How Your Driving Record Can Affect Your Employment as a Bus Driver Under “Miranda’s Law”

Miranda's Law

As we have frequently discussed on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, a conviction for drunk driving is something that can become part of your permanent record. Unlike in some other states, there is no way to expunge, dismiss, clear, or hide a past DUI or DWI conviction on your record in New Jersey. Even though you can expunge certain disorderly persons or even indictable crimes from your record after a period of years, there is no means to do so for a drunk driving, drugged driving, or driving while high conviction in this state, because the DWI statute is governed by a completely different section of the law than standard crimes.

When it comes time to apply for a new job, this means that any past conviction could easily come back to haunt you. A new bill based on a New Jersey incident seeks to add bus driver to the list of jobs that may be impossible to get if you’ve ever gotten a DUI, DWI, or Refusal conviction anywhere in the country.

“Miranda’s Law”

In May of 2018, 10-year-old Miranda Vargas, of East Brook Middle School in Paramus, and her teacher were killed in a collision with a dump truck on Interstate 80 in Mt. Olive, NJ. The crash occurred when the driver made an illegal U-turn on the highway, and was broadsided by a dump truck as a result. The crash made headlines, when it was discovered that the bus driver had had his driver’s license suspended 14 times since 1975, most recently from December 2017 to January 2018.

Since then, local and federal have worked to create a new law – the Miranda Vargas School Bus Driver Red Flag law or “Miranda’s Law” – that will create a system to keep unsafe individuals from driving a school bus.

Currently, many school districts run background checks on drivers before they are hired, but these checks can be flawed in a number of ways. For instance, once a driver is hired, future violations will not be automatically reported, and the driver can continue in his or her employment if he or she does not self-report. “Miranda’s Law” would require automatic alerts be given to school districts and bus companies with 24 hours of any violation by a driver, in order for the driver to be suspended and taken off the road.

What This Means If You Are or Intend to be a Bus Driver

If “Miranda’s Law” becomes law, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) could implement a nationwide employer notification service, and employers would automatically be notified in real-time when a bus driver’s license status changes because he or she received a moving violation or had his or her license suspended or revoked, for instance, due to receiving a DUI or DWI.

Based on this, it could mean that if you receive or have ever received a drunk driving, drugged driving, or driving while high conviction or conviction for refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test, you will be unable to get a job as a bus driver or transporting children in the future. Furthermore, because the reporting requirements are nationwide, a DUI/DWI in New Jersey could affect your job prospects in another state even if you move – and a license suspension in another state will be reported to any employer or school district in New Jersey.

Accordingly, 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. For
many public employees, such as bus drivers, a DUI or DWI conviction can have long-standing consequences, becoming an issue that could cost the driver a job, a promotion, raise, or
eligibility in the future.

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

The penalties for drunk driving are severe. It can affect your ability to work and earn a living for your family and loved ones. 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.

Suspended License Jail Terms Must be Served Continuously

Man in jail cellAs previously discussed, if you are convicted of drunk driving, drugged driving, or driving high in New Jersey, one of the most serious penalties you can face is having your license suspended.  If you are subsequently convicted for driving with a suspended or revoked license, it becomes a felony offense and the Court will sentence you to jail.  This sentence could be 180 days or more!  Also, when you serve this 180-day jail sentence, there is absolutely no parole under the law.

In the past, some judges have chosen to be lenient or forgiving to defendants by letting them serve these terms intermittently, meaning that the jail sentence could be served just on certain weeknights or on weekends with breaks in between.  In the recent case of State v. Rodriguez, decided at the end of May, the New Jersey Supreme Court made it very clear that this kind of intermittent service was no longer allowed.

Intermittent Service of a Jail Term

In certain cases, New Jersey law allows a judge to issue a sentence with certain considerations, like being permitted to just serve time in jail at night or on weekends so that the defendant can continue to work and provide for his or her family or participate in training or educational programs.  Under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-2(b)(7), a judge is permitted to break up a jail term, as long as the defendant serves his or her entire sentence.  This is because periodic release during an intermittent sentence does not reduce the total time of confinement but only interrupts the days of custody.

State v. Rodriguez

In State v. Rodriguez, the Supreme Court considered five different defendants in a consolidated matter.  In all of those cases, defendants had previous DUIs/DWIs and had their licenses revoked.  They were subsequently arrested and convicted of driving on a suspended license, resulting in 180-day jail terms under N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26.  During sentencing, the trial court judge allowed three of the defendants to serve their jail sentences on the weekends, while two others served their sentences four nights per week.

State prosecutors appealed the trial judge’s decision and argued that intermittent sentencing was forbidden by the law for defendants convicted of driving with a suspended license.  The defendants countered, arguing that intermittent release for driving on a suspended license is no different than how it could be applied for any other crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-2(b)(7), pursuant to the judge’s discretion.  The defendants also argued that periodic service was not barred under the prohibition against early release or parole, since defendants were still required to serve all 180 days of the prison term.

The Supreme Court ultimately sided with the state prosecutors, deciding that the Drunk Driving Suspended License law requires a convicted defendant to serve his entire sentence in one continuous period.  Ultimately, this makes the penalties for drunk driving and driving on a restricted license even stricter, and makes it even more important for you to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible if you or someone you know gets arrested, charged, or convicted of DUI, DWI or driving on a restricted license.

New Jersey Defense Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help If You’ve Been Caught Driving With a Suspended or Restricted License

If you or someone you know is arrested, charged, or convicted of driving on a restricted license as the result of a DWI or refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test, the consequences are dire.  You won’t want just any attorney to represent you.  An experienced DUI/DWI 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.

Your Case Could Be Dismissed if You’ve Been Arrested or Charged with DUI or DWI Due to Drugs

Woman pulled over by policeAs we have frequently discussed here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, you can be arrested, charged, or convicted of driving while intoxicated as the result of drugs or marijuana in the same way you can be charged for drunk driving.  New Jersey’s DUI and DWI laws include any form of intoxication – even from prescription medications or other legal drugs.

At the same time, as we have also discussed before on the Edward M. Janzekovich DUI/DWI blog, there are few, if any, reliable methods of testing for drug intoxication.  Unlike drunk driving, which can be tested with a state mandated and prescribed breathalyzer test that follows strict rules, there are no magic tests that can detect drugged driving or current intoxication due to marijuana or other drugs.

Accordingly, the government is often forced to rely on a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to determine if someone is actually legally impaired after he or she has been arrested.  The state must then use circumstantial or observational evidence – as opposed to scientific evidence – to support their case that the driver was actually intoxicated AT THE TIME that he or she was operating the vehicle.  This type of evidence can be extremely unreliable.  A good attorney will know how to attack and defend against any use of this evidence.  In the end, a good attorney may even be able to get the case dismissed completely.

Many believe that the work of good attorneys in pointing out the flaws in prosecuting drugged driving cases is leading to more and more DUI/DWI cases being dismissed every year.

Why Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) are Unreliable

Since there is currently no technology that would allow a police officer to quickly determine whether or not a driver has been driving under the influence of many drugs, local police departments must rely on DREs.  According to recent statistic, New Jersey has more than 500 drug recognition experts— more than any other state except California.

A DRE is a police officer who has special training in identifying if someone is intoxicated or impaired.  No blood, urine, or breath tests are involved.  The DRE may also receive training to determine what kind of drugs the person is on.

Since DREs rely on mostly subjective observations, their abilities are increasingly being called into question. Some of the things a DRE looks for may include droopy eyelids, dilated pupils, a racing pulse, red eyes, or slowed involuntary responses to stimuli.  However, no two DREs are exactly the same.  What one DRE might think is slow may not be considered slow by another DRE.

For example, one part of the DRE standard evaluation includes observations regarding muscle tone – whether a driver’s muscles appear loose, tight, rigid, or flaccid.  Defense attorneys and experts have called into question this test, because there is no clear distinction between these muscle states and any differences in muscle tone can be caused by more than drugs.

Challenges in Court Have Resulted in Dismissals

For the reasons stated above, as well as for many other reasons, the reliability of DREs is being called into question – in New Jersey courts and in other places around the country.  As previously discussed on this blog, there has even been a federal court case challenging the reliability of DREs.  Many defendants have been wrongfully accused of driving under the influence of drugs, based on DRE evidence, even though subsequent blood tests showed no drugs in the system whatsoever.

Accordingly, if you or someone you know is ever arrested or charged with drugged driving, you have a constitutional right to challenge the evidence against you.  A good lawyer will be able to review the circumstances of your case and determine if the police officers acted appropriately, including whether a DRE’s testimony is reliable.  A good attorney may be able to have your case dismissed or thrown out of court completely.

New Jersey Drugged Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Will Fight for Your Rights

In order to win its case, the police and prosecutor must be able to prove that you took drugs or alcohol AND that the drugs or alcohol actually impaired your ability to drive when you were actually behind the wheel.  If you or someone you know is charged with DUI or DWI, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney right away.  A good lawyer can present the best defense in your case and 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.

Suspended License Exception and Hardship Licenses in New Jersey for Medical, Work or Familial Reasons

A form from the DMV suspending a driver's license.

As you probably know, if you are convicted of drunk driving in this state, one of the harshest penalties you could face is losing your license. First time offenders can lose their license for 3 months or more, while repeat offenders can lose their license for up to 10 years! During that time, you cannot drive yourself to work, you cannot drive to the store to get groceries, you cannot even drive to provide for your family members.

Here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we have previously discussed that there are NO EXCEPTIONS in the Garden State for drivers who have had their license suspended or revoked – no matter what the circumstances. A person who has lost his or her license in New Jersey CANNOT legally drive for any reason, and getting caught driving with a suspended license can make things even worse! Recent legislation being considered may offer a small exception to this rule, but it is unlikely to apply in all circumstances.

Hardship Licenses in New Jersey

First, as noted above, New Jersey does not currently offer a suspended license exception. In some other states, a special restricted license exists for persons who have had their driving privileges revoked – usually referred to as a hardship license. A hardship license can allow drivers to get to work and back, or to go to medical appointments, or to care for children.

In New Jersey, a person can lose his or her license for many reasons, including amassing too many parking tickets. The minimum license suspension period is 3 months for anyone convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, depending on a drivers’ blood alcohol content at the time of the arrest.

Since New Jersey does not have a hardship license exception, someone who loses his or her license may need to depend on others in order to continue to work or provide for his or her family. This may require having a family or friend do the driving, carpooling with coworkers, or using expensive services like Uber or Lyft.

Even when a driver’s period of license suspension is over, the person cannot drive until he or she takes all the necessary steps to have the license restored.

Proposed Hardship License Legislation

Last year, Ocean County Assemblyman Ron Dancer introduced legislation seeking to create a special license option for drivers with a suspended license. This occurred based on a recommendation from the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee Report on Municipal Operations, Fines, and Fees last summer.
Since introduction, this issue has been discussed in the media and has faced some opposition. Similar legislation has been proposed before, but was not successful at the time. It is unclear if this proposal stands a better chance of success now.

As proposed, the bill would not create an exception for all persons. Only persons with non-point suspensions would be considered for a hardship license – such as persons who lost their license for unpaid parking tickets. The special license holders would be permitted to drive between home and work or school between specific hours. Anyone who received a restricted license as the result of DUI or DWI would not be eligible.

For that reason, if you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving, it is best to first consult with an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible to fight the charges against you. If you lose your license due to a drunk driving conviction, there is no exception for your suspension penalty in New Jersey.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Understands What is At Stake if You are Convicted

If you are found guilty of drunk driving in the Garden State, the penalties can affect your ability to work and provide for your family or loved ones. If you or someone you know is charged with DUI or DWI, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney right away. 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.

Immigration Enforcement and 123 Person ICE Arrest Update Related to Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Police car on the street

Here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we regularly warn our readers that an arrest or conviction for driving while intoxicated can carry extremely heavy consequences that extend beyond monetary fines, loss of driving privileges, or jail time.  Depending on who you are, if you are convicted, it could mean losing your job, losing future employment opportunities, or even losing your ability to be with your loved ones.

As previously discussed here on the law blog, another exceptional consequence that may affect some individuals is the risk of deportation.  Last month, reports indicated that United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in New Jersey arrested 123 individuals after targeting persons with prior arrests or convictions for DUI or DWI.

123 Foreign Nationals Arrested by ICE in New Jersey in April

In April, 123 foreign nationals were arrested by ICE by the federal immigration agents of the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Newark Field Office.  This was the culmination of  a month-long operation.  90% of the individuals arrested had prior criminal convictions and/or pending criminal charges.

Government officials investigated people who were arrested on criminal and quasi-criminal charges in New Jersey courts – many of these included charges for driving while intoxicated as the result of alcohol or drugs.  Once someone is convicted of a quasi-crime like drunk driving, their immigration status becomes part of the public record and can be used to locate the person. ICE officials were able to target, arrest, and schedule individuals for deportation after these persons were identified in public court proceedings.

Notably, some of these immigration arrests were related to pending criminal charges, which means that the individuals were not yet even convicted of the alleged crimes.  The immigration arrests came regardless of if the person was found innocent of the charge.

Statistics show that the persons arrested by ICE were citizens of multiple other countries including Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Spain, and Trinidad.  These persons were originally arrested in 14 of the 21 counties across the state, including: Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, and Union County.  One person was also arrested in Pennsylvania.

This is not the first time that this has happened.  As discussed previously on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, similar arrests were made last summer, when 37 persons were arrested by ICE and ERO officials.

A DUI Arrest Can Affect Immigrants and Lead to Deportation

A conviction for driving under the influence will become part of your permanent record, unless it is successfully appealed or dismissed.  Typically, anyone who is convicted will face penalties such as fines, loss of driving privileges, and jail time.  In certain cases, drivers may face additional consequences detailed under other parts of state or federal law.  For instance, commercial drivers (persons with a CDL) may lose their CDL privileges completely.  Others may lose their job or their right to work in public or private positions.

For non-citizens, New Jersey Courts generally warn any defendant that a conviction could also result in additional consequences such as deportation, especially for persons in violation of federal immigration laws.  Non-citizens are always advised to contact an attorney to fully discuss potential consequences.

For that reason, if you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving, 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.   In those 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.  In certain cases, an experienced drunk driving defense attorney will also work with an immigration attorney to get the best result in your situation.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich that the Penalties You Are Facing Could be Life-Changing

If you plead guilty or are found guilty of drunk driving, the consequences could change your life.  If you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney right away.  A good lawyer 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.

Actor Vince Vaughn Found Guilty After Drunk Driving Arrest at Sobriety Checkpoint

Lit up police car lights at night

Well-known Hollywood celebrity, actor, and comedian, Vince Vaughn, was convicted on charges of reckless driving this week, stemming from his arrest for at a DUI checkpoint in Manhattan Beach, California last June.  Because the arrest occurred in California, Mr. Vaughn’s attorney was able to negotiate a plea deal on his behalf to reduced charges and no jail time.  The arrest occurred after Mr. Vaughn was stopped at a DUI check point, also known as a sobriety checkpoint.

If the arrest had occurred in New Jersey, Mr. Vaughn would have likely been subject to increased charges and consequences.  This news comes at a particularly relevant time as some Central Jersey and North Jersey towns and counties are preparing to increase DWI checkpoint usage.

Vince Vaughn’s Arrest

Vince Vaughn is an American actor, producer, screenwriter, and comedian who is most well-known for his roles in the films Old School, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, and Wedding Crashers, as well as in the second season of the HBO series True Detective.

Last June, Vaughn was pulled over a DUI checkpoint in Manhattan Beach, California at 4 a.m.  Reports indicated that, at the time of the arrest, Mr. Vaughn refused to exit his vehicle repeatedly when asked to do so.  When he finally did exit the vehicle, he reportedly failed a sobriety test and a subsequent blood alcohol test.

Vaughn originally faced serious charges for driving under the influence.  His attorney was able to negotiate a plea on his behalf and he plead “no contest” to alcohol-related reckless driving with three years of probation and attendance in a three-month program.

New Jersey Checkpoints

In New Jersey, police officers are permitted to establish sobriety checkpoints as long as the checkpoint was created based on certain legal requirements, including that the checkpoint must be clearly identified and publicly identified.  Cars must be randomly or neutrally selected for stops and inspection (meaning all cars must be stopped or every third car must be stopped, but police officers cannot single out certain vehicles).  Once a car is stopped, the length of the stop must be reasonable.

Unlike a traffic stop, police officers do not need reasonable suspicion to stop a car at a DUI checkpoint.

However, a police officer will still need consent or probably cause to further detain or search a vehicle beyond a preliminary stop and investigation.  That means that a driver must consent to have his or her vehicle searched, or the officer will need to have seen signs of intoxication.

South Brunswick and Middlesex County Checkpoints

The South Brunswick Police Department and Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office have already indicated that officers in these areas will increase drunk driving patrol efforts over the following weeks, in light of prom and graduation season.  Without a doubt, other counties and police departments across the state will follow suit as summer draws near.

One of the tools used by these law enforcement agencies will be DWI checks.  The South Brunswick Police have indicated that they will even begin to place these on major roadways like Rt. 1.  Since the beginning of 2019, South Brunswick Township reports show that 32 people were arrested for driving while impaired and eight motor vehicle crashes have been attributed to impaired driving in that town alone.

New Jersey DUI / DWI Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Can help if You’ve Been Arrested

Here at the Edward M. Janzekovich law offices, we know that an arrest for drunk driving could change your life.  If you or someone you know has been charged, arrested, or convicted of DUI or DWI related to drugs or alcohol, it is important to have an experienced attorney review your case as soon as possible.  Hiring the right 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.

The Effects of Blood Alcohol Concentration

An alcoholic drink and car keys

Alcohol functions by slowing down the body, including slowing down the function of the brain, how the brain thinks, and how the body reacts.  As a person drinks, alcohol is absorbed into the body and into the blood, increasing blood alcohol concentration or BAC.  BAC is measured by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood. As BAC increases, the negative effects of the blood in slowing down the body and reaction times also increases.  As previously discussed on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, the legal limit in New Jersey and across the country for BAC is .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter (g/dL) of blood or .08%.

However, .08% is not a magic number that marks the border between intoxication and sobriety.  It is just an arbitrary number set by legislators.  What this means is that a person can appear drunk before he or she has a BAC of .08%.  In fact, for this very reason, the legal BAC used to be higher at .10%., and it was recently reduced to .05% in Utah.  Other states, such as California, are also considering reducing the legal limit.  On the other hand, many people appear perfectly fine with a BAC over .08% and you cannot tell that they would be legally drunk.

What this means is that every person is different, and alcohol will affect every person differently.  A recent report by the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) attempts to discuss and define how people will act depending on their current BAC.  However, these descriptions are just based on averages.  Again, a person may act more or less intoxicated than described in the report.

The Effects of Blood Alcohol Concentration

Although every person is different, all people can be affected by alcohol in sufficient quantities – and the higher the amount of alcohol in the blood, the more noticeable the effects.

BACTypical EffectsPredictable Effects on Driving
.02Some loss of judgment; relaxation, slight body warmth, altered moodDecline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target), decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention)
.05Exaggerated behavior, may have loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes), impaired judgment, usually good feeling, lowered alertness, release of inhibitionReduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, reduced response to emergency driving situations
.08Muscle coordination becomes poor (e.g., balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing), harder to detect danger; judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impairedConcentration, short-term memory loss, speed control, reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search), impaired perception
.10Clear deterioration of reaction time and control, slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinkingReduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately
.15Far less muscle control than normal, vomiting may occur (unless this level is reached slowly or a person has developed a tolerance for alcohol), major loss of balanceSubstantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing

Why Timing is Important – And Why It Is So Difficult to Estimate BAC

Unfortunately, this chart may not help you decide whether or not you are too drunk to drive or whether or not you can drive legally.  First, alcohol does not enter the blood stream and take effect immediately.  If you drink a shot or two of hard liquor, you won’t immediately feel its effects.  If you get in a car and drive right away, you may become slowly more intoxicated after you start driving.  If you are pulled over, you will continue to get more drunk as you are tested, and you may be actually register as even more intoxicated when you take a breathalyzer test than when you were actually driving.  Second, because every person handles alcohol differently, you may not feel the effects of alcohol at all, even if you are over the legal limit.  This won’t matter under the law.  If you are tested and your BAC is over .08%, it is considered a per se violation, meaning you can be convicted of drunk driving even if your reaction time is perfect.

NJ Driving While Drunk Defense Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if You’ve Been Charged

If you or someone you know is arrested, charged, or convicted of drunk driving, you will need to contact a seasoned DUI or DWI defense attorney immediately.  A good lawyer understands how alcohol works and affects people differently.  An experienced attorney will be able to use this information to present the best defense in your case.  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 in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.

College Drinking and Restrictions at One New Jersey College

Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drunk driving amongst high school and college students under the age of 21 has decreased since the early 1990’s, national reports still consider college drinking to be a serious problem.  In particular, DUI and DWI amongst college students continues to be a serious cause of death and injury and can lead to many other life-altering consequences a permanent quasi-criminal record or loss of future job prospects.

A recent tragedy linked to drinking and driving at the College of New Jersey (TCNJ) highlighted these concerns.  One student died and multiple were injured – and this has also led the institution reconsidering its policies regarding on-campus drinking establishments.

College Drinking Statistics

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that almost 60 percent of college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month, and almost 2/3rds of those engaged in binge drinking during that same time-frame. Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL or .08%, which is the national legal limit for drunk driving.  This means that 40% of 18-22 year old college students have drank enough alcohol in one sitting to be legally convicted of drunk driving in the last month if they had also operated a motor vehicle at the same time.

Drinking at The College of New Jersey

On December 2, 2018, two vehicles including eight students were involved in a head-on collision near TCNJ.  One student died, while seven others suffered injuries including severe injuries.  One of the drivers was subsequently charged with drunk driving, seven counts of assault by auto and one count of vehicular homicide.

Subsequently, it was determined that the driver originally departed the Landmark Americana Tap & Grill in Ewing, New Jersey, earlier in the night. The Landmark is currently located on property owned by the university in an area known as “Campustown.”  The New Jersey Division of Alcohol and Business Control and Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal believe that the Landmark’s popularity amongst students, as well as some of its menu items and specials may be contributing to drunk driving and unsafe driving practices. In order to be allowed to continue doing business there, a temporary authorization permit was issued by the state and agreed to by owners of the Landmark.  Under the new rules, the Landmark will stop serving alcohol at 11 pm Thursday through Saturday and at 9:15 pm the rest of the week; discontinue selling mixed-drink “fishbowls,” pitchers and buckets of beer that reduce the bar’s ability to control consumption, and adhere to other rules addressing consumption speed and security.  The goal is to discontinue any business practices that might otherwise contribute to binge drinking.

Why College Drinking is So Serious

Many college students are living away form home for the first time when they go to college.  Furthermore, many college students have had little to no exposure to alcohol before.  Finally, alcohol can often be easily obtained in college settings These factors combine to allow for irresponsible drinking practices and often does lead to drinking and driving.

Unfortunately, the consequences for drinking and driving are no less serious for first time drinkers or college students.  Drinking and driving can cause injury or death at any age.  If you are under the legal drinking age of 21 and are arrested with any alcohol in your blood, the fines and consequences are even more serious.  As previously covered on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, a DUI/DWI conviction becomes part of your permanent record.  It will result in significant fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges.  As a college student, a drunk driving conviction can also affect your future job prospects, your ability to get an internship, work, apply for jobs, or even travel out of the country.  For these reasons, if you or someone you know is arrested, charged, or convicted of drunk driving, it is important to talk to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

NJ Driving While High Defense Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if You’ve Been Charged

The penalties for drunk driving can affect you for the rest of your life.  When it comes to underage drivers or students in college, the consequences can be even more severe.  If you or someone you know is arrested, charged, or convicted of drunk driving, a good lawyer can make all the difference.   To speak with an experienced New Jersey DUI 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.

Drinking in a Parked Vehicle and the Glove Box Defense

Drunk Driver being pulled over by police copsIt is common knowledge that it is illegal to drive while intoxicated in New Jersey.  However, in order to be convicted, a state prosecutor must prove that a driver actually operated the vehicle while he or she was intoxicated, not before he or she got drunk.  Therefore, a defendant should not be charged for being intoxicated in a parked car if there is no proof that he or she drove the vehicle after becoming drunk.   Nonetheless, defendants are charged on a regular basis with DUI or DWI, despite never driving drunk, because the police officer discovered the driver drinking or sleeping in a parked vehicle.

If you, or someone you know, is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after drinking in a parked vehicle, contact an attorney as soon as possible.  You may be entitled to something known as the “glove box” defense.  Based on this defense, a driver may be able to demonstrate that he or she is not guilty if he or she can show that consumption of alcohol occurred after the vehicle was parked.  This is a complicated defense, however, and it will be very difficult to assert your innocence without an attorney who understands all of the factors involved with asserting the defense and is willing to convince a Court that the defense applies.

State v. Snyder, 337 N.J. Super. 59, 61 (App. Div. 2001).

The “glove box” defense is most popularly associated with the case of State v. Snyder, a 2001 case from the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division.  It has been revisited on several occasions, including most recently in State v. Langan, in 2016.

According to Snyder, in establishing the “glove box” defense, there are several important factors.

  1. Whether or not he or she drank at some location prior to drinking in the parked vehicle.
  2. Whether or not he or she was driving erratically prior to parking the vehicle.
  3. Whether or not he or she can prove that drinking occurred in the vehicle, including that he or she had access to alcohol while in the vehicle.
  4. How long the vehicle had been parked.

The first factor is important because evidence of drinking somewhere else before parking the vehicle could establish that the driver drove drunk before parking.

The second factor could be considered evidence of drunk driving, particularly if a police officer, witness, or camera captures erratic driving or an accident.

The third factor is important because a driver cannot take advantage of the “glove box” defense if he or she cannot demonstrate access to a source of alcohol in the parked vehicle.

The fourth and final factor is important to showing how much time the driver had to drink and become intoxicated while in the parked vehicle.

NJ Drunk Driving Defense Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Determine What Defenses Exist in Your Case

Defending against charges for driving while intoxicated is not easy.  An experienced attorney will be able to determine what defenses do and do not apply in your case, as well as what evidence you need to prove that defense.  Convincing a court that a defense applies can be extremely complicated.  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 in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.

New Jersey Vote to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Delayed, as well as the Draeger DrugTest 5000

New Jersey Vote to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Delayed

In a surprise turn of events, New Jersey state legislators took action to cancel and postpone its vote to legalize recreational marijuana today.  Most news agencies reported that legalization was likely to occur, particularly after two legislative committees – the Assembly Appropriations Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee — approved cannabis legalization bills last week that would have made legalization possible.  Moreover, as we previously discussed on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, Governor Murphy and Senate President Stephen Sweeney reached an agreement regarding how marijuana sales could be taxed if cannabis were legalized.

Any debate about taxations schemes are moot for the immediate future, however, now that the vote has been delayed.  Although leading lawmakers apparently agreed on the terms of the proposed law, there ultimately was insufficient support to pass the bill.  Knowing that the legislation would fail, legislators chose, instead, to pull any formal votes on the law from the congressional agenda.

Despite this setback to legalization of recreational cannabis in the state, popular support for marijuana continues to grow.  According to a poll taken by Monmouth University last month, 62% adults in the state support legalization of recreational marijuana, and 68% believe legalization could be a benefit to the state’s economy.

Driving While High, Get a DUI

For the time being, driving while high is still illegal.  If marijuana is eventually legalized in New Jersey, every sign indicates driving under the influence of THC, the intoxicating compound in marijuana, will continue to be illegal.  In either case, if you are convicted of driving while intoxicated due to marijuana, you will face significant fines, loss of driving privileges, and possible jail time.

How You Might Be Prosecuted for Driving High in the Future

One thing that might change if marijuana is ever legalized in this state, however, is that New Jersey may implement new methods or devices to detect marijuana intoxication.  Currently, it is illegal to driving drunk in the Garden State, and most people know that the legal alcohol limit is .08% BAC or blood alcohol concentration.  What many people do not know is that there is still only one legal breathalyzer machine that may be used in the state, the Draeger Alcotest 7110.  It is the only make and model of the machine that may be used to prove breath alcohol content in this state, even though there are other machines and models that can and are used in other states.

In the future, New Jersey may choose to adopt a similar machine to test marijuana intoxication.  In Canada, one such government approved device is the Draeger DrugTest 5000.  According to the company’s own website, the Draeger DrugTest 5000 tests a person’s saliva sample quickly in order to identify for drugs like amphetamines, designer drugs, opiates, cocaine and metabolites, benzodiazepines, methadone, and cannabinoids (meaning marijuana and marijuana related products).  If such a machine is ever used in New Jersey, you can guarantee that there will be challenges to its reliability and effectiveness, as well as questions about what levels of drugs indicate legal intoxication.

If you or someone you know is ever charged with driving while high as the result of marijuana, THC, or any other chemical substance, it is important to get an experienced DUI and DWI attorney as soon as possible.  Only a good attorney working with an experienced expert can challenge drug intoxication evidence in many intoxicated driving cases.  It’s important to discuss the evidence against you with a trusted lawyer as soon as possible.

NJ Driving While High Defense Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Is a Lawyer You Can Trust

If marijuana is ever legalized for recreational use in this state, you can guarantee that the number of DUI and DWI cases related to THC and cannabinoids will increase.  If you or someone you know is charged, you will want an experienced attorney on your side.  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 in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.