Essex County DWI Lawyer Providing Strong Advocacy for Residents Charged with DUI
Anyone who drives on an Essex County road can be pulled over and tested for drunk driving if the police officer has reasonable cause to pull them over and proper grounds to conduct a test. If convicted of a DWI, a driver can lose his/her license, be required to spend 30 days or more in jail, have to pay large fines, and will probably be required to use an interlock ignition device when they are allowed to drive again. Subsequent convictions can have extremely harsh consequences.
Protecting the rights of drivers charged with DWI/DUI
The Essex County criminal lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C., have been helping drivers contest Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges since 1955. Our lawyers have received top-tier ratings from the National Trial Lawyers Association, SuperLawyers, Martindale Hubbell, and other prestigious legal rating agencies. We prepare each case for trial and only recommend plea bargains when it is in the best interest of the client. In drunk driving cases, we challenge each element of evidence, argue legal and Constitutional rights violations, and assert factual defenses to the charges.
In New Jersey, police generally must have a reasonable suspicion that a driver was operating a vehicle while intoxicated or that some other traffic offense—such as speeding—had taken place, or that the car itself was in violation, such as having lights that did not work. If the police have this reasonable suspicion, they can temporarily investigate whether the driver had broken the law by questioning the driver and subjecting him/her to appropriate tests.
There is an exception to the reasonable suspicion requirement. New Jersey police are allowed to set up DUI checkpoints without violating the U.S. Constitution’s 4th Amendment on unreasonable searches and seizures.
Checkpoints are also known as roadblocks, mobile checkpoints, and sobriety checkpoints. Checkpoints are legal in New Jersey if they are properly set up. Normally, checkpoints are used during times when drinking is likely to be heavier than usual, such as around major holidays. Checkpoints are typically set up in locations where there is a lot of traffic, late in the evening, and in areas where DWI offenses are known to be high. States, including New Jersey, are supposed to publicize the checkpoints. Usually, the police will stop cars randomly, such as every fifth car.
Police officers will ask to see your license, registration, and insurance. They will ask a few questions to determine whether they think you might be intoxicated.
Field sobriety tests
If an officer has legally stopped a vehicle (we challenge all illegal stops), the officer can ask the driver to submit to a field sobriety test. Officers will usually first look at the driver and ask a few questions to see if his/her speech is slurred, if there is an odor of alcohol, or the eyes are bloodshot. If the officer still suspects the driver was intoxicated, he/she will give the driver field sobriety tests, which are physical dexterity tests.
Sample tests including asking the driver to:
- Stand on one leg
- Walk and turn
- Touch his/her nose with the eyes closed
Some legitimate challenges to these tests include asserting that the defendant suffered from injuries or medical conditions that negated the ability to pass the test, poor weather conditions, and heightened anxiety levels due to psychological problems.
Defendants who fail the field sobriety tests, or who refuse to take the test, will usually be asked to submit to a breath test after a 20-minute waiting period. The breath test measures the drivers Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). If the BAC level is .08 or more, the driver will be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). If the driver refuses to take the breath test, the refusal can be used as evidence in court, and the driver will also face a mandatory license suspension and fines.
Our Essex County DUI attorneys understand the defenses that apply. Refusing to take a field sobriety test is different than failing to submit to a breath test. Officers must inform the accused of the consequences for failing to take any test. If the driver passed the sobriety test, then the officer normally would not have the probable cause needed to conduct a breath test.
- Link to NJ’s DWI penalty PDF
Get help by calling an Essex County drunk driving defense lawyer today
Defendants have rights. Even if the officer did have grounds for taking the test, we may be able to argue that the test was performed with non-certified equipment or that it was administered improperly. To understand your rights and to speak to a tough trial advocate at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C., please phone us at (908) 561-5577 or use our contact form.