Proof of Operation of a Vehicle in DWI Cases Is Analyzed by New Jersey Court

If a person is charged with a DWI crime in New Jersey, the State must prove each element of the alleged offense to obtain a conviction. In other words, the State must not only prove that the defendant was impaired due to the ingestion of alcohol, but also that the defendant was operating a vehicle while he or she was impaired. Recently, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence of the operation of a vehicle to obtain a DWI conviction. If you reside in New Jersey and are currently charged with a DWI crime, it is advisable to meet with a capable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss what evidence the State may introduce against you.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the police were called to check on a suspicious vehicle parked in a residential area. Upon arriving on the scene, the police observed the defendant was asleep in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. The police woke the defendant up and questioned him regarding where he was that evening. The defendant stated that he was at a birthday party for his brother and became tired on the way home, so he pulled over and fell asleep. The defendant admitted to consuming one glass of wine.

Allegedly, the defendant submitted to field sobriety testing, which he failed. He was subsequently arrested and taken to the police station, where he was given a breathalyzer test. The test showed that the defendant’s BAC was 0.08%. The defendant was charged with and convicted of DWI. He appealed, arguing in part that the trial court committed an error in finding beyond a reasonable doubt that he operated his vehicle while intoxicated.

Evidence of Operation of a Vehicle

Under New Jersey Law, the police do not need to observe a defendant driving a vehicle for a defendant to be convicted of DWI. Instead, the operation of a vehicle can be proven if the police witness the defendant in or around a vehicle, under circumstances that infer the defendant was driving while intoxicated. In order to make an arrest for DWI, the police must possess reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. Further, the State only needs to prove by a fair preponderance of the evidence that the defendant was operating a vehicle while legally intoxicated to show that the police had probable cause to arrest a defendant for DWI.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that the trial court had sufficient credible evidence to find that the defendant was both legally intoxicated and in operation of his vehicle at the time of his arrest. As such, the appellate court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

Speak with an Experienced New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

It is critical for people charged with a DWI to understand what evidence the State may introduce against them at trial. If you live in New Jersey and are charged with a DWI offense, you should speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorney regarding your available defenses. The seasoned attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have the skills and knowledge needed to help you seek a favorable result, and they will fight assertively on your behalf.  You can reach us through our form online or at 877-450-8301 to schedule a free and confidential meeting to discuss your charges.

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