New Jersey DUI Attorney Discusses the Field Sobriety Vision Test, Also Known as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus TestIf you are pulled over and arrested for DWI in New Jersey, the police have a few options for proving that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Two of the things that police officers may do is (1) conduct a field sobriety test, or (2) use an official breathalyzer test, which is meant to determine scientifically if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit of .08%. Because the government is required to adhere to specific and complicated guidelines for administering and maintaining BAC tests and records, it is important that you retain an experienced attorney if you are ever arrested for a DUI. A knowledgeable DUI/DWI attorney will be able to review the records and may be able to have the BAC evidence thrown out so that it cannot be used against you.

If the BAC evidence is thrown out, or otherwise compromised or excluded, then the government will be required to rely on other evidence to prove that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, such as the field sobriety test. A police officer’s observations and notes regarding how a driver acts or appears, when combined with evidence of the officer’s experience in assessing impairment, can be used to convict a driver of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

In New Jersey, police officers may ask a driver to do a number of different exercises in an attempt to determine if the person is intoxicated, under the influence of any substances, or otherwise impaired, including standing on one leg, reciting the alphabet backwards, walking in a straight line, or following the police officer’s finger with the person’s eyes. Not all of the tests are admissible in court. The vision test, where a driver is asked to move his or her eyes from side to side, is considered scientifically reliable under the law. This is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test.

Nystagmus is a term to describe fast, uncontrollable movements of the eyes – sometimes also referred to as dancing eyes. Impairment due to alcohol and the use of certain drugs can cause involuntary nystagmus. Accordingly, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performed studies to determine if the HGN could be used to reliably determine if a person was operating a car while intoxicated or impaired by drugs, and the studies found the HGN test is 77% accurate in determining whether a person has a 0.10 BAC or more.

What Police Officers Are Looking for When Performing the Test

Police officers are provided with some training in how to perform an HGN test, including what signs of impairment to look for. The guidelines suggest that a police officer is checking for equal pupil size and whether the eyes are jerking involuntarily from side to side while at rest or while tracking an object from side to side. Three specific “clues” that officers are trained to look for include:

  1. The lack of smooth movement from side to side – bouncing rather than rolling smoothly.
  2. Distinct and sustained nystagmus when the eyes are held at maximum deviation and held for a minimum of four seconds.
  3. Onset of nystagmus when the eyes have moved less than 45 degrees to the side.

How a Lawyer May Challenge the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

Scientific and medical experts have concerns that the administration of the HGN test by police officers may be unreliable because these officers are not ophthalmologist, trained in the detection of eye movements and or eye pathologies. Some experts have also suggested that the NHTSA standards for performing the HGN test could lead to false results. One independent study concluded that, in a controlled laboratory test, police officers were wrong 41% of the time about whether a person with a .10% BAC experienced HGN.

Similarly, HGN can be caused by a number of other things, including injury, tiredness, illness, or medical conditions. In the case of Schultz v. State, a case from Maryland, the court recognized at least 38 medical conditions unrelated to alcohol that can cause HGN, including the flu, consumption of excessive amounts of caffeine, head trauma, some prescription drugs, and exposure to certain chemicals or toxins.

Because a police officer is looking at your behavior, appearance, and how you perform on these tests, your performance on any field sobriety test, as well as your ability to speak to the police officer and answer questions, can help in your defense against a DUI/DWI conviction. At the end of the day, these tests are not perfect and subject to human error. For that reason, it is important to always consult an experienced lawyer. A DUI attorney may be able to fight the charges against you or have the charges dismissed completely.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if You Are Arrested for Drunk Driving

An arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have life-changing consequences for any driver. Such a charge, and possible trial, can also be extremely complicated, especially when specific tests or scientific evidence is involved. If you are charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, an experienced DWI/DUI attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey DWI Attorney Discusses Possible Changes to the 0.08% Blood Alcohol Content Limit

Blood Alcohol Content LimitFor nearly two decades, the state of New Jersey has had a legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of .08%. That means that if you are pulled over in this state and suspected of drunk driving, and you take a properly administered breathalyzer test that determines you had a BAC reading of over .08%, you can be found guilty of drunk driving.

The BAC legal limit was lowered from .10% to .08% in every state across the nation nearly a decade ago (Delaware was the last state to adopt the .08% standard in 2004), after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made recommendations that the change could save lives. In 1998, a new Federal incentive grant was created to encourage states to adopt the .08 BAC illegal per se level, and, in 2000, Congress adopted .08 BAC as the national illegal limit for impaired driving.

Now, the NTSB is issuing new recommendations that the .08% BAC limit should be lowered again to .05% – and there are a few states that may be willing to follow suit, including New Jersey.

Utah to Become the First State with a .05% BAC Limit

Earlier this month, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed the state bill that would lower the legal BAC limit to .05%, stressing repeatedly that it was an issue of public safety. The law would take effect in that state at the end of 2018. The law faced opposition from the local restaurant and tourism industry, who feared that the new law would make drivers irrationally afraid of consuming alcohol on business premises. However, the state is basing its decision on a number of studies that show a lower BAC limit could save lives, as well as precedent set by most countries in Europe.

Until then, the state plans to address some of the complications that could arise with lowering the

Why the NTSB Wants to Lower the BAC Limit

The NTSB is recommending that all states change their laws to lower the blood alcohol limit from .08% to .05% based on the belief that it will save lives and make the roads safer for everyone who drives on them. The NTSB actually made these same recommendations to congress in 2013, but the recommendations were rejected at that time.

The NTSB is renewing its push to change the law, pointing to studies that say lowering the legal limit will result in 500 to 800 lives saved every year across the country, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that shows the average 160-pound male man will have impaired coordination and difficulty steering with a BAC of .05%. That same man would be at the .05% limit if he only drink two or three drinks in an hour, as opposed to four alcoholic beverages to reach the .08% level.

What This Could Mean for You

Utah is not a complete outlier in trying to lower the legal BAC limit. Several states have laws that lower the BAC legal limit for second or third time DWI/DUI offenders, and several New Jersey publications discussed the issue when the NTSB released its recommendations last year.

If the BAC limit is lowered in this state, it could mean that the average driver would be more easily subject to arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. For instance, a 120-pound person may be near or at the .05% limit after consuming only one drink – such as a glass of wine with dinner.

At the same time, the law would be much harder to enforce, because a person may not be as visibly intoxicated at the .05% level, and a police officer may have a harder time deciding whether or not to bring a driver back to the police station to administer a blood alcohol test.

Regardless of whether or not the law does change, we at the Edward M. Janzekovich Law Blog always recommend that you avoid drinking and driving. Depending on who you are, what you’ve had to eat that day, and/or what you are drinking, one drink can be enough to push your BAC over the legal limit, whether that limit is .05% or .08% or even .10%. At the same time, a BAC reading is not always perfect, and there may be legitimate reasons to challenge your arrest or charges for driving while intoxicated. If you or someone you know is pulled over or charged with drunk driving, the penalties can be extremely severe. For that reason, it is important to always consult an experienced lawyer. A DUI attorney may be able to fight the charges against you or have the charges dismissed completely.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if You Are Arrested for Drunk Driving

A DUI/DWI charge can have life-changing consequences for any driver. Such a charge, and possible trial on the charges, can also be extremely complicated, especially with the laws changing all the time. If you are charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, an experienced DWI/DUI attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

New York Jets Tight End Austin Seferian-Jenkins Reaches Plea Deal in DUI Case

Close up shot of an alcohol tester

Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins lost his job last September with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He was initially stopped for speeding, doing 75-80 mph in a 55 mph zone, weaving back and forth, and making an improper lane change. He was also charged for violating a Florida law that required that he have an ignition interlock device on his vehicle, after he plead guilty to a DUI charge he received while in college.

Because Seferian-Jenkins was arrested and convicted in the State of Florida, he was recently able to reach a plea deal in his case. He originally pled not guilty to the DUI/DWI charges. He amended his plea to no contest to a reckless driving charge. This option would not have been available if the same circumstances had occurred in New Jersey. In fact, a lot of things would have been different.

No Plea Deals and Mandatory Sentencing in New Jersey

Unlike Florida, the law in this State does not permit a defendant in a drunk driving case to plea bargain or enter into a plea arrangement with the police, the prosecutor, the court, or any other person on behalf of the state in order to receive a reduced sentence. In Florida, Seferian-Jenkins was permitted to enter a plea of no contest to reckless driving and, in exchange, he received 1 year of probation and 50 hours of community service. He also has to attend DUI school and pay a $500 fine.

If Seferian-Jenkins had been pulled over and convicted in the state of New Jersey, he would have received mandatory jail time from 2 to 90 days. This is because Seferian-Jenkins’ 2016 DUI would have been considered a second offense, and a second DUI in New Jersey results in a mandatory jail sentence. As a second offense, his driver’s license would also have been taken away for 2 years. The length of time for suspending the license is specifically required by law, although it can be even longer if the second offense occurred while the driver had a suspended license or if the driver was operating the vehicle in a school zone. Finally, because this was a second offense, Seferian-Jenkins would have been required to pay from $500-1000 in fines, plus mandatory court fees of $389 or more.

Moreover, none of these punishments include any potential additional sentence Seferian-Jenkins would have received because he was also in violation of his ignition interlock device restriction. In New Jersey, many drivers convicted of DUI, including some first time offenders, are required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device on their vehicle, and those drivers can receive heavy penalties for violating this law.

How an Attorney Can Help

The mandatory jail time, period of license suspension, and fines would have been even greater for Seferian-Jenkins if this had been a third or greater offense – and the punishments under the law cannot be negotiated in this state. Moreover, one of the worst consequences of getting convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is the fact that it can take away a defendant’s ability to drive and work or otherwise care for his family or loved ones.

For that reason, you should always consult an experienced DUI/DWI attorney if you or someone you know has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An attorney will be able to explain your situation, help you prepare the best defense in your case, and may be able to have the charges against you dismissed completely. Moreover, there are still some ways that an attorney may be able to work around the plea bargaining restrictions and help improve the circumstances of your case, such as helping you take advantage of the step-down provision that can help reduce the penalties for a second or greater offense.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Is Ready to Defend the Charges Against You

A DUI/DWI conviction means serious penalties that will affect you and your loved ones. For that reason, it is important to consult a drunk driving lawyer who knows how to help. If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, an experienced DWI/DUI attorney will know the best way to help and can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Examines Proposed Law Making Ignition Interlock Devices Mandatory for All DWI Convictions

DWI Convictions

A new bill introduced before the state legislature last year by State Senator Nicholas Scutari may drastically change the way drivers convicted of DUI in the state are convicted.  The proposed changes to the State’s Driving While Intoxicated law, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, seek to lessen some penalties for first time drunk drivers while making others more universal –  such as making Ignition Interlock Devices mandatory for all drivers convicted of DUI/DWI, even first time offenders.

Similar to the other proposed Senate Bill 404, discussed here earlier this year, it is important to recognize that there is no guarantee that this proposed bill will ever pass.  Also like that bill, the goal of Senator Scutari’s introduced legislation is to provide an alternative to drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, showing some added leniency to such drivers while simultaneously making the roads safer.

Which Parts of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 Might Be Affected?

In New Jersey, the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit for drunk driving in the state is .08%.  Under current law, someone convicted of DWI for the first time can have their license suspended for either 3 months (if his or her blood alcohol content is between .08% and .099%) or 7 to 12 months (if his or her blood alcohol content is .10% or greater). A judge has a lot of flexibility in deciding how long to suspend a driver’s license in those circumstances.

At the same time, a first time offender who is convicted with a blood alcohol content of .15% or greater must have an ignition interlock device installed on his or her vehicle during the period of license suspension until between 6 months to 1 year following license restoration.  An ignition interlock device is a device put on a car that requires a driver to provide a clean, alcohol breath sample before he or she can start the car.

How Will These Parts of the Law Change If the Proposed Bill is Passed?

Under Senator Scutari’s introduced legislation, a first time drunk driver who is convicted of driving with a BAC of between .08% and .099% will only have his or her license suspended for 30 days – a significant reduction from 3 months.  Similarly, a driver who is convicted of driving with a BAC of between .10% up to just less than .15% will have his or her license suspended for 45 days, while a driver who is convicted of driving with a BAC of .15% or higher will have his or her license suspended for 90 days.

At the same time, the proposed legislation hopes to make installation of an ignition interlock device mandatory for ALL drivers convicted under the DWI law.  The device must remain on the driver’s vehicle for the period of license suspension as well as an additional period of time between 3 months and 18 months after the driver gets his or her driving privileges reinstated.

What These Changes Would Mean if You Are Convicted

Losing one’s driving privileges is often the most severe penalty that first time drunk drivers face, because the penalty often means that a driver also loses his or her ability to go to work or otherwise provide for his or her family.  Reducing the period of license suspension for first time offenders recognizes this reality and tries to address the way the law punishes more than just the drunk driver.

At the same time, recent reports have estimated that ignition interlock devices have prevented more than 39,000 instances of drunk driving in New Jersey since 2010.  Therefore, requiring drivers to install an ignition interlock device attempts to make the roads safer for everyone.  The proposed law would not prevent a driver from being able to use his or her vehicle – for instance, to drive to work or buy groceries if necessary – but it would guarantee that the car could only be operated after a clean, alcohol-free breath sample is provided. 

The largest downside to the proposed law is that New Jersey requires the driver to pay for his or her own ignition interlock device, including the installation.  In addition to the nearly $1000 in fines that first time drunk drivers must already pay, an ignition interlock device could cost $70-150 to install and about $60-80 per month for additional monitoring and calibration.

Regardless of whether or not this bill becomes law, a person charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs should always contact an experienced drunk driving attorney, who will be able to provide the best advice or possibly defend the case and get the charges dismissed completely.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Is Looking Out for You

A charge for driving under the influence of alcohol can carry extremely serious penalties that affect you as well as your family and loved ones.  At the same time, new laws, rules, and regulations take effect all the time. For that reason, it is important to consult a drunk driving lawyer knows what to look for in your specific situation.  If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, an experienced DWI/DUI attorney will know the best way to help and can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

Heightened DUI Enforcement Around St. Patrick’s Day

St Patrick's Day green beer with shamrock

For the next two weeks, revelers and party-goers across the state will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, which is on Friday, March 17, 2017 this year. Similarly, for the next two weeks – but especially on the weekends – police officers and law enforcement officials across the state will also be on heightened alert for anyone who might be on the roads driving drunk or under the influence of any impairments.

For that reason, we at the Law Office of Edward M. Janzekovich would like to remind you to be extra careful about driving during this time period, especially if you’ve been out at bars, attended any parties, or had anything to drink. You should exercise caution to keep yourself, your loved ones, and others safe – because any decision to get behind the wheel drunk could result in serious injuries or worse.

Moreover, even if you think you are capable of driving, underestimating your blood alcohol tolerance by the smallest margin can be the difference between driving legally and facing serious consequences. In fact, even if you operate your vehicle perfectly, you may still be stopped at a random police check point. Being pulled over with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or more can result in the loss of driving privileges, jail time, and the inability to provide for your family or loved ones.

Police Checkpoints and Stops in the Month of March

Around any holiday, it is common for local police departments to set up unannounced police checkpoints around main roads or near bars or restaurants, in order to randomly check drivers and monitor for anyone who may be driving while intoxicated. However, the police are aware that St. Patrick’s Day, especially, can involve large amounts of drinking. For that reason, last year, the State Police even created sobriety checkpoints on the New Jersey Turnpike on the Saturday leading up to St. Paddy’s Day.

While the State Police acknowledged that the holiday is about “fun in the streets, socializing with your closest friends, and rejoicing in celebration,” they also pointed out that “people who choose to drive after drinking already know how expensive, life-changing, and deadly such a decision can be.” The public service announcement further encouraged other drivers to dial a special hotline or call a police station to report aggressive, intoxicated, or questionable drivers.

This is not an issue limited to New Jersey, either. For the next two weeks, police officers across the state and the country will be on the look-out for any signs or drunk driving. In fact, statistics from Maryland and New York showed that hundreds of drivers were arrested on or around the holiday last year, while 41% of fatal crashes on St. Paddy’s day last year were alcohol related. Therefore, if you plan to go out and celebrate during March, you should take a taxi, call an Uber, or pick a designated driver. Otherwise, even if you don’t get in an accident and hurt yourself or others, you run the risk of getting arrested for drunk driving every time you choose to have even one drink and get behind the wheel.

If You Are Arrested or Charged with DUI/DWI, An Experienced Attorney Can Help

Even if you think you did not do anything wrong while driving, a BAC of .08% or higher in this state is a per se violation – which means that you can be convicted of drunk driving even if you pass every field sobriety test at a DUI checkpoint and did not do anything wrong in the operation of your vehicle. There are some ways to challenge breathalyzer evidence, but it is extremely complicated. For that reason, if you or someone you know is arrested or charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or some other impairment, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

A knowledgeable and experienced drunk driving lawyer will be able to review the circumstances of your case, inform you of your rights and the possible consequences you may be facing, and help you present the best defense on your behalf. Depending on your situation, an experienced attorney may even be able to have the charges against you dismissed completely.

New Jersey DWI/ DUI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Knows How to Help if You Are Arrested and Charged with Drunk Driving

If you or someone you know is pulled over, arrested, or charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is extremely important to contact a knowledgeable attorney who can explain what consequences you are facing in your specific situation. If you go to court, an experienced lawyer will also argue on your behalf and may be able to have the charges against you dropped entirely. Having an experienced drunk driving lawyer can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Discusses Plea Bargaining in Drunk Driving Cases

Bargaining in Drunk Driving Cases

Generally speaking, the law in New Jersey does not permit a defendant in a drunk driving case to plea bargain or enter into a plea arrangement with the police, the prosecutor, the court, or any other person on behalf of the state when it comes to charges for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Therefore, if you are charged with DUI/DWI, and you were hoping to be able to plead guilty in order to have the charges changed or the penalties reduced, you may be out of luck. As with anything, however, that may not be the whole story.

While the New Jersey Supreme Court has long recognized the value of plea bargaining in order to make the administration of justice more effective, specific restrictions on plea bargaining were placed on defendants charged with violating N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, the state’s DWI/DUI law. Since State v. Hessen, the Courts ruled to take away a prosecutor or judge’s power to dismiss or downgrade drunk driving cases. For that reason, it is extremely important to consult an experienced drunk driving attorney if you or someone you know has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An attorney will be able to explain your situation, help you prepare the best defense in your case, and may be able to have the charges against you dismissed completely. Moreover, there are still some ways that an attorney may be able to work around the plea bargaining restrictions and help improve the circumstances of your case.

An Attorney Can Still Help Have Your Case Dismissed

First, it is important to remember that the ban on plea bargaining in DUI/DWI cases does not mean that a court or prosecutor cannot decide to dismiss the charges against you completely. Municipal prosecutors have a legal and ethical obligation to ensure that justice is done in individual cases. This means that they should not prosecute a drunk driving case where the evidence cannot support the charges. Thus, an application by a municipal prosecutor to dismiss a drunk driving case or seek its downgrade to a different offense based upon evidentiary or proof problems does not constitute a plea arrangement under the rules.

For instance, as we have previously discussed in this blog, an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer may be able to have certain evidence excluded in your case – such as due to a problem in the way breathalyzer or blood alcohol content evidence was collected. This could result in the prosecutor deciding to downgrade or dismiss the charges for evidentiary reasons without plea bargaining.

Other Exceptions to the Plea Bargaining Ban

The rules forbidding plea bargaining cases also only apply to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 charges. Therefore, an attorney can still help you have related charges merged or amended if you are being charged for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the same time. The rules permit the dismissal of traffic tickets, ordinance violations, and disorderly persons offenses that are companion to a drunk driving ticket. These charges are considered to be companion if they come out of the same set of facts and circumstances that led to the DUI/DWI incident.

While entering in this kind of plea bargain will not eliminate the penalties associated with a conviction for drunk driving, a defendant who pleads guilty to a drunk driving offense in exchange for the dismissal of companion offenses may often avoid many thousands of dollars in fines, mandatory jail terms, additional loss of license, and or significant consequences.

Finally, there are a number of other complicated situations wherein a defendant may be permitted to enter into a plea arrangement with the court. This includes when a defendant is charged with DUI and refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test, or when a defendant is charged with DWI while in a school zone. If you or someone you know is arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is important that you contact an experienced lawyer immediately, so that you can understand and take advantage of certain laws that can lessen the penalties you must face.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Will Negotiate and Argue on Your Behalf

DWI/DUI laws are often very complicated and the specific rules that affect each defendant can vary depending on the situation. If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence in New Jersey, knowing what your rights are can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.

New Jersey DUI Lawyer – Why You Can’t Expunge a DWI / DUI Conviction in New Jersey and What That Means When Applying for a New Job

New-Jersey-Drunk-DrivingThe law in New Jersey is different than 48 other states in that it treats a DWI/DUI as a motor vehicle offense instead of a criminal violation. As such, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is recorded on a driver’s Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records, aka a driver’s abstract.

Moreover, in New Jersey, expungements are limited to only criminal offenses, and, since DUI/ DWIs in New Jersey are traffic offenses and not criminal offenses, a conviction for drunk driving can never be expunged from someone’s driving record. Only criminal arrests or convictions that fall under the 2C code can be expunged in New Jersey. However, this rule is not entirely negative. The rule does result in the benefit of the DWI/DUI not showing on an individual’s criminal history.

Note however, this doesn’t mean convicted offenders won’t face criminal penalties. The law considers driving under the influence as a pseudo-crime or quasi crime, and the consequences can be severe, including fines and loss of driving privileges. Prison time is also possible for a DWI/DUI, and it is mandatory when a driver commits a second or third offense. For example, by New Jersey law, third-time offenders are sentenced to a prison term of 180 days or more.

DWI/DUI and its Effect on Employment Applications

Since drunk driving is not considered a criminal offense under the New Jersey criminal code, drivers who have been convicted and are applying for jobs after their conviction do not have to answer, “yes,” if the employer asks if they have ever been convicted of a crime. Sometimes, however, employers may ask if a person has been convicted of anything but a minor traffic offense. DWI convictions are considered major traffic offenses, so in those cases, an applicant with a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs should answer truthfully that they do have a history of more than just minor traffic offenses.

Many times, potential employers conduct background checks as part of their hiring process. Such background checks usually include an applicant’s driving record (which will show the drunk driving conviction), criminal record, court records and incarceration records. New Jersey does not report DUIs to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) — a common criminal history database that employers check – so the DUI/DWI will not show on the NCIC check.

Exceptions – When You Must Disclose Your DWI/DUI Conviction to a Potential Employer or Other Reviewer

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers across the United States from denying employment to individuals with a conviction unless they can prove a compelling business reason. Certain professions, like teachers, nurses, doctors and law enforcement officials, require disclosure as a condition of employment. There are other situations where a conviction must also disclosed, such as when a person is applying for a professional license – such as a law school graduate applying for admission to a state bar.

Notably, positions that require driving have obvious compelling business reasons to discriminate against DWI/DUI offenders. Therefore, someone with a DWI/DUI conviction who is applying for a position as a commercial truck driver, cab driver, delivery truck driver, etc. should disclose their prior DWI/DUI conviction.

For all these reasons, it is especially important to hire an experienced New Jersey DUI/DWI attorney if you have been arrested or charged with drunk driving in this state. Not only do penalties include the possibility of jail time, significant fines, and loss of driving privileges – a conviction for driving while intoxicated can also result in the loss of current of future job possibilities. An experienced lawyer can help you take advantage of certain laws that can lessen the penalties you must face or may be able to have the charges against you dismissed completely.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help Drivers Facing DUI Charges

The law regarding criminal history checks and expungements of DWI/DUI can be complicated and is different for everyone, depending on their situation. If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence in New Jersey, knowing what your rights are can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.

The Twenty Minute Breathalyzer Waiting Period

Drunk driving breath test
It is likely common knowledge that if you are pulled over and arrested for drunk driving, one of the ways the police may try to prove the charges against you is by making you take a breathalyzer test. The breathalyzer test is meant to measure your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), and the legal limit for driving in New Jersey is under .08%

What many drivers do not realize, however, is that there are two potential breathalyzer tests that a police officer may use during a drunk driving investigation and arrest: the roadside breath test and a breathalyzer taken back at the police station. The roadside breath test is sometimes also called a portable breath test (PBT), and it is usually provided on a small handheld device that looks like an inhaler you blow into. It is not as accurate as the station test. For that reason, the PBT is only used to get an estimate of BAC and used to establish that the police officer has probable cause to conduct an official breathalyzer test at the police station. The results of the PBT are not admissible in court to prove drunk driving.

There’s another rule that many people do not know about. Once a drunk driving suspect is brought back to the police station, the police still cannot immediately administer the official breathalyzer test on the Alcotest 7110 machine.

20-Minute Observation or Waiting Period

According to the Supreme Court in State v. Chun, operators of the Alcotest 7110 machine must wait at least 20 minutes before collecting a sample from a person who has been arrested in order to avoid overestimating the readings due to the possibility of residual effects of alcohol in the mouth. In fact, the breathalyzer machine is programmed to prohibit the operation of the device before 20 minutes has passed from the time entered as the time of arrest.

During this time, the DUI/DWI suspect must be watched, uninterrupted, during this waiting time to make sure that no alcohol has entered the person’s mouth while he or she was waiting for the start of the testing procedure. According to another case, Romano v. Kimmelman, the government has the burden of proving that they adhered to this 20-minute observation period requirement. Additionally, if the person swallows anything or throws up or the police officer notices chewing gum or tobacco or any other foreign objects in the person’s mouth, the machine operator is required to start over the 20-minute waiting period.

Actual Observation Requirement

In order for the waiting period to be legally valid, police officers are trained that drunk driving suspect must be observed uninterrupted for 20 minutes. It is not enough that the person under arrest be in police custody, such as in the back of the police car in handcuffs, for that period of time. The proper procedure requires that the person actually be watched by the Alcotest machine operator for the entire period of time in order to avoid taking steps that could conceivably contaminate the breath sample.
Similarly, the police officer’s observation must be of the sort that makes it possible for the police officer to detect if contamination occurs. If the police officer looks away, he must be close enough to detect contamination by smelling it or hearing it. An officer who rides alone in the police vehicle with the DUI suspect must be able to pay attention to the suspect, free from road-related distractions, in order to spot the suspect throwing up or putting anything in his or her mouth.

Failure to Follow the Requirements

Because of the strict requirements of the rule, it is often the case that the government is unable to show that the 20-minute observation period was specifically followed. If the rule is not followed as demanded by the law, then an experienced drunk driving attorney will be able to challenge the results of the Alcotest, and may be able to have the results of the test suppressed so that it cannot be used in Court.

Because the law regarding BAC evidence is so complicated, it is important to always consult an experienced DWI/DUI lawyer if you or someone you know is pulled over and charged with drunk driving. An DUI attorney may be able to fight the charges against you or have the charges dismissed completely.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Knows How to Defend You if You Are Charged with Drunk Driving

A DUI/DWI charge for operating a motor vehicle will involve many complicated evidential issues. Such a charge can also result in severe penalties that affect you and your loved ones. If you are charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, an experienced DWI/DUI attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey DWI Attorney Discusses Auto Brewery Syndrome – Could it Be Responsible for Your DUI?

Auto-Brewery-SyndromeThe consequences for getting a convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the State of New Jersey are potentially devastating. Even a first offense can result in jail time, loss of license, fines, and the potential loss of your ability to work or provide for your family and loved ones. If you have already been convicted of one or more prior DWIs, any additional offense will result in much more devastating penalties: mandatory jail, loss of license, and other increased punishments compared to the first offense.

But what if you have been unfairly convicted because of a rare medical condition?

Auto Brewery Syndrome is a rare medical condition that could make it appear as if you have been drinking and driving, even when you haven’t. Also known as gut fermentation syndrome, the condition has even been known to lead to unfair charges for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

What is Auto Brewery Syndrome?

Auto Brewery Syndrome is a rare medical condition in which intoxicating amounts of ethanol – the scientific name for drinking alcohol – is spontaneously made within a person’s body in their digestive system. It is potentially caused by having an unusually large amount of active yeast in the body – possibly brewer’s yeast, also known as saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is normally used to turn sugars into alcohol when making beer or other liquors. An excess of yeast in the gastrointestinal tract can sometimes lead to a person’s body turning into its own brewery – making alcohol from sugar inside the body and getting a person drunk even when they have not had any alcohol to drink.

Brewer’s yeast can be found in a great many places, including breads, wine and beer. Usually, it just passes through the body harmlessly. In very rare cases, it takes up residence in the intestines and can multiply, leading to Auto Brewery Syndrome. Although researchers do not know the exact cause for the condition, some speculate that it can affect some individuals after taking antibiotics and leading to an intestinal imbalance.

Known Cases of Auto Brewery Syndrome

In one known case of Auto Brewery Syndrome, a man in Texas showed up to the Emergency Room complaining of dizziness. A quick test revealed he had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .37% – almost five times the legal limit for driving in the state. However, the man claimed he had not had a drop of alcohol. This was not the first time it had happened to him, either. After performing some studies on him, the doctors were able to confirm he had Auto Brewery Syndrome when they gave him a .12% BAC without drinking any alcohol, simply by feeding him carbohydrate rich foods.

Could Auto Brewery Syndrome Be the Cause of Your DUI?

Although Auto Brewery Syndrome is still not well-understood by the scientific and medical community, there are some cases where it has been used as a defense against drunk driving charges. Proving such a case can be very difficult, however, because the condition is not well-known and courts will be skeptical as to any defendant who claims he or she had a BAC over the legal limit but was not actually drinking. Evidence in such a case will need to include expert testimony from a doctor or other expert who can verify that a defendant suffers from the condition. If you suspect you or someone you know has Auto Brewery Syndrome, it is important to consult a physician to have any symptoms well-documented.

Furthermore, if you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with DUI/DWI, it is important to consult an experienced attorney immediately. A lawyer who specializes in drunk driving law will be able to review your case, look for rare circumstances such as Auto Brewery Syndrome, and help to prepare the best defense possible. With the right evidence, an experienced drunk driving attorney may be able to have the charges against you dropped completely.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help, Even in Complicated Drunk Driving Cases

A charge for driving under the influence of alcohol is extremely serious and defending those cases often involve complicated evidentiary issues. For that reason, it is important to consult a drunk driving lawyer who understands and can review your case completely. An experienced DWI/DUI attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey DUI Lawyer Takes a First Look at Proposed Senate Bill 404, Considering Diversionary Treatment for Intoxicated Drivers

Drunk-Driving
Although the bill was introduced last year, the New Jersey Senate may soon be considering updates to the State’s Driving While Intoxicated law, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, as submitted by Senator Peter J. Barnes, III of District 18.  The law has not been changed since 2009.  While it has not yet been passed, the newest version would create a Diversionary Program for certain defendants who are charged with driving while intoxicated, providing an alternative to the harsher penalties that currently exist for individuals convicted of drunk driving.

Who Will the Proposed Diversionary Program Affect?

The proposed law is an attempt to give a second chance to defendants charged with a first offense of the state’s Driving While Intoxicated law.  It would affect any driver who pleads guilty or is convicted and found guilty of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, as defined by the statute.  A defendant can take advantage of the new provisions if he or she has never been found guilty of drunk driving before and never participated in the diversionary program before. 

Once these requirements are met, a driver has the opportunity to enter by providing notice to the prosecutor and apply for entry into the program.  The court will consider the application based on several factors, including:

  1. The facts surrounding the commission of the offense;
  2. The motivation, age, character, and attitude of the defendant;
  3. The needs and interests of the community;
  4. The likelihood that the defendant’s offense is related to a condition or situation that would be conducive to change through the defendant’s participation in the intoxicated driver diversionary program; and
  5. Any other factors deemed relevant by the court.

The driver also cannot take advantage of the program if he or she caused an accident resulting in a serious injury or if he or she was driving a passenger under the age of 14 at the time.

A driver can only take advantage of this opportunity once.

How Can the Program Help?

Under current law, first-time drunk driving defendants are fined $250 to $400 if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% to 0.10%.  They are fined $300 to $500 if their BAC is more than 0.10%.  In addition, a first-time defendant’s driver’s license can be suspended for three months if the person’s BAC is 0.08% to 0.10%, and the driver’s license of a defendant whose BAC is more than 0.10% is suspended for seven months to one year.  Finally, certain DUI defendants are required to install an ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle during or after the period of driver’s license suspension.

Under the new law, the diversionary program can last between 60 days and two years.  During the period of enrollment, the DUI/DWI charges against the driver are suspended.  If the driver successfully completes the program, the original charges are dismissed.  Furthermore, the court shall order that the charges be removed from the individual’s driver’s history abstract and it is not considered a conviction for other legal purposes.  Finally, charges dismissed based on the diversionary program are not counted as a first offense when calculating subsequent penalties if the driver is later convicted or found guilty of DWI/DUI again.  

It is important to recognize that there is no guarantee that this proposed bill will ever pass.  Many bills are introduced before the New Jersey State Assembly and Senate every legislative year.  Regardless of whether or not this bill becomes law, a person charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs should always contact an experienced drunk driving attorney, who will be able to provide the best advice or may be able to have the charges dropped completely.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Knows How to Help if You Are Charged with Drunk Driving

A charge for driving under the influence of alcohol is extremely serious and new laws, rules, and regulations take effect all the time. For that reason, it is important to consult a drunk driving lawyer who makes it his job to know all the changes.  If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, an experienced DWI/DUI attorney will know the best way to help and can make all the difference.  To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.