Nobody needs the sugar-coated version of DWI defense. When it comes to being arrested for driving drunk, many motorists are either taken by surprise or become resentful of the whole process and how demeaning it can be to a grown adult. But remember, driving while intoxicated is a serious offense, and here in New Jersey there are stiff penalties and even jail time waiting for those who are convicted. Naturally, it depends on the facts of the case and whether or not this was a first offense, but by the time the hearing begins, the damage to one’s reputation may already be done.
Ruined relationships, marital problems, and damaged careers are just a few of the non-legal effects that a drunken driving arrest, much less a full-blown DWI conviction can have on a person, especially an individual who formerly may have been a highly respected member of his or her community or profession. If avoiding the expensive monetary penalties and fees associated with a drunken driving conviction isn’t enough to dissuade people from having a beer or glass of wine before getting behind the wheel, certainly the social and professional embarrassment can be a strong motivator.
Remember that here in the Garden State many motorists are caught unaware that they were legally drunk at the time of a traffic stop. According to some experts, it doesn’t take much alcohol to cause physical and mental impairment that could affect a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. As such, it doesn’t take much alcohol consumption, at least for some people, to reach or exceed the legal limit (specifically 0.08 percent blood-alcohol concentration) and become prime candidates for a DWI arrest.
Understanding that the police cannot simply pull a car over if they merely suspect the driver is impaired from alcohol or prescription drugs is a rather important point. If the officer does not have a legitimate reason for stopping a motorist, that is, if no moving violation or other offense was observed any subsequent DWI arrest may not have been legal from the court’s perspective. This is why it is always a good idea to consult with a qualified legal expert, someone who is well versed in New Jersey’s drunken driving laws, before ever standing in front of a judge.
That said, if a patrolman sees a car go through a red light or execute an illegal or improper maneuver, even the most minor of infractions can get a driver pulled over. After that, be aware that you will be under very close scrutiny, as the officer will be looking for signs of intoxication or other impairment, such as from doctor-prescribed medications or even illegal substances like marijuana. It is possible that an officer may have picked up on a driver’s loose manner prior to observing a specific infraction. Those tell-tale signs that a motorist may be tipsy can include drifting within one’s lane, driving much below the posted speed limit for that stretch of roadway, or erratic and nonsensical vehicle speed changes.
Once stopped, the officer will likely ask the driver a number of questions, the manner in which the answers come are almost more important than the actual content of the response. Nevertheless, if the officer suspects the driver is impaired, the jog may be up and it will likely lead to several of the standardized field sobriety tests. If failed, the driver may be taken into custody and asked to take a breathalyzer test to determine blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). There is more to discuss in this regard, but we will continue on that topic in the future.