Vince Vaughn Charged Over Weekend with DUI at Checkpoint

DUI Checkpoint

Actor and Hollywood Celebrity Vince Vaughn was charged on Friday with driving under the influence of alcohol. The charges were announced by Los Angeles County prosecutors arising from a June 10 stop at a DUI checkpoint in Manhattan Beach, California. He received three charges: misdemeanor driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, misdemeanor driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, and misdemeanor refusing to comply with police.

Although New Jersey’s intoxicated driving law is different than California’s, the nationwide legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is the same at .08% BAC. If you are caught driving with a .08% BAC or higher anywhere in the state, you will likely face charges for driving under the influence under the state’s laws, which do not include different charges for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving while intoxicated as a result of any other substance.

If you or someone you know is arrested, charged, or convicted of DUI or DWI in the state, it is important to consult an experienced lawyer as soon as possible, because establishing a good defense can be complicated and time sensitive.

Vince Vaughn’s Arrest at a DUI Checkpoint

Vince Vaugh, the actor and comedian well-known for his roles in such films as Wedding Crashers and Dodgeball, apparently refused to get out of his vehicle when he arrived as sobriety checkpoint this summer. He subsequently failed a field sobriety test, and the results of the test were captured on a police officer’s body camera. Vaughn then also failed a blood alcohol content test showing that his BAC was .08% or higher.

The fact that he was caught on camera failing his sobriety test is important. As previously discussed on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, the standard field sobriety tests in New Jersey can include walking-and-turning in a straight line, standing on one foot, and performing a horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Failing these tests can provide an independent basis for the charges of drunk driving. This is in addition to failing the blood alcohol test, which was likely a breathalyzer test.

Misdemeanor DUI

On Friday, Vaughn was charged with misdemeanor DUI based on this incident. Misdemeanor DUI is charged in California for first, second, or third incidents of drunk driving wherein there is no accident or injury. Fourth or subsequent incidents, or incidents wherein there is an accident or injury may be charged as a Felony DUI.

In New Jersey, the law does not differentiate between misdemeanor (disorderly persons) or felony DUI, as drunk driving is considered a quasi-criminal offense in the state. Nonetheless, the penalties remain extremely serious and can include jail time, as well as severe fines and lengthy loss of driving privileges. Because it is considered quasi-criminal, a DUI conviction will also remain on a person’s permanent driver’s record. At the same time, a drunk driving that results in an accident or injury in New Jersey can result in additional charges depending on the specific circumstances.

If you or someone you know has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney immediately. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, you could be facing significant charges and consequences. A good lawyer will be able to review your situation, identify the best defenses, and may even be able to have the charges against you dismissed completely.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Fight Your DUI Charges

Every person is different and every DUI or DWI case is different. If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, you will want an attorney who gives you individual attention and advice that can help. A good lawyer 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.

ICE and Enforcement and Removal for Drunk Drivers

ICE and Enforcement and Removal for Drunk Drivers

Earlier this summer, 37 individuals were arrested by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in New Jersey after the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Newark Field Office targeted individuals recently incarcerated for crimes in the state including Drunk Driving.

This news echoes predictions previously made on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog. As noted, the punishment for DUI or DWI conviction is already extremely serious, but those consequences can be even more far-reaching for those who are not US citizens. In light of recent events, it is important to realize that drunk driving could result in additional consequences for certain non-citizens, because convictions can help Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials locate wanted persons and start a deportation proceeding.

In every case where you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is important to contact a lawyer. In special cases where you believe a conviction might result in your deportation or the deportation of someone you know, it becomes absolutely essential to contact a skilled New Jersey DUI/DWI attorney as soon as possible, in order to present the best possible defense before it is too late.

ICE ERO Arrests Following Middlesex County Incarceration

This summer, ICE officials concluded an operation targeting criminals who were previously housed at the Middlesex County Jail. Those persons were jailed for a variety of crimes, including pursuant to New Jersey’s DUI and DWI statutes. After being released from jail, 37 persons were then arrested by ICE and ERO agents. Some of the individuals arrested had no prior or pending criminal convictions or charges, and this was their first time in jail.

The individuals arrested as part of the operation were nationals of Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, and Turkey, and they ranged from 21 to 68 years old.

The acting ERO Newark Field Office Director stated afterwards that his office is committed to enforcing ICE’s directives and goals. Other statements noted that official efforts would take place regardless of whether an individual city considered itself a sanctuary city or planned to cooperate with the ICE directives to detain and advise ICE of the release of certain illegal persons.

How a DUI Arrest Can Affect Non-Citizens and Even Lead to Deportation

A conviction for drunk driving is a quasi-criminal offense. The consequences, including fines, loss of driving privileges, and jail time, are considered as part of the law the prohibits any person from operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. If you are charged with DUI or DWI, you will likely need to go to Court, at which time the Court will discuss the potential penalties with you that are expressly stated in the law.

As noted above, there are additional consequences that could result that are not specifically discussed by the drunk driving statute. New Jersey Municipal Court judges will generally advise individuals who are non-US citizens of the potential immigration consequences associated with a finding of guilty. However, judges only have to put a person on notice that such consequences might result, and the Court does not provide detailed legal advice on the issue. For that reason, it is best to first consult with a knowledgeable DUI attorney before going to court to make sure you fully understand your rights and options.

Otherwise, if you are a non-citizen and plead guilty to drunk driving, you may not realize that you might prevent yourself from becoming a citizen in the future or it could lead to your deportation.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Understands the Serious Consequences of Driving While Intoxicated

If you are guilty of DWI/DUI, it can mean serious penalties – jail time, heavy fines, and loss of license at a minimum. Certain drivers face additional consequences – based on their work or immigration status. If you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence, it is important to have a lawyer who knows what penalties can occur and how to help. A good attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 1-732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

Challenging the Blood Alcohol Test in a New Jersey DUI

Challenging-the-Blood-Alcohol-Test

Did you know that plea bargaining is not allowed in a DUI prosecution in New Jersey? You can plead guilty, but you’ll simply have to accept the punishment handed down by the court. You may, however, be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed entirely if you can successfully challenge the admissibility of critical evidence, such as the blood alcohol test.

Ways to Challenge a Blood Alcohol Test

One of the best ways to fight a DUI in New Jersey is to challenge the validity of the blood test. To do so, you need to pose legitimate questions about the reliability of the test and the results. Here are some of the questions to ask:

  • Where was the blood test taken and who administered it? Was it done by a licensed doctor or a registered nurse? If the prosecution doesn’t know who took your blood and cannot produce that person to testify at trial, the case may be dismissed.
  • Often, before drawing blood, a nurse or doctor will clean your skin with an iodine swab. Studies have shown that this can have an impact on blood alcohol readings. Ask if that was done. If so, the findings may be subject to challenge.
  • Has the blood alcohol testing machine been properly maintained? When was it last calibrated or serviced? Has it been found to produce inconsistent or false readings in the past?
  • Are you able to conduct an independent test of the blood? Sometimes, police will discard any blood that remains after the initial test. If there’s none left over for you to have an independent test conducted, you may be able to get the charges thrown out.

Contact Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich

To schedule an appointment with an experienced New Jersey DUI defense attorney, contact my office online or call me at 732-257-1137. There is no cost or obligation for your first meeting. Evening and weekend consultations are available by appointment. I accept all major credit cards.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney Says Marijuana Legislation Could Pass in September

New Jersey Recreational Marijuana

Here, at the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we have been following the marijuana legalization news closely, because it will likely have far reaching effects for New Jersey residents and drivers. In the past week, New Jersey Senate President, Steve Sweeney, released a statement hinting that recreational marijuana legalization could be passed by the end of the year, possibly as soon as next month.

Specifically, Senator Sweeney, who supports legalization, stated that he believes he has enough support in the Senate to pass the legislation if it were to come to a vote. Senator Sweeney noted that the same holds true for Assemblyman Speaker Craig Coughlin, regarding any vote on corresponding legislation in the New Jersey State Assembly.

Legislation on Recreational Marijuana

Although the specifics of any legislation have not yet been revealed, many state politicians have made their positions on recreational marijuana known. Accordingly, Senator Sweeney stated that he believes he and Assemblyman Coughlin can get the necessary votes to pass any measures in their chambers, 21 and 41 respectively, despite not having presented an official bill.

Senator Sweeney noted that he plans to couple recreational legalization with an expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program, in order to gain more supporters and votes in his favor. Recent expansions to medical marijuana in the State have received support by both Republicans and Democrats, so joining the two measures could force increased support.

There have also been discussions about how to treat individuals previously convicted of marijuana possession, and legislators are considering expunging past criminal records regarding possession.

Previous Efforts to Legalize Marijuana

Earlier this year, Governor Phil Murphy and state legislators passed a new state budget that omitted any mention of recreational marijuana. Nonetheless, Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman Coughlin promised to revisit the issue later this summer. Moreover, Governor Murphy previously made it a goal of his Governorship to make recreational marijuana legal in New Jersey, and he already pushed through large expansions to the medical marijuana program, previously discussed on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog. Finally, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued an order and guidelines to all county and municipal governments to resolve possession of marijuana cases.

THC or Marijuana Intoxication and Driving

If a system is created for regulating and taxing marijuana sales, New Jersey drivers must still be aware that there are no plans to change how marijuana intoxication is treated by police officers on New Jersey state roads. Moreover, DWI and DUI convictions will not be included with any plan to forgive past criminal convictions for marijuana possession by expungement or removal from criminal records.

Therefore, regardless of what happens with recreational or medical marijuana, it will still be illegal to operate a motor vehicle while impaired due to marijuana or THC consumption, in the same way it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while drunk even though alcohol is legal. Because a conviction for driving under the influence is quasi-criminal, it also can never be expunged from a person’s driver’s history or driver’s abstract.

If you are convicted of DUI or DWI, it is possible to have a past conviction ignored for the purposes of sentencing if more than ten years has passed since the last conviction. However, your record will still show the past conviction, and this can affect your ability to apply for certain jobs or positions. If you’re convicted, that will likely be permanent, unless it is successfully appealed.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if You Are Charged with Smoking Marijuana and Driving

Accordingly, if you or someone you know is pulled over and arrested or charged with intoxicated driving, you should contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Regardless of how the law changes in this area, a conviction for DUI or DWI will still have significant short and long-term consequences. A good lawyer may be able to have the charges against you dropped or dismissed completely. 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.

How A DUI or DWI Conviction Can Affect Your Public Employment

Here, on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we regularly highlight the penalties for driving while intoxicated that are written into New Jersey law. However, many drivers who are convicted of a DUI or DWI will face additional consequences, including having a conviction affect their work or employment.

Drunk Driver being pulled over by police cops

If you work in a position of public employment, there is a particularly good chance that a conviction for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol could result in adverse consequences, from suspension, to loss of pay, to demotion, or even outright termination. For this reason, if you or someone you know is ever arrested, charged, or convicted of driving while intoxicated, you should contact a lawyer who specializes in DUI defense immediately. A good attorney could mean the difference between being convicted or having the charges dropped completely.

Public Employees that Could Be Affected

Many positions of public employment include policies that address drunk driving – either specifically or by more general terms. These policies may be referred to as a Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics. If the language of the policy does not address drunk driving explicitly, drunk driving may still be considered under language prohibiting “conduct unbecoming” of a person in that office or position.

Police officers, firefighters, prosecutors, public attorneys, elected officials, and public administrators are just some of the positions that can be affected by an official Code of Conduct that addresses DUI and DWI convictions.

How a Conviction Could Affect Your Employment

Every position and every code of conduct can address issues with DUI and DWI convictions differently, and different positions at the same office of public agency can be affected differently. Some codes may only address drunk driving while in the course of employment, while others will prohibit intoxicated driving even for employees in their personal or private life.
For example, last month, a high-ranking official in the New York City Fire Department was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in New Jersey. After he was spotted swerving on the road by police officers, he was pulled over and required to submit to a blood alcohol or breathalyzer test. According to reports, his blood alcohol content (BAC) was .22%, which is nearly three times the legal limit of .08%. He was not in the course of his employment at the time and was operating his personal vehicle.

As a result of this conviction, the official was suspended without pay from his job for 30 days. The official also faces penalties under New Jersey law for driving while intoxicated – which can include loss of driving privileges, significant fines, mandatory installation of an interlock device, and possible jail time.

For many public employees, a DUI or DWI conviction may also affect them in the future, becoming an issue that could cost the employee a promotion, raise, or eligibility for advancement.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Understands How a Conviction Can Affect Your Job

The penalties for drunk driving are severe. In addition to fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges, a conviction can also mean professional consequences for many drivers. If you or someone you know is charged with DUI or DWI, an experienced lawyer can also make sure you get the best result possible. A good attorney 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.

Route 70 and Jersey Shore Crackdown

Jersey Shore

New Jersey is known for many things – not the least of which is the amount of cars and traffic on our roads. Whether you live in the state or are passing through, you are likely familiar with the congestion that can be found on any of the Garden State’s many highways at any given point in time. Countless drivers use New Jersey roads every day, for work or pleasure, and, in the summer, many of those drivers can be found in Monmouth and Ocean counties on the way to the Jersey Shore.

In a recent announcement, townships throughout New Jersey have decided to join together and crack down on dangerous driving along state highways – particularly in Monmouth and Ocean counties – in response to reports that show an increase in crashes and motor vehicle fatalities in recent years. The initiative, which has been referred to as a Traffic Safety/Enforcement Initiative, has been championed by Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato, but will involve at least seven (7) municipal jurisdictions along Highway Route 70 in Ocean and Monmouth County, including:

  1. Brielle Borough (Monmouth County)
  2. Brick Township (Ocean County)
  3. Lakewood Township (Ocean County)
  4. Toms River Township (Ocean County)
  5. Manchester Township (Ocean County)
  6. Lakehurst Borough (Ocean County)
  7. Wall Township (Monmouth County)

New Jersey State Highway Route 70

Route 70 is a nearly 60-mile long highway extending from Pennsauken Township in Camden County to Wall Township in Monmouth County. At its widest, it is a six-lane roadway, but is only two lanes wide at many areas. According to official statistics, there were 548 motor vehicle crashes on Rt. 70 in 2016. Of the crashes that occurred within Ocean County, 4-out-of-41 or 10% were fatal. In 2017, the percentage of fatalities rose to 19%.

The Traffic Safety / Enforcement Initiative

The official safety action will be conducted in three phases: engineering, education and enforcement. The plan is being supported by the Police Departments of all the previously mentioned towns and boroughs, as well as by New Jersey State Police Tactical Patrol Units and the DUI Enforcement Patrol Unit.

Officers have been instructed to specifically be on the look-out for signs of drunk driving or driving while under the influence. There also will be an automated license plate reader in use to identify those driving illegally on a suspended or restricted license. Any kind of suspicious or illegal activity on the roads could lead to a driver being pulled over, including:

  1. Aggressive Driving
  2. Improper Turning
  3. Failure to Yield
  4. Failure to Keep Right
  5. Improper Passing
  6. Inattentive Driving
  7. Disregarding Traffic Signals
  8. Speeding
  9. Following Too Close

Police officers will also be looking for commercial vehicle violations such as overweight, equipment maintenance and brake pressure.

If a police officer pulls a driver over for a legitimate reason, such as one of the motor vehicle violations listed above, the driver might be arrested and charged with DUI or DWI if there is enough evidence for the officer to reasonably suspect that the driver has been operating the vehicle while impaired.

Similar enforcement partnerships have also been put in place on Routes 539, 528, 35 and 37.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Is Here To Help Defendants Charged with DUI Violations

Whether you live in New Jersey or are driving through the state, if you or someone you know is charged for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs on a New Jersey roadway or highway, you want an experienced NJ DUI/DWI attorney who can help. A good lawyer 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.

Marijuana / Weed Offenses Won’t Be Prosecuted Until At Least September

Marijuana arrest

Just last week, we at the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog reported on Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey legislator’s decisions to leave legalized marijuana off of the last-minute state budget passed earlier this month. In a surprising and sudden turn of events, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued an order on Tuesday to all county and municipal governments to suspend hearings in marijuana-related cases until early September. That means that all defendants who have pending or future marijuana charges against them will not have the charges against them prosecuted until after the end of August.

This could affect thousands of defendants across the state, and it could foreshadow legal marijuana legislation in the near future. At the same time, it could just represent an attempt to clarify and offer guidance to local governments across the state in order to make sure marijuana enforcement is uniform. Notably, the temporary adjournment does not direct police officers to stop making marijuana arrests, and there is no mention of how marijuana-related intoxicated driving enforcement (driving while high) will be treated.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s Letter

The Attorney General’s letter came in response to a memorandum from the Chief Municipal Prosecutor of the City of Jersey City. It specifically aims to provide clarity and guidance about the scope of municipal discretionary authority, which suggests that the State Government in Trenton wants all marijuana offenses to be treated similarly across the state – without allowing individual towns and cities to decide how seriously to treat marijuana-related offenses. To the extent that marijuana has already been decriminalized, this could change how marijuana possession type crimes are treated entirely.

The letter specifically asks “that all municipal prosecutors in New Jersey seek an adjournment until September 4, 2018, or later, of any matter involving a marijuana-related offense pending in municipal court.”

DUI and DWI Due to Marijuana in New Jersey

Grewal’s Letter is short and does not specifically address the issue of marijuana intoxication and intoxicated driving. More importantly, the letter does not ask police departments to suspend arrests for marijuana related offenses. That means it is highly likely that that the new policy will not affect charges for driving under the influence of weed or driving while high as the result of consuming something with THC – the active ingredient in marijuana. Moreover, you can still be arrested and charged with possession before September.

Therefore, if you are pulled over and a police officer sees marijuana or smoking related paraphernalia, this could still cause the police officer to reasonably suspect you have been driving high. This could lead to additional tests, like a roadside sobriety test to determine if you are intoxicated, impaired, or illegally operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana.

This notice is meant to alert all readers that the state’s position regarding legalizing marijuana – as well as the suspension on prosecution – should not change the state’s approach to prosecuting DUI or DWI due to marijuana. Similar to other states where marijuana has been legalized, the substance will be treated similarly to alcohol: while you will be permitted to use marijuana or alcohol recreationally, you will not be allowed to drive drunk or drive high.

New Jersey Intoxicated Driving Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Keeps You Informed About Marijuana and Driving

If you or someone you know is ever pulled over, arrested and/or charged with intoxicated driving, you should contact a good lawyer as fast as you can. A lawyer’s knowledge and experience really matter and can affect the charges brought against you, the punishment you receive, and can even get the case dropped or dismissed completely. 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 Case on License Suspension – Certain Offenses Considered Fourth Degree Crime

DUI stop with cop holding breathalyzer

As every driver should know, it is illegal to drive drunk in New Jersey. The specific law that prohibits driving while intoxicated is N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. In New Jersey, you are also required to submit to a breathalyzer test if you are pulled over and the police officer has a reasonable suspicion to believe that you have been driving drunk. Violating the breathalyzer requirement law is known as Refusal to Take a Breath Test – or just refusal – and it is detailed in N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2.

If you are convicted under either of these laws, you can be sentenced to several penalties including severe fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges. When your license is revoked, you are completely prohibited from driving: you cannot drive to work, you cannot drive to school, you cannot drive to the store, you cannot even drive to get medical treatment or attend doctor’s appointments — New Jersey does not allow for any temporary, provisional or “work” licenses.

Under the recent case of State v. Dougherty, which was passed by the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division earlier this month, the Court made it clear that a driver commits a crime of the 4th degree if he or she operates a motor vehicle during a period of license suspension for a second or subsequent violation of the previously mentioned laws. Until this case, it was not clear whether both former violations had to be of the same law – both DWIs or both refusals – or whether they could be different. Dougherty confirms that both former violations do not need to be the same, which could mean even greater penalties for anyone found driving with a suspended license.

State v. Dougherty

In Dougherty, the defendant was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license. At the time he was pulled over, he had one prior conviction for DUI and one prior conviction for refusal, and his license was still suspended as a result of the refusal.

Based on this, he was convicted of driving with a restricted license under N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b), “Operating motor vehicle during period of license suspension,” which makes it a crime of the fourth degree to operate a motor vehicle with a suspended license when the suspension was the result of a second or subsequent conviction for driving while intoxicated or refusal. This is important, because driving with a restricted license based on a first offense is not considered as serious a crime (but will still result in jail time). Since this was the defendant’s second period of license suspension, the law stated that the court was required to impose a mandatory sentence of 180 days and the defendant would not be eligible for parole. This sentence is required and cannot be lessened or bargained against.

A fourth-degree crime is also considered a serious crime under the law – as compared to a traffic offense, misdemeanor, or disorderly persons crime – and will be listed on a person’s permanent record as a violation of a major crime. This could more seriously affect the driver’s future ability to gain employment or apply for certain positions based on the person’s criminal history.

Taken all together, driving on a restricted license as the result of a second DWI/DUI conviction and/or a second refusal conviction could elevate the violation from a quasi-criminal proceeding to a full 4th degree criminal proceeding, including indictment, heightened penalties, and increased jail time. For that reason, if you or anyone you know has been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunk driving or refusal, it is important to contact a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible. A good lawyer will be able to review your case as well as your history and present any applicable defense on your behalf including appealing past convictions.

New Jersey Refusal Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Is Prepared to Defend Against the Serious Charges You’re Facing

A conviction for refusal or drunk driving can mean serious penalties – jail time, heavy fines, and loss of license at a minimum. Driving with a suspended license can mean even more consequences. If you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence or refusal, it is important to have a lawyer who knows how to help. A good attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 1-732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

A DUI or DWI Could Affect Your Custody or Family Court Proceedings

Arrested for drink-driving

If you or someone you know is arrested, charged, or convicted of a DUI/DWI offense, the penalties under the intoxicated operation laws are already severe: heavy fines, loss of driving privileges, and even potential jail time. For many people, loss of driving privileges could mean losing the ability to work or care for family members or loved ones.

For some people, however, a potential conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could result in even more significant losses – including losing custody rights or rights in a family court agreement. If you or someone you know has been charged with intoxicated driving and is engaged in divorce or family court proceedings, either now or in the future, it is important to find an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible. A good defense with the help of an experienced lawyer could mean the difference between keeping custody or losing the ability to see your family or loved ones.

N.J. Div. of Child Protection and Permanency v. T.S.

A recent decision in the case of N.J. Div. of Child Protection and Permanency v. T.S. highlights how a conviction for driving while intoxicated could have a legal effect on seemingly unrelated matters. In the case, a panel of judges for the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, considered a situation in which a woman was arrested for drunk driving and was found to have a blood alcohol content of .19% – more than double the legal limit of .08%. At the time, she also had two minors in the car, her niece and her daughter. She also had another niece and daughter at home who were not in the vehicle.

The Appellate Division decided that the facts presented in the drunk driving matter could be used to support an emergency Dodd removal – meaning the driver immediately lost custody of the children as a result of the arrest. Moreover, the driver lost custody of the other children in her care, even though they were not in the vehicle at the time. All the children were placed temporarily with other caretakers pending the results of the drunk driving proceedings and any substance abuse counseling and treatment she had to attend afterwards. The woman never regained custody of her nieces.

Although no one was injured as a result of the driver’s actions, the woman was also charged with abuse or neglect in violation of N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(c)(4)(b) as to her daughter. The Court upheld the charge and noted that the focus in an abuse-or-neglect fact-finding must be on the potential for harm or risk of harm to children at the time, regardless of how sorry or cooperative she was after the fact. Based on the Court’s opinion, it is possible that anyone convicted of a DUI or DWI with a child in the car could also be found guilty of abuse or neglect.

How Else Can a DUI/DWI Impact a Family Court or Custody Proceeding?

In addition to losing temporary or permanent custody of a child and receiving additional child endangerment charges as the result of a drunk driving arrest, it is possible that the facts alleged in a DUI or DWI proceeding could be used against you in Family Court proceedings. If you are convicted of drunk driving, a Family Court judge may believe that you are unfit to have custody or visitation rights with your children. Similarly, if you lost your driving privileges as the result of a conviction, you may not have any way to see your children or care for them, even if the Court determines that you have visitation rights.

Taken all together, it is clear that what happens in quasi-criminal DUI or DWI proceedings could result in unexpected penalties for the driver, especially as it relates to his or her family. For that reason, it is important to present the best defense in any drunk driving case and consult a lawyer as soon as you can.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Understands that a Drunk Driving Conviction Has Far-reaching Effects

A conviction on DWI/DUI charges can mean serious penalties – jail time, heavy fines, and loss of license at a minimum. Many drivers can face additional consequences – including issues that can result in custody or child visitation rights. If you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence, it is important to have a lawyer who knows how to help. A good attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 1-732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

New Marijuana Search Case, State v. Mendel

Marijuana arrest

In a new case decide earlier this month, the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that a police officer did nothing wrong after sticking his head inside of an open car window while speaking to the driver, even if this allowed him to discover evidence of marijuana usage inside. In doing so, he did not violate the 4th Amendment rules regarding search and seizures. Typically, a police officer would need reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed before he can conduct a search. However, the police officer in this case only put his head in the window because he could not hear the driver over the noise of traffic.

This is important because evidence obtained in a search could lead to charges for driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs – if a police officer observes drugs or signs of drug use in a vehicle, the officer might believe that the driver is intoxicated while driving. With the laws in New Jersey changing to make it easier to obtain legal marijuana in the future, this is an extremely important development, as the number of drivers who may be driving in possession of marijuana is expected to go up, and this could lead to police bring DUI charges against drivers more easily.

State v. Stephen Mendel

In State v. Stephen Mendel, a police officer pulled a vehicle over after observing it drive by with dark tinted windows. The police officer came up on the passenger side of the vehicle to talk with the driver. The officer asked the driver to produce his driver’s license and inquired about his driving record. During the conversation, the police officer leaned his head into the open passenger side window in order to hear better. While speaking to defendant, he smelled the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle.

The defendant-driver argued that police officer’s actions should be considered a warrantless search, and the search was unreasonable, which would mean that the evidence was inadmissible and had to be thrown out of the case. The New Jersey Appellate Division decided that a driver does have a legitimate expectation of privacy on the interior of his vehicle. However, even if this is considered a search, the 4th Amendment only protects from unreasonable search and seizures. Because the officer’s act of putting his head inside the vehicle to hear better was still reasonable, the evidence could be admitted as part of the case.

The driver was charged with the disorderly persons offense of marijuana possession, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4), and improper safety glass, N.J.S.A. 39:3-75.

State v. Bealor

Although the driver in State v. Stephen Mendel was not charged with DUI or DWI, it is possible that these same circumstances could lead to more drivers being charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in the future. In State v. Bealor, a case from 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court determined that the government can use circumstantial evidence to determine that a driver is operating a vehicle while intoxicated due to marijuana. Proofs in the Bealor case included the smell of burnt marijuana on defendant. Therefore, based on these two cases, police officers may be more likely to bring charges for DUI in the future, if the Courts are more willing to consider these kinds of searches as reasonable.

How an Attorney Can Help

If you or someone you know is charged with DUI or DWI as the result of drugs or alcohol, the circumstances surrounding the arrest and charges will be very important. A good attorney will analyze every aspect of the facts in your case in order to determine if the police officers acted legally and responsibly in bringing the charges against you. If an officer does violate the 4th Amendment and commits an unreasonable search and seizure, or otherwise investigates you in a way that is not allowed by the law, any evidence obtained could be excluded from the case. For instance, observations that lead to a charge for drunk driving or driving under the influence could be deemed inadmissible. This could lead to the charges against you being thrown out or dismissed completely.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Will Fight to Protect Your Rights

If you or someone you know has been arrested, charged, or convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you need a good lawyer to review the case. An experienced attorney will be able to review the facts and decide if any of your rights have been violated or if you’re entitled to a dismissal. A good lawyer 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.