Drunk While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense and carries with it severe, potentially crippling consequences, but just because you are stopped and charged with a DWI does not mean that there is nothing that can be done for you. It still falls to the state to prove that you were in fact intoxicated at the time of the stop and there are four ways that they can go about doing this.
The state uses the Alcotest 7110 designed and manufactured by Draeger Industries, which was first put into use in 2003. The Supreme Court of New Jersey has previously held that such use of the Alcotest 7110 is scientifically reliable based on its decision in State v. Chun, 194 N.J. 54 (2008). It works by conducting two tests an Infrared Radiation test and an Electrochemical Test that give back a concise, accurate reading of your BAC at the time of arrest.
Though this is a fairly reliable measurement, there are still many defenses to the veracity of the readings. The most common of these defenses relate to machine malfunction and improper administration. The machine must be shown to have been properly serviced and inspected once every six months. The operator must observe the suspect for a full twenty minutes before the administration of the test and the mouthpiece must be changed in between each sample that is collected. These among other things are common procedural mistakes that may lead to inaccuracies in the readings and ultimately the inadmissibility of the state’s evidence against you.
Admission of Guilt
It is possible and surprisingly common that a person that is pulled over for a DWI will admit to the officer that he or she has been drinking and by this give an “admission of guilt”. This does not mean, though, that this admission can be used against you in a court of law. Did the officer read you your Miranda Rights before the admission? Were you fully informed of your rights to remain silent? Rights to an attorney? If the answer to these questions is no, then you would have legitimate grounds for having your admission stricken from the record, because it has been obtained illegally.
Though rarely used because of the accuracy of the Alcotest 7110, there are still a number of occasions under which a blood test may be given in preference to the breath test. These occasions mostly occur when the party involved was injured in the event leading to arrest. If a person is injured in a suspected drunk driving incident and requires immediate medical attention, a blood sample will often be requested by the police from an attending medical staffer to determine blood alcohol content (BAC). This test is often done at the hospital and by a professional, but there are still a few ways to go about tackling the accuracy of the results. It is not uncommon for the chain of custody on the sample to be off. The test that is used for this comes out of the case of Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966). Under this test, it is up to the prosecution to show that the sample could not be obtained under normal circumstances and that their actions of taking a blood sample without a warrant were justified under the circumstances. This can often be a difficult hurdle for them to overcome.
Field Sobriety Tests
Subsequent to a stop, the first step that is often taken before a breath or blood test are even conducted is that a field sobriety test will be administered to attempt to objectively judge your ability to operate a motor vehicle. This test consists of several physical and psychological components ranging from ability to walk to ability to stand to speech, demeanor, actions, eyes, clothing, the movement of your hands, the look of your face and even your odor. However, even if conducted properly, these tests are easily attacked by showing that certain subjective elements related directly to you made the test an inaccurate judge of your ability to operate a vehicle.
An experienced attorney will know how to attack each and everyone of these possible sources of evidence of proof of your intoxication. Here at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we have over 100 years of combined experience defending against DWI charges in the state of New Jersey. In addition to having four of our lawyers certified in the operation of the Alcotest 7110, the breath test device used in the state of New Jersey to measure BAC, we also boast three of only five attorneys in the state that are Certified Field Sobriety Instructors, instructors that know the ins and outs of the protocol that must be followed by police in performing Field Sobriety Tests. So please, if you or a loved one has been charged with a DWI offense in the state of New Jersey, do not hesitate to contact one of our conveniently located offices around the state.