Fighting a New Jersey Drunk Driving Charge
Being charged with DWI is not the same thing as being convicted. You can fight the charges and win with the help of an experienced attorney.
Here are just a few ways that your lawyer can defend your DWI case:
Bad Weather Conditions – If the cop is using driving behavior or balance issues as evidence against you, you may be able to show that these problems were the result of poor weather, such as slippery roads or visibility issues, rather than intoxication.
Illegal Stop – If the police officer who stopped your car didn’t have legal justification to do so, then any evidence gathered may not be admissible in court. If they don’t have proof, it’s likely they can’t get a conviction.
Subjective Field Sobriety Tests – It’s likely you’re familiar with the 3 common field sobriety tests: balancing on one leg, walking in a straight line and turning, and the eye test, or horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). The “results” from these tests are very subjective. In fact, studies sponsored by the government have found that the accuracy isn’t all that great, even when administered properly:
- Walk-and-turn is only 68% accurate.
- One-leg stand is only 65% accurate.
And often the tests are not administered properly, making them even less accurate. Issues such as weight, age, and physical limitations can lead an officer to draw incorrect conclusions about someone’s sobriety. In fact, courts in New Jersey have ruled that they cannot be used against someone in court.
Other tests that you may have heard of, such as reciting the alphabet, putting your finger to your nose, or the sway tests, have not been proven to be valid for determining someone’s level of intoxication for similar reasons.
Withholding Evidence – The defense is entitled to receive all the evidence that the prosecution has in its possession. If it hasn’t been provided, your lawyer can file a motion to compel discovery to force the prosecution to comply. If they still fail to do so, then the case against you can be dismissed.
Conflicting Video Evidence – Does the story on the police report appear different than your memory of the investigation? There may be video recordings of the investigation when you were pulled over or at the police station itself. These records can be used to show that police reports were inaccurate or incomplete and can provide evidence that you were indeed fit to drive.
Failure to Inform – If you’re arrested for suspicion of DUI or DWI, then you are obligated in New Jersey to provide breath samples under the laws of implied consent. Failure to comply will result in penalties, which include the suspension of your driver’s license and fines. But it’s also the police officer’s responsibility to read you the proper implied consent warnings – in their entirety – so that you understand the consequences. If the police officer failed to do so, then the refusal charge may be dismissed entirely.
Lack of Training for Breath Test Operator – Operating a breath testing device requires proper training, which is why the person who performed the test on you must be certified. If he or she does not have a valid certification or perform the test properly, then the results cannot be used against you in court.
Results Tainted by Mouth Alcohol – If you still have alcohol in your mouth from drinking or using something like mouth wash, it can result in a much higher blood alcohol content reading than is accurate. Law enforcement is required to observe you for 20 minutes before taking breath samples to ensure that mouth alcohol/interferents aren’t a factor. If they didn’t do it, the results are often not admissible.
Improper Inspection of Breath Testing Machine – In order to function properly, breath testing machines need to be inspected regularly. If the prosecution cannot show documents proving that it was working correctly, the results of the test may be thrown out.
False Breath Test Results – Many things can cause you to have incorrect results from a breath test, such as using breath sprays, or certain medical conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and diabetes. A good lawyer will explore all the options to ensure that the results were correct.
Improper Collection of Blood and Urine – There are specific procedures that must be followed to prevent contamination of samples. The prosecution needs to be able to prove custody of samples through the entire process – from collection to testing. If the protocol is not followed precisely, then the results can be questioned.
Unreliable Drug Detection Methods – Not all ways to look for drugs are considered scientifically reliable. A lawyer can investigate to see if the methods used were proper and then challenge them in court.
“Sleep Driving” – Certain sleeping pills have been shown to disrupt sleep cycles and cause people to drive a vehicle without being aware of their actions. If this is the case for you, you can use the information to fight the charges of a DUI in New Jersey.