Defending a DUI charge is a serious matter, particularly in New Jersey where a license suspension due to a conviction could leave a person unable to drive for months. With so much at stake with this type of charge, it may be critical to have a capable and experienced lawyer working on your behalf. Attorney Leon Matchin is dedicated to helping people charged with traffic violations such as DUI. He works tirelessly for individuals in New Brunswick and the surrounding communities who are facing prosecution.Mounting a Defense to DUI/ DWI Under New Jersey Law
In New Jersey, a driver can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), also known as driving under the influence or DUI, if the driver is driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. A driver may also be arrested and charged with DWI if the arresting officer believes that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, even if the officer has not taken a reading of the driver’s blood alcohol content.
When a driver’s blood alcohol concentration is .08% or higher, he or she can be charged with what is called DWI Per Se. With this particular offense, people can be facing prosecution simply because their blood alcohol concentration was over the legal limit. It is not necessary for drivers to actually feel or seem impaired to be charged with DWI Per Se. To support a charge for this type of DUI, officers must take a reading of a driver’s blood alcohol level. This is usually measured by taking a breath sample with a machine called the Alcotest. If drivers refuse to have their BAC taken via a breath test, often referred to as refusing implied consent, they can automatically be charged with refusal and DWI.
Drivers can also be charged with DWI without a blood alcohol concentration reading. This type of DUI charge is based on an officer’s observations, training, and prior experience with impaired drivers. Officers look for common clues that usually indicate intoxication, including glassy or bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, the odor of alcohol, and stumbling or staggering.
Officers may also use standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) if the driver does not allow the officer to perform a reading of his or her blood alcohol content. Field sobriety tests are used to observe the level of coordination of a driver when performing certain actions, such as walking in a straight line, following an officer’s stimulus with the eyes, and standing on one leg. SFSTs are typically performed at the side of the road before the driver is arrested. They may be used to create probable cause for a DUI arrest and prove DUI in court if the Alcotest reading is later thrown out. However, the consequences of a DUI based on an SFST tend to be much lower than a DUI based on an Alcotest result.
There may be many possible defenses to a charge of DWI, depending on the specific situation. Officers are often required to administer field sobriety tests to determine whether a DWI charge is appropriate. They may administer these tests incorrectly and improperly suspect a driver of driving under the influence. Additionally, if there are other plausible explanations for the clues that an officer observes, the state may not be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. For instance, the officer may observe bloodshot eyes and believe this is an indicator of intoxication, but they may merely be a result of allergies, medication, or fatigue.
There are viable defenses to a per se DWI charge as well. For instance, if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was measured at .08% or higher, but it can be shown that the machine or device reading the BAC was not functioning properly, the reading given by that particular machine may not be used by the state in bringing the charge.Fight a Traffic Violation with Guidance from a New Brunswick Attorney
There may be defenses that a skilled attorney would recognize that may not initially be apparent to a defendant in the New Brunswick area who has been charged with DUI or a related offense. If you need a lawyer to help you protect your rights, you can consult Leon Matchin. He also provides tenacious legal advocacy for criminal defendants in East Brunswick and many other communities throughout Monmouth, Middlesex, and Mercer Counties. Call us today at (732) 662-7658, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.