Police make hundreds of traffic stops each day throughout New Jersey. While many of these interactions between law enforcement officers and motorists end with a citation for a minor offense, some may lead to more serious charges. If an arrest is made, police and prosecutors will need to follow certain procedures to ensure that an individual’s rights are being protected.
A recent New Jersey Supreme Court case addressed an issue that arose out of a drunk-driving arrest. In this case, the individual got into an accident that injured a police officer. The motorist had a blood-alcohol content above the 0.08 limit, and was arrested for DWI, as well as several other crimes.
The individual eventually pleaded guilty to one of the charges, a fourth-degree assault by auto, and was sentenced to one year of probation, plus fines. The DWI charge was still outstanding, and remained so for over 16 months before the defendant was notified about the upcoming trial.
The defendant immediately filed to have the DWI charge dismissed, contended that the court had waited too long to pursue these charges. The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and ruled that the long delay had violated his rights to a speedy trial. The drunk-driving charges were dismissed.
This case provides motorists a reminder of the rights that they have when accused of a DWI. Police patrolling for motorists under the influence must observe some type of infraction before making a traffic stop. Additionally, the officer must also have a reason to begin a DWI investigation after a traffic stop has been made.
Police may request that the motorist undergo field sobriety tests to try to determine if the driver is impaired. These tests are often videotaped, and prosecutors will use this evidence at trial to help obtain a conviction. Many drivers may not know that these tests are optional; however, a refusal to take field sobriety tests may lead officers to make an arrest. Those motorists arrested for DWI will be required to subject to a blood or breath test. New Jersey law makes these tests mandatory, and refusal can result in serious penalties and a suspension of the individual’s driving privileges.
Do not talk to police or prosecutors about your case. They are only trying to gather information that they may use against you later. You need to take drunk-driving charges seriously. You may be confused about the options that you have, but you need to present a strong defense to these accusations. Protect your rights by speaking to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case.
An attorney will explain the charges that you are facing, and also help you to understand the choices that you have to make at this time. Pleading guilty to these charges could subject you to consequences that will last long after the case has been completed.