What To Know About DUI/DWI

One of the most common traffic offenses is driving under the influence (DUI), also known as driving while under the influence. DUI is against the law in every state. And it is also a serious offense in New Jersey, as it endangers not only you but also others on the road. Here is information about DUI, as well as steps to take in the event you are stopped by the police for allegedly driving while under the influence.

When You Can Be Stopped

Police can stop your vehicle if they have probable cause to believe you are driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. If you are swerving a lot, ignoring stop signs or traffic lights, altering speeds frequently or driving erratically, there is likely probable cause that you are driving impaired. If after the police stop you they have reason to believe you are driving under the influence – such as if they smell alcohol on your breath or you have slurred speech – the next step will likely be asking you to take field sobriety tests.

A field sobriety test is used to determine if there is probable cause to make an arrest. There are different types of field sobriety tests police may administer, including:

• ab eye test in which the officer observes how smoothly your eyes follow a slow moving object like a pen or flashlight;

• asking you to stand on one leg and/or to walk a straight line, so the officer can see how well you can perform simple physical movements;

• asking you to count aloud or recite the alphabet; or

• a finger dexterity test, such as touching your nose with a finger.

If you fail the field sobriety test, the officer will likely arrest you and take you to a detention center and ask you to take a test.

A blood alcohol content (BAC) measures the level of alcohol in your blood. The test can be performed by obtaining a blood sample, or it most often is done by applying a formula to the amount of alcohol in your breath or urine. If the test reveals a BAC over the state limit (.08 in most state, including New Jersey), then you are presumed to be driving under the influence.

There can be significant consequences if you refuse to take a BAC. All sates have implied consent laws, which basically state that as a condition to holding a driver’s license, you implicitly agree to take a blood alcohol content if you are suspected of drunk driving. If you refuse a BAC test, you can be subject in almost every state, including New Jersey to various administrative penalties, including fines and having your driving license suspended. It is also a separate offense from the DUI, and you can receive a completely separate sentence.

Even if your blood alcohol content is below the state legal limit, it is still possible to be convicted of driving under the influence. This is because laws in most state prohibit driving “impaired,” and it is possible for people to be impaired by alcohol or drugs (including prescription drugs) and drive dangerously even though their blood alcohol content is below the legal limit.

Penalties

The penalties for DUI in New Jersey are very harsh for a person’s first DUI, he or she will have a suspended license and pay fines. In other states, there may be jail time in addition to license suspension and fines even for a first offense. For second and later offenses, the penalties get more severe and usually include jail time. If the DUI involved bodily injury, then in most states the penalties are even more severe.

Defenses

Many people who are charged with DUI choose to fight it. It is vital to have a lawyer on your side when fighting a DUI charge, as lawyer know many of the defenses to these charges. There are various defenses a lawyer may be able to make for you, including:

• Defenses for why you were originally stopped. When the police stopped you and claimed you appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, a lawyer may be able to convince a prosecutor of court that non-alcohol related things made it look like you were intoxicated such as lack of sleep, stress or physical impairment. If the original stop was not proper, then evidence obtained from it may not be admissible.

• Field sobriety tests. If you performed poorly on the field sobriety tests, a lawyer may be able to show that reasons unrelated to alcohol caused the poor performance. Things like lack of sleep, medications you were taking or physical injuries may have caused the poor performance on the sobriety tests.

• Blood alcohol content test. (Alcohol test Machine): Even if the blood content test shows you were over the state legal limit, a lawyer may be able to successfully challenge the validity of the test results. For of your test or the equipment was not properly maintained, and this caused a faulty reading. A lawyer may also be able to show that certain foods, medications, or other non-alcohol related substances factored into the test.

These are just some of the possible defenses when fighting a DUI charge. There can be others depending on the particular facts of the case. Because raising successful defenses to a DUI charge requires a significant amount of skill, knowledge and expertise, it is essential to have a lawyer’s help when fighting a DUI charge.

Being stopped and arrested for a DUI is an unpleasant and scary time. But if you are arrested, invoke your legal right to remain silent and to have an attorney defend you. Our law firm has significant skill and experience handling DUI cases, and we may be able to successfully get the charges against you dropped or get the penalties reduced. Call us as soon as possible after the arrest, as the sooner we are on your side protecting you, the greater the chance of minimizing the disruption to your life.

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