In New Jersey, being arrested on suspicion of drunk driving can have severe consequences – and you can face some of these consequences even if you are not ultimately convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI). New Jersey has some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the nation, and, from losing your license for an “implied consent” violation to facing a potential mandatory prison sentence as a repeat offender, a DWI arrest in Hackensack can easily have far-reaching consequences that negatively impact all aspects of your daily life.
Attorney Scott A. Gorman brings more than a decade of legal experience to representing clients in New Jersey DUI trials and appeals. If you are facing a DWI charge, Scott can use his experience to protect your rights and minimize the consequences of your arrest. From challenging the validity of your breath test results to asserting violations of your fundamental Constitutional rights, there are numerous ways to defend against a DWI charge even if you think you were driving drunk, and it is critical that you not make any assumptions about the outcome of your case until you speak with an experienced Hackensack DWI defense attorney about the defenses you may have available.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): New Jersey DWI
Q: Drunk driving in New Jersey: DWI or DUI?
Some states’ laws establish different offenses for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI). Some states’ laws use only one term or another. But, in Hackensack and throughout the state of New Jersey, DWI and DUI can be used interchangeably. We have just one drunk driving statute, and it incorporates the concepts of both DWI and DUI:
“[A] person who operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration [BAC] of 0.08% or more . . . shall be subject [to the penalties outlined below].”
Thanks to this statutory language, in New Jersey, prosecutors have two ways to obtain a conviction for drunk driving. They can prove that a person was operating a vehicle “under the influence” of drugs or alcohol (this is what other states usually refer to as DUI), or they can rely on breath or blood test results showing a BAC of 0.08 percent or above (commonly defined as a DWI offense).
Q: What are my rights after a DWI arrest in Hackensack?
When you get arrested and charged with DWI, you have numerous legal rights. But, for right now, the two most important rights you need to know about are: (i) your right to remain silent, and (ii) your right to legal representation.
Once you are arrested, you have the constitutional right not to say anything that could be used against you at trial. How do you know what is okay to say and what isn’t? The best way to protect yourself is to not say anything at all. You will likely be asked a lot of questions. Politely decline to answer beyond providing background information such as your name, state that you are exercising your right to legal representation, and ask to speak with your DWI attorney.
Q: What are the police required to tell you about New Jersey’s “implied consent” law?
When the police ask you to submit to a breath test, they must inform you of two rights: (i) your right to receive a copy of your test results upon request, and (ii) your right to also be tested by an independent physician. The police must also inform you of the penalties for Refusal. If you were not adequately advised with regard to your breath test, this could potentially provide a defense to your DWI and your DWI refusal.
Q: Am I required to take a field sobriety test if the arresting officer asks?
No. New Jersey’s implied consent law applies only to breath tests. When you get pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, you are not required to submit to any field sobriety tests (FSTs). If you unknowingly consented to any FSTs, attorney Scott Gorman can scrutinize the arresting officer’s testing procedures and his or her interpretation of your performance in addition to exploring all other potential defenses.
Q: How will the State try to prove intoxication?
In most cases, the prosecution will try to prove that the defendant was intoxicated by relying on evidence relating to the defendant’s blood or breath samples that were collected shortly after the defendant’s arrest. Essentially, this becomes a fight over whether the prosecution can prove the reliability of a piece of paper. The prosecution will argue that this piece of paper shows that the motorist’s blood alcohol concentration was elevated. However, a skilled Hackensack DWI Attorney will sift through the prosecution’s evidence to find weakness in the State’s case. For example, to rely on the key piece of paper, the prosecution must be able to demonstrate that the device used to analyze samples of the Defendant’s blood or breath samples was in proper working order at the time that the device was utilized. Moreover, the prosecution will need to establish that the proper protocol was followed when collecting the blood or breath samples.
The prosecution will also frequently rely on what police officers like to refer to as standardized field sobriety tests. In the typical case, two of the “tests” on which the State will rely are not “tests” at all and the third “test” has never been shown to be reliable in New Jersey. A knowledgeable DWI defense attorney will develop a strategy to attack the State’s evidence and to bring out evidence of sobriety that a court might not otherwise consider.
Q: What are the ignition interlock device requirements for drunk drivers in New Jersey?
Most drunk driving convictions result in a requirement that the motorist pay for an ignition interlock device to be installed in at least one vehicle and that the device remain installed for a period of time that would be determined by the court. The length of time that you would need to have an ignition interlock device installed would depend on the number of prior DWI convictions you have had, if any, and your blood alcohol concentration at the time that you were driving on the date of your arrest.
An experienced Hackensack DWI defense attorney will be able to review your case to determine what defenses to raise to reduce the amount of time that you would be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. In some cases, your lawyer may be able to raise challenges to the State’s evidence that could result in avoiding the requirement of an ignition interlock device all together.
Q: How do I select a Hackensack DWI defense attorney?
In Hackensack and throughout the rest of New Jersey, there is no shortage of lawyers who will offer to represent you in your DWI case. You may even know someone who is an attorney or, you may have a friend or family member who previously hired a lawyer for a legal issue in their life, and they may be offering you a referral.
So how do you choose the attorney you want to represent you in court? How do you decide who you can trust when your savings, your freedom and – in many respects – your future are all on the line? Should you hire the first lawyer who offers to help? Or, should you put in the effort to find an experienced Hackensack DUI lawyer?
Hopefully, the answer is clear. Drunk driving cases are complicated, especially in New Jersey. New Jersey’s DWI laws and court procedures are unique, the penalties are severe, and a typical case can involve issues ranging from the impact of certain medical conditions on driving ability to violations of the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights. In order to have a clear understanding of the numerous issues at play and to be able to digest this information into a comprehensive and cohesive defense strategy, you need to handle DWI cases on a daily basis. If an attorney is spending time writing wills or handling divorces, he or she may not have the same nuanced and experienced approach as another attorney who devotes his or her entire practice to criminal matters with particular emphasis on DWI defense.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Hackensack DWI Defense Attorney Scott Gorman
If you have been arrested for a DWI in New Jersey, we encourage you to contact us for a free and confidential consultation. To speak with Hackensack DWI defense attorney Scott Gorman about your defense, call (201) 489-9199 or submit your case online now. We also have a Morristown location.