The first aspect of a drunk driving (DWI) case that must be examined is the probable cause for the initial traffic stop. This can range from speeding, to failure to maintain lane, to a motor vehicle accident, to a DWI checkpoint. According to New Jersey law, the police officer must have an articulable and reasonable suspicion that a violation of the traffic laws has occurred in order to effectuate a stop for DWI. This is known as the “probable cause” for the initial traffic stop.
For example, if you are pulled over for speeding and the officer writes you a ticket for 72 mph in a 55 mph zone, the speeding violation is the probable cause for the initial stop. The State must provide the defense with all documentation relating to the radar detector used or, if the car was paced, the 5th wheel calibration certificate with regard to the police officer’s vehicle. If the State fails to provide this evidence, they may not be able to prove the initial speeding allegation and the entire DWI prosecution is in jeopardy. Remember, if the probable cause for the initial traffic stop was not sound, a seasoned defense attorney will file a Motion to Suppress. If this motion is successful, the entire case is thrown out and dismissed.
Drunk driving (DWI) checkpoints in New Jersey are constitutional if certain requirements are met. These sobriety checkpoints are allowed for public policy reasons if certain procedures are followed. According to State v. Moskal, 246 N.J. Super 12 (1991), a DWI checkpoint is valid if the location of the checkpoint is appropriate based on historical arrest rates at the location, public safety and awareness would be fostered by the checkpoint, there is participation in command and supervision, and notice of the checkpoint is published to provide motorists with notice.
Now, these requirements are not always followed. I recently had a DWI case dismissed in Holmdel Municipal Court based on an invalid DWI checkpoint. As you can see, a seasoned DWI defense attorney has many avenues to combat a drunk driving prosecution.
My drunk driving defense trial team is composed of former municipal and DWI prosecutors in over 25 New Jersey municipalities with over 100 years of collective legal experience representing clients throughout New Jersey. Many of our drunk driving defense lawyers are certified in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (“SFST”), the tests police use to make an arrest in a drunk driving (DWI) case. In fact, three (3) of our attorneys are certified instructors in SFST. Further, our DWI trial team members are also certified by Draeger Industries in the operation and maintenance of the Alcotest 7110, the breath test device used by police to measure blood alcohol content (“BAC”). These credentials combined with our experience lead to a fierce criminal defense trial team designed to combat drunk driving charges in New Jersey. With offices in Morristown and Parsippany, our firm is conveniently located to handle cases throughout Morris County.