patrolmen observed a car turn left onto Rte 37 and begin driving in a westerly direction in the eastbound lanes. The officers, who just passing through Toms River while transporting a prisoner to the Ocean County Jail, pursued the wrong-way driver in a parallel course along the westbound lanes of Rte 37.
After numerous attempts to gain the driver’s attention and try to get him to stop and turn around, the officers speeded up and drove ahead of the suspect’s vehicle; entering an upcoming intersection they were able to force the driver to pull over. During the ensuing traffic stop, the 46-year-old Toms River resident reportedly handing the patrolmen his car keys while stating that he was “too drunk to drive.”
The man was handed over to a Toms River police officer who took him into custody and charged the motorist with reckless driving, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, and driving while intoxicated.
DUI Arrest For Man Driving Wrong Way on Route 37, Patch.com, February 11, 2012
Police Blotter: Charges Issued by Lakehurst Officers, Patch.com, February 10, 2012