How Can DWI Charges Be Defended in New Jersey?
How often are you able to get charges or sentences reduced in DWI cases?
As often as I can. I am always looking to find an aspect of the case — whether it’s a failure of the prosecutor to provide discovery, or whether there is a constitutional or scientific issue that benefits the defendant — that I can use to my client’s benefit. Sometimes, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, but I’ll look hard for it.
How often do you have to employ or bring in any sort of specialists related to the science of these cases? Some of them can get pretty technical.
I believe it is a good idea to use an expert if the police reports and the evidence don’t immediately show a viable defense. In those cases, it would be necessary for an expert to come in and give a specialized opinion on certain aspects of the case, such as whether the gas chromatograph used to test the blood or urine was calibrated or operated properly, or whether the digital memory of the Alcotest machine reveals any defects in the machine that would cause the readings to be unreliable. It’s a good idea if the evidence at the very beginning doesn’t show a constitutional flaw or a flaw in the proof.
Do most of these cases end up being handled out of court with a plea agreement or something to that effect, or do you often take cases to trial?
There is a strict prohibition against plea bargaining drunk driving cases in New Jersey. It is not permitted; it is not allowed. There is a guideline from the New Jersey attorney general’s office that does not allow it. As a defense attorney, therefore, it is my job to find a defect or a flaw in the case, either in the evidence or in the procedure, to help my clients. Most of them are resolved before going to trial, though, and there are statistics that show that most cases are able to be resolved.
Are there any alternative punishments like diversion programs for first-time DWI offenders?
New Jersey has no alternative programs for any DWI or refusal charges. Other states do, but New Jersey does not, unfortunately.
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