How to Fight a DWI Charge
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol-related auto accidents claim over 10,000 lives and cost the country over $52 billion a year. This can explain why New Jersey has very strict DWI laws and penalties and why getting charged with a DWI can be scary. Don’t lose hope, however, if you’ve been charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This article highlights how to fight a DWI charge in the state.
Have you been charged with a DWI in New Jersey? Contact The Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC to discuss your rights and legal options with an expertNew Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer.
As in most states, an officer in New Jersey must have probable cause to pull you over on the road. They must be able to prove that you committed a traffic offense and that the violation was their reason for pulling you over. The officer cannot just claim, for example, that they saw you walk out of a bar and enter your vehicle as this will never stand up in court. The prosecutor must prove that you were actually under the influence.
When preparing your defense, your defense attorney will look into whether the arresting officer had probable cause by arguing whether the alleged traffic violation was, in fact, a violation. If the prosecutor officer fails to prove that the officer had a proper reason to pull you over, the case will be thrown out.
The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
If the officer had probable cause to pull you over, your attorney might then argue the reliability and validity of the standardized field sobriety tests you took. The infamous one-leg-stand and walk-and-turn tests have been shown to have an accuracy rate of only 68 percent, and are influenced by things such as age, weight, prior or existing injuries, and weather and lighting conditions in the area where you performed the sobriety tests. Your attorney can use these issues to your advantage. Your attorney can also argue that any non-standardized tests used during the stop be excluded from the case. These may include:
- Counting backward
- Reciting the alphabet
- Finger count test
- Finger to nose test
The Alcotest Test (formerly known as the Breathalyzer Test)
New Jersey no longer uses a Breathalyzer. It uses an Alcotest, the Alcotest 3110MKIII-C model to be exact. Breath tests in New Jersey must follow a strict protocol to be considered valid by a court. If the officer who pulled you over failed to follow protocol when having you blow into the Alcotest machine to get your blood-alcohol concentration (commonly referred to as “BAC”), or if the Alcotest machine isn’t in proper working order, your DUI charge might be dismissed. Your attorney will investigate whether any protocol or rules were broken, and if so, get the BAC results excluded from your case.
Your attorney will explore all areas of your case to determine the best strategy for your defense. Besides the defenses mentioned above, your DUI lawyer will investigate the following factor as possible reasons for dismissing your DUI charges:
- Medical and health problems
- The credibility of the testifying officer(s)
- Eyewitness accounts or videos of the arrest
- The officer’s failure to observe protocol
- Calibration errors in testing equipment
- Bad weather
Consult a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing a DWI, you should rest easy in the fact that a charge does not automatically result in a sentence. A knowledgeable New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer who understands how to fight a DWI charge can help put forth compelling arguments in your defense.
Matthew V. Portella has been defending the rights of individuals charged with DWIs and criminal offenses in New Jersey for over 25 years. When he takes on your case, his main focus is to minimize or eliminate the consequences of your arrest or prosecution while calming your fears about the legal process. If you have been charged with a DWI, contact his office at 856-245-5904 to discuss your case.