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Under New Jersey law, people can be charged with DWI offenses, even if they were not actually driving at the time of their arrest. Rather, under the DWI law, a person merely has to “operate” a vehicle while intoxicated to be found guilty of DWI. What constitutes operation is a question frequently brought before the New Jersey courts. In a recent ruling in which a DWI conviction was confirmed, a New Jersey court explained what is considered sufficient evidence of operation for purposes of DWI. If you are accused of a DWI crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer to evaluate what defenses you may be able to assert.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that police officers observed the defendant standing on the side of a highway next to his vehicle at approximately 2 am. The vehicle’s lights were flashing, and the defendant was adjusting his pants. The officers spoke with the defendant, who advised that he was on the way home from the casino and stopped to urinate. He admitted he had a drink earlier in the day and agreed to submit to a field sobriety test. He failed the test and refused to provide a breath sample and was subsequently arrested and charged with refusal to submit to a chemical breath test and DWI. He was convicted as charged, after which he appealed. On appeal, he argued, among other things, that the State failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he had the intent to operate his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The appellate court rejected the defendant’s argument and affirmed his conviction.

Operation of a Vehicle

Under New Jersey law, a person that operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more, or while under the influence of alcohol, is guilty of DWI. The court explained that operates is broadly construed to include more than just driving. The operation, then, can be established by numerous circumstances, including an observation of the defendant in or out of the vehicle under circumstances that would indicate the defendant had been driving while intoxicated, actual observation of the defendant driving while intoxicated, or the defendant’s admission. Continue reading

DUI-related crashes are often more likely to be fatal than other accidents, and people that cause deadly DUI collisions may face significant charges and penalties. As with any other crime, however, the prosecution must prove each element of the charges the defendant faces, and if any evidence used to support the State’s case was obtained unlawfully, it might be precluded. Recently, a New Jersey court issued an opinion addressing the grounds for precluding a blood test result in a case where the defendant argued that his arrest was unlawful and his blood sample was not given freely. If you are charged with a DWI offense, it is critical to speak to a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer promptly to discuss your possible defenses.

The Defendant’s Crime

It is reported that the defendant was involved in a collision on a New Jersey morning in August 2014. A car that the defendant struck spun off the road and caught fire. One of the individuals in the car died due to his injuries, and the others were critically wounded. The defendant was taken to a hospital where his blood was drawn. The results of the test indicated he was under the influence of several illicit drugs. He was ultimately charged with and convicted of numerous crimes, including vehicular homicide and assault by auto while under the influence of an intoxicating narcotic. He appealed, arguing in part that this arrest was unlawful and he did not voluntarily submit to a blood test, and therefore, his test results should have been precluded.

Grounds for Precluding a Blood Test

On appeal, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that his blood test was not voluntary because he was advised by the police that it was required, noting that the evidence made it clear that his consent was willingly and intelligently provided. Further, the court noted that while it was undisputed that the defendant was not advised he was under arrest before he consented to a blood draw, the defendant argued he was subject to a de facto arrest and, therefore, his consent was unlawful. Continue reading

In New Jersey, a conviction for a third DWI offense can carry significant penalties, including substantial fines and license suspensions lasting several years. Therefore, it is wise for anyone charged with a third DWI crime to exercise the right to retain a skilled lawyer who will present a compelling defense. The right to be represented by counsel of one’s choice is not an absolute privilege, however, and in some instances, it may be denied due to competing interests, as demonstrated in a recent New Jersey ruling. If you are accused of a third DWI crime, it is in your best interest to retain a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer as soon as possible to help you fight to protect your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the police responded to a report of a car accident. When they arrived at the scene, they saw tire marks on a driveway and grass, a tree that had been run over, and a license plate. They traced the license plate to the defendant and went to her address, where they found her sitting in her vehicle, with the engine running. When they spoke with her, they noted she smelled heavily of alcohol. She was unable to perform field sobriety testing and was arrested for DWI, which was her third offense, and other crimes.

Allegedly, the defendant asked to be represented by a public defender due to the fact that she had no income. Her request was granted, and a public defender was assigned. The defendant did not approve of the attorney, however, or the three subsequent attorneys she was assigned. Her case was delayed for over five months due to her attorney issues, and at her hearing, she requested an additional adjournment so she could retain private counsel. Her request was denied, and she was convicted, after which she appealed. Continue reading

Typically, people who decide to enter a guilty plea to DWI charges are represented by counsel who has fully explained their rights as criminal defendants and the implications of entering such a plea. However, regardless of whether someone enters a plea with or without the presence of an attorney, the court is required to provide a defendant with a colloquy to ensure they fully understand the consequences of pleading guilty. If a proper colloquy is not provided, it may constitute grounds for post-conviction relief. As explained in a recent New Jersey opinion, though, a request for post-conviction relief must be timely; otherwise, it may be denied. If you are charged with a DWI crime, it is smart to speak to a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer to determine your rights.

The History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was arrested for a first offense DWI in 2010. He was represented by counsel during his plea hearing and entered a guilty plea. He specifically admitted that he drove under the influence of alcohol and did not object to the admission of a report regarding his blood alcohol level into evidence. He stated he understood the evidence was more than adequate to support his conviction, and that is why he decided to plead guilty. Further, he advised the judge that he entered his plea voluntarily and freely.

It is reported that he was sentenced to the minimum fines and penalties, and his license was revoked for seven months. In June 2019, the defendant filed a petition for post-conviction relief, arguing he was not provided a proper colloquy. The trial court denied his petition, finding that the colloquy was adequate, and the defendant appealed. Continue reading

Many criminal defendants charged with DWI offenses are eligible for pre-trial intervention (PTI). Not all DWI defendants qualify, however, and if an application for PTI is denied, it can be difficult to obtain a reversal. In a recent New Jersey opinion in a case in which the defendant was charged with DWI and assault by auto, the court explained the appellate process in cases in which a defendant is denied PTI. If you are accused of a DWI offense, you should confer with a trusted New Jersey DWI defense attorney to evaluate your options.

The Defendant’s Charges

It is alleged that the defendant was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle. A person who witnessed the accident told the investigating officers that the defendant’s car was weaving all over the road and crossed the double yellow line before striking the other vehicle. The driver and passenger of the other vehicle both sustained injuries. The defendant was confused and disoriented at the scene but eventually admitted to consuming alcohol. She submitted to a blood test, which revealed her BAC to be three and a half times the legal limit.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with fourth-degree assault by auto and DWI. She then applied to the PTI program, but her application was denied. The denial letter indicated that the circumstances surrounding the accident, including the injuries suffered by the victims, and the victims’ strong objection to the defendant’s application, were the grounds for denial. The defendant appealed the rejection, but her appeal was denied. She then pleaded guilty to her charges and, following her conviction, appealed. Continue reading

It is not uncommon for people to spend time in their cars for purposes other than driving. While generally, sitting in a parked vehicle is not notable, a person sitting in the driver’s seat of a car while intoxicated is deemed to be in operation of the vehicle and it can lead to DWI charges. What constitutes operation of a vehicle was the topic of a recent New Jersey ruling in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for a first time DWI offense. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is prudent to meet with a capable New Jersey DWI defense attorney.

The Alleged Crime

It is reported that a woman noticed the defendant’s car parked by the entrance to the parking lot for her complex. The defendant was sitting in the driver’s seat and was slumped over. The woman observed that the car was still there approximately twenty minutes later and called the police. She then saw the defendant get out of the car and urinate in the bushes, and then notice the car moved.

Allegedly, police dispatched to the scene conducted field sobriety tests, which the defendant failed. He was transported to the police station and charged with DWI. He was convicted following a trial. He appealed, arguing the state failed to show that he was in operation of his car at the time of the alleged crime. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed his conviction. Continue reading

In New Jersey, DWI cases typically proceed in municipal court. In some instances, though, a DWI matter will fall under the jurisdiction of the Superior Court, like in cases in which the defendant causes an accident that results in serious injuries. Recently, a New Jersey court set forth an opinion addressing the discrete issue of whether a DWI case in which the defendant is injured in an accident he caused should proceed in front of the Superior Court, in a case in which the defendant pleaded guilty to a third offense DWI. If you are accused of a DWI crime, it is advisable to speak to a seasoned New Jersey DWI defense attorney to assess your rights.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that in 2007, the defendant entered a guilty plea to the charge of DWI as a subsequent offender, which arose out of a one-car accident. The defendant, who sustained injuries in the accident, was driving alone. The court sentenced him to a 10-year license suspension to run consecutively to a 10-year suspension that began in 2006. In 2018, the defendant moved to vacate his guilty plea. The municipal court granted the motion but determined that in accordance with a New Jersey statute, the Superior Court had the sole right to exercise jurisdiction over the matter. The State appealed, and the court reinstated the defendant’s guilty plea. The defendant then appealed, arguing the lower courts misapplied the applicable law.

Jurisdiction Over DWI Cases

On appeal, the appellate court explained that the plain language of the relevant law clearly stated that DWI-related accidents involving serious injuries fall within the jurisdiction of the Superior Court, not the municipal court. The appellate court noted, though, that the statute did not provide any guidance as to whether it applied to the defendant’s DWI charge, as he was the only person injured in the crash and was not charged with any offense that would invoke the jurisdiction of the Superior Court. Continue reading

Under New Jersey law, licensed drivers who are suspected of DWI are required to submit to breath tests, and if they refuse, they can be charged with a crime in addition to facing DWI charges. The State must prove each element of a defendant’s refusal to submit to a breath test to obtain a conviction, and if they do not, a finding of guilt may be unjust. Recently, a New Jersey court issued an opinion discussing the elements of refusal and the State’s burden of proof in a case in which the defendant unsuccessfully appealed her conviction. If you are faced with a charge of refusal to submit to a breath test, it is prudent to meet with a capable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to determine your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the police responded to a disturbance at a New Jersey courtroom where the defendant was attending a custody hearing. When they arrived, they observed the defendant yelling obscenities and screaming at other officers. They then saw the defendant in the courtroom and noticed she appeared to be intoxicated. The police worried she would drive while intoxicated and followed her to the parking lot, where she entered her vehicle and turned on the engine.

Allegedly, she was arrested and transported to the police station, where she stated she would not offer a breath sample. She was advised if she did not,  she could be charged with refusal to submit, but did not provide a sample. She was charged with DWI and refusal to submit. She was found guilty and then appealed, arguing in part that there was insufficient evidence to sustain her conviction. Continue reading

In some cases in which a defendant is charged with a DWI crime, it makes sense to enter a guilty plea. A defendant must weigh the evidence possessed by the State and the potential penalties he or she may face prior to making the decision to admit to guilt, though, as in many cases, the decision cannot be reversed. This was illustrated in a recent New Jersey opinion in which the court assessed a defendant’s petition for post-conviction relief in a DWI case, arising out of the trial court’s refusal to allow him to reverse his guilty plea to a drug DWI offense. If you are charged with driving while intoxicated, it is advisable to speak to a dedicated New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss your rights.

The Defendant’s Trial

It is alleged that the defendant was driving his car when it slid off the road. The police responded to the scene of the accident, after which the defendant admitted to drinking liquid PCP prior to operating the vehicle. He was charged with a DWI crime, which was his second DWI offense, and other crimes. At his plea hearing, the defendant clearly acknowledged that pleading guilty as charged could result in the loss of his license for up to two years and monetary fines.

It is reported that the defendant nonetheless entered a guilty plea. At his sentencing hearing, however, he informally sought to withdraw his plea, stating that a two-year license suspension would be devastating. The court denied his request and imposed monetary penalties and a two-year license suspension on the defendant. He then filed a motion for post-conviction relief. The court denied his motion without a hearing, and he appealed. Continue reading

A DWI conviction can drastically impact a person’s life, causing harm to the individual’s reputation and career prospects. Even if a person charged with DWI has compelling defenses, there is usually a risk that a trial could result in a guilty verdict.  Thus, in some instances, it may be prudent for a person to plead guilty to a lesser offense. This was the path chosen recently by a basketball player at a New Jersey university who was faced with charges of DWI and other offenses and entered into a plea deal. If you are charged with a DWI offense, you may face significant penalties if you are convicted, and it is in your best interest to meet with a knowledgeable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Plea

It is reported that the defendant, a basketball player for a New Jersey University, was stopped by a police officer for failing to stop at a stop sign. When the officer approached the vehicle, he observed that the defendant’s demeanor and smell suggested that he had been drinking alcohol. He submitted to field sobriety testing, which he failed. He was subsequently arrested and charged with DWI, reckless driving, and other traffic offenses. Several months after his arrest, he pleaded guilty to the reckless driving charge, and the DWI offense was dropped by the State. He was sentenced to pay a fine and lost his driver’s license for 60 days.

Penalties for DWI Convictions in New Jersey

In New Jersey, the penalties for a DWI crime vary depending on several factors, including the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, whether the defendant caused an accident or injured anyone during the commission of the offense, and whether he or she has prior DWI convictions. Generally, a person charged with a first time DUI with a BAC under 0.10% faces fines between $250 and $400, increased insurance rates, and the loss of his or her license for three months. A sentence for such an offense may also include jail time up to 30 days, an ignition interlock requirement for up to a year, and mandatory alcohol abuse classes. If the defendant’s BAC was 0.10% or higher, he or she faces stricter penalties, as do people charged with second or subsequent DWI offenses. Conversely, a person convicted of reckless driving typically results in fines and the temporary loss of a license. Continue reading

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