Sea Girt New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney
If you, someone you know, or your child have been charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating substance, then you probably have a lot of questions and concerns about what is going to happen. It is important for anyone who is facing a driving while under the influence charge in New Jersey to understand that this is a very serious charge. A driving while under the influence conviction can cause you to lose your license, to pay massive fines, and even spend time in jail.
DWI Arrests and Procedures in New Jersey
Getting pulled over is always an anxiety-inducing event. However, whenever a police officer believes that you may have been driving under the influence there are certain procedures and protocols that a police officer must follow in order for you to be convicted of driving while under the influence.
To begin, a police officer needs to have some reason to pull over your car, at least reasonable suspicion. According to the United State Supreme Court in the case of Terry v. Ohio, a police officer can stop and briefly detain a person for investigative purposes if the officer had a reasonable suspicion supported by articulable facts that criminal activity is afoot, even if the officer lacks probable cause. However, a police officer can gain probable cause for a variety of reasons, and for any traffic offense such as:
- Crossing the center line
- Erratic driving
- Failing to use a turn signal
- Failing to come to a complete stop
However, if a police officer does not have probable cause to pull your car over then this could be a reason why a driving while under the influence charge would be dismissed. Once your car is pulled over the police may then subsequently claim that they developed reasonable suspicion that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or some other intoxicating substance. They may base this on their statements that you were slurring your words, that you smelled of alcohol, or that you had glassy eyes.
Even after the police suspect that you had been driving under the influence, the police must still follow strict protocol in order for a person to be convicted of driving under the influence. An officer may request that you submit to a breathalyzer test. If the police officer finds that you are in violation of the New Jersey Driving under the influence statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 then they can bring you to the police station under arrest.
However, even at the police station, you have protections under the law.
What are the Defenses to DWI?
If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence you probably have many questions and concerns. Additionally, you may feel that your rights were violated with the police officer pulled you over.
Some of the most applicable defenses include:
- The police officer lacked probable cause to stop your vehicle – In order for a police officer to make a constitutional stop and inspection of your vehicle, they need to have at least probable cause to do so. If the police officer cannot articulate facts that would lead them to believe that criminal activity was afoot, then the stop may be deemed in violation of the constitution of both New Jersey and the United States.
- The police officer lacks reasonable suspicion to detain you for sobriety testing – similar to pulling your car over, the police officer needs at least reasonable suspicion to believe that you have violated a law, in this case, the new jersey law on driving while under the influence in order to detain you. In the event that they do not have reasonable suspicion, then this detainment may be deemed improper and therefore require that the judge drops the charges.
- The breathalyzer machine was not properly working – to ensure that there is consistency within the DWI process, a breathalyzer machine must be continually tested and logged that it is in proper working order. However, even machines which have been tested can fail to perform the way that they are supposed to which can result in the case being dismissed.
- The police officer failed to comply with the “20-minute” observation rule – when the police bring you into the station on the belief that you had been driving while under the influence, and then they are required to observe you uninterrupted for 20 minutes.
- The police violated the discovery or evidence rules – there are numerous state and federal constitutional protections that the police must abide by when they conduct a search, and if the fail to do abide by these rules of law, then the evidence that the collect can be excluded from evidence, which means that if the police and or the state cannot prove any element of the case then the case will be dropped and you will not be convicted of driving while under the influence.
When you take into account the extreme penalties that a judge can impose if you are convicted of driving while under the influence these defenses and others are very important to understand.
Let an Atlantic City Criminal Lawyer Fight for You
If you or someone you love was arrested for DWI in New Jersey, you should strongly consider seeking legal assistance from a criminal defense attorney. In addition to handling legal paperwork, protecting your Constitutional rights, and helping you navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system, your defense lawyer will fight aggressively to have the charges against you dismissed or obtain an acquittal (verdict of not guilty).
The sooner you reach out to the Law Offices of John J. Zarych for legal help, the sooner we can start analyzing your case and formulating a defense strategy. Don’t wait to get trusted, respected legal representation in New Jersey: call our law offices at (609) 616-4956 today. Our line is always open, including nights, weekends, and holidays.