Let’s start with a first offense New Jersey DWI charge. First question is what is the reading from the Alcotest machine (or blood) or did you refuse to provide a breath sample. Refusing to provide a breath sample is a separate offense and if you did, this blog addresses cases where the State intends to rely on an Alcotest reading. Please see my refusal information sections for more information on that offense.
Please take note, just because you blew over the legal limit does not mean you are guilty of DWI. This is because the Alcotest is a machine, and the State must prove that this machine was in proper working order and the test administered correctly for the readings to be admissible. This is not always easy for the State to do. In fact, in my experience, I have been able to consistently and successfully challenge the admissibility of the Alcotest. But I have specific and detailed training in the administration of the test, the mechanics of the machine, and the required documentation to be provided as a condition of admissibility of the readings.
First offense DWI is a subject to a tiered penalty structure. A CONVICTION based upon an admissible Alcotest of .10 or below OR a CONVICTION based upon the observations (i.e. the field sobriety test) will result in a three-month loss of license. A CONVICTION based upon readings of .10 or above is a mandatory 7 month loss of license. If the readings are not admissible, then you can still be convicted of DWI if the State can prove its observation case based upon the Field Sobriety Test.
Challenging the Field Sobriety Tests without the readings in evidence is where you want to be as a DWI lawyer. These tests are performed by the officer and his testimony ( and in some cases a video tape) will be the only proofs the State can rely upon. These tests are scientifically validated and must be administered in the prescribed manner using a very specific scoring criteria. My training in this area is a huge asset to my clients during cross-examination.
Of course, in addition to the DWI ticket, you were likely given tickets for reckless or careless driving, failure to maintain lane, speeding, etc. But these tickets are often issued as a matter of procedure, it does not mean that you are guilty of all of them. The police need a reason to pull you over. It could be speeding, failure to stop, unsafe land change, etc. None of this means that you were driving recklessly or carelessly (although its possible) Just because your are suspected of driving under the influence does not mean that you were driving recklessly. The point is this. Although all those tickets add up to lots of point, the chance that you would be convicted of all of them is unlikely. Is it possible, sure, but that is a fact sensitive determination.
The bottom line is the inadmissibility of the Alcotest readings is the gateway to a a possible trial win. Knowing how to effectively challenge the admissibility of the readings is extraordinarily important. KNowing how to cross-examine the police officer on the Field Sobriety Tests is as important. But you need to give yourself a chance to win theses cases. I can give you that chance.
I can be reached by phone or email for further questions.