As Garden State DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, my colleagues and I have represented hundreds of individuals for a variety of civil and criminal offenses. When it comes to drunken driving, as experienced trial lawyers, we know that there are numerous approaches to a DWI-DUI defense. While we understand why some people might be averse to hiring a legal representative to stand by them in court, the penalties associated with a drunk driving conviction are significant enough these days to warrant at least a consultation.
We are often asked by potential clients how realistic it is to believe that one can fight a charge of operating a car, truck or motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs. The response to this question has a great deal to do with what the accused driver has in mind for himself as he stands before the court. If someone is already resigned to pleading guilty, then we know that is no way to win a DWI-DUI case.
Being apprehensive about defending oneself is a natural feeling. Most laypeople have little or no knowledge of the law, much less New Jersey’s specific drunken driving statutes. If the thought of going up against a skilled municipal prosecutor and his or her star witness — usually the arresting officer — makes one unsure of their chances of winning their case, perhaps speaking with a qualified DWI attorney might be in order.
As experienced lawyers, my legal team understands that the prosecution will often point to several main pieces of evidence in their effort to prove a motorist was driving under the influence of alcohol. The alleged odor of alcohol on a driver’s breath, erratic driving observed by the arresting officer, or even if the patrolman believed that a driver’s more or less disheveled appearance signaled potential intoxication; these are all possible points of evidence that may be presented to the court.
The prosecution rarely points out that each aforementioned types of evidence can be highly ambiguous and subject to multiple interpretations. In fact, it has been proven in courts all around the country that the observations made by police officers can turn out to be unreliable and often subject to faulty assumptions on the officer’s part.
This said, it should be said that the difference between being charged with DWI at a late-night sobriety roadblock and being arrested following a possible drunk driving-related car accident can be stark. Being the cause of a traffic accident when questions of alcohol or drug use are being raised can be a serious consideration for any motorist accused of DWI.
Not long ago we ran across a news item that briefly outlined a similar scenario involving an out-of-state driver who was involved in a multi-car traffic accident in Bergen County. According to the news report, the 42-year-old driver from the New York City area was hit from behind around 10pm by an unidentified driver. The crash, which took place in the Hackensack area, caused the New York driver’s vehicle to hit the back end of another vehicle driven by one of the county’s police detectives.
The three-car crash brought other police officers to the scene, after which it was determined that the out-of-state motorist was allegedly drunk. According to police reports, the man’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) was measured at police headquarters as 0.17 percent, which is twice the legal limit in New Jersey. He was subsequently charged with DWI. Another complication, according to reports, was that the man’s driver’s license was already suspended due to a lapse in the driver’s automobile insurance.
Despite the accident having been precipitated by another driver, who’s vehicle’s windshield had reportedly fogged up and obscured that driver’s vision, the fact that the out-of-state driver was in his vehicle on the roadway and allegedly intoxicated makes the case against him just a serious. Being an innocent victim of the initial collision would hardly make being intoxicated at the time any less of an offense.
N.Y. man charged with DWI after Hackensack crash, NorthJersey.com, September 4, 2013