How to Beat a DUI Charge in New Jersey
The penalties for DUI in New Jersey are severe and can have a serious impact
on a person's personal, professional and family life. Due to the serious
nature of a DWI charge and the intricacies involved in the administration
of a breathalyzer, the New Jersey legislature and courts have enacted
strict laws and procedures which must be followed during the course of
any DUI arrest. When an officer fails to adhere to these laws and procedures,
the New Jersey DUI Attorneys at Schiller & Pittenger will set in motion
the proper motions and trial tactics in order to have a DUI charge dismissed.
In addition to these "errors" by police, there are also several
ways in which an attorney with trial experience and effective cross-examination
techniques can employ to help you avoid a DUI and/or Refusal conviction.
This article will address some of the many ways the attorneys at Schiller
& Pittenger have successfully fought DUI charges.
Probable Cause for the Motor Vehicle Stop
The first piece of the puzzle that must fall into place for any DUI charge
to hold weight is that there must be probable cause for the motor vehicle
stop. Probable cause can consist of a variety of situations. It essentially
means that the police must have some legitimate and legal reason to pull
you over. Instances that qualify as sufficient probable cause include
motor vehicle violations and/or if an officer observes you operating your
vehicle in a manner which gives him "reasonable suspicion" that
you are under the influence of alcohol or intoxicating drugs. If the police
reports show that an officer did not have probable cause to initiate the
motor vehicle stop in your case, that in itself is grounds to avoid a
Roadside Field Sobriety Tests in NJ
After a proper motor vehicle stop has taken place, and a police officer
makes observations that he believes to be consistent with an individual
being "under the influence," he or she will most likely ask
that person to perform a series of roadside field sobriety tests (FSTs).
There are three standardized tests that an officer can choose to administer,
including (i) the one leg stand test; (ii) the horizontal gaze nystagmus
test; and (iii) the walk and turn test. There are also a series of non-standardized
tests that an officer may use including: (i) counting backwards, (ii)
reciting portions of the alphabet, and (iii) the finger to nose test.
In some municipalities, a police officer's vehicle is equipped with
a motor vehicle recording system (MVR) which records audio and video.
In towns with MVRs, officers are instructed to have an individual suspected
of DUI to perform the FSTs in front of the video camera. Our attorneys
have challenged the administration of the roadside tests, the instructions
given, and the suspected person's performance in the FSTs through
effective and aggressive cross-examination at trial. New Jersey case law
sets forth certain requirements for these tests and the way they are administered.
If we determine that there was an error or that you passed these tests,
we will tailor the necessary defense.
Alcotest Reliability & Procedures
Generally speaking, when relying on a breath test to get a conviction for
drunk driving, the prosecution must prove that the Alcotest was in good
working order and that the operator of the device was appropriately qualified
to administer the test. This requires that any tests results must be supported
by specific foundational documents in order for the test results to be
admissible. As per Romano v. Kimmleman, 96 NJ 66 (1984) the State is required
to establish that (1) the device was in working order, (2) the device
had been inspected according to procedure, (3) the operator was certified,
and (4) the test was administered according to official procedure. If
and when we determine that the State does not possess the necessary evidence
to sustain a DUI conviction under this standard, our attorney will prepare
for trial in order have the DUI charge dismissed.
The 20 Minute Observation Period
Due to the flaws associated with the Alcotest, the New Jersey courts have
enacted law that requires police officers involved in the arrest or administration
of the breath test to observe an individual for twenty minutes at the
police station prior to administering the Alcotest. If the police reports
do not indicate a 20 minute observation period took place, we can take
the rights steps to beat the DUI charge. There are several nuisances associated
with this law so a careful analysis of the facts of a specific case must
be undertaken to determine whether this defense will be successful.
Experienced New Jersey DUI Lawyers
These are only a few of the ways in which our attorneys can and have successfully
challenged and beaten DUI charges for our clients. We determine DUI defenses
on a case by case basis. To learn about more defenses and ways to beat
a DUI charge, contact us today.