New Jersey DUI Attorney Discusses the Elements of Refusal and the Penalties You Could Face

Close up shot of an alcohol tester

Many people do not realize that if you are pulled over in New Jersey and a police officer has probable cause to believe you have been driving drunk, you are required to submit a breathalyzer sample. The law is written in such a way that it is a condition of being allowed to drive in New Jersey. As we have discussed here in the past, in the Edward M. Janzekovich Law Blog, this requirement even surpasses your rights given under the Miranda warnings, which many people are familiar with – meaning you do not even have the right to speak to an attorney or to remain silent before submitting a breath sample at the police station.

If you fail to comply with the requirement to provide a breath sample, you can be charged and/or convicted under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4, Refusal to Take a Breath Test, which could carry equally heavy penalties to drunk driving. It is important to note that if you are pulled over, a police officer may ask you to take a roadside or portable breath test (PBT). The PBT is less accurate and refusing to submit to the PBT does not violate the Refusal law. It only counts as “Refusal to Take a Breath Test” if a driver refuses to submit to the more accurate, official breath test that occurs back at a police station.

The Elements of Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test

The offense of refusal to submit to a breath test requires the government to prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt, before you can be convicted:

  1. The arresting officer had probable cause to believe that the driver had been driving or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on the public road, street, highway or other area of the State while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  2. The driver was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
  3. The officer requested the driver to submit to a chemical breath test and informed the driver of the consequences of refusing to do so in a language the defendant can understand while sober.
  4. The defendant thereafter refused to submit to the test.

As we have discussed in the past, the State may be able to charge you with refusal even if you think you are complying with the request to submit a breath test. For instance, the requirement to “submit to the test” includes a requirement that you provide a breath sample that is large enough for the machine to test.

Accordingly, this area of law can be extremely complicated. Because a prosecutor must prove all of these elements in order to convict a driver of refusal, it is important to always contact an experienced DUI lawyer if you or someone you know if ever charged with drunk driving or related motor vehicle violations. A good attorney will be able to review the evidence against you and determine if the state can sufficiently prove all the elements of a crime against you, and will be able to present the best defense on your behalf.

Punishments for Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test

New Jersey law authorizes serious fines for all violators of the Refusal law that ranges from $300 to $500 for a first offense, $500 to $1000 for a second offense, and $1000 for a third or subsequent offense. This does not include any court fees and other applicable monetary sanctions, such as the $100 Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund surcharge. This also does not include the extra $1000 per year motor vehicle surcharge that the driver will have to pay for three years, as well as any increase in insurance premiums that the automobile insurance company will choose to add.

A convicted driver will also be required to attend an alcohol education program at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC). This program includes a fee of $75 per day for a first offender and $100 per day for subsequent offenders. Failing to attend the IDRC will result in a jail sentence, and could result in permanent administrative loss of license for subsequent offenders.

A driver can also lose his or her license for Refusing to Submit to a Breath Test. The period of license suspension is the same as if the driver had been convicted of driving while intoxicated, and ranges from seven (7) months to one (1) year for a first offense, two (2) years for second offense, and ten (10) years for a third or subsequent offense.

Finally, a driver will be required to install an ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle. This requirement ranges from six (6) months to one (1) year after the period of license suspension for first-time offender, or one (1) to three (3) years for a subsequent offender. This also will come at the driver’s own expense.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if You are Charged with Drunk Driving or Refusal

A conviction on DWI/DUI and refusal charges can mean serious penalties – jail time, heavy fines, and loss of license, that can seriously affect your ability to care and provide for yourself or your loved ones. Defending against these charges can also be very complicated. If you or someone you know is arrested for refusing to submit to a breath test, it is important to have a lawyer who knows how to help. 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 1-732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

Current Events: New Jersey Rapper, Fetty Wap, Arrested on Drunk Driving and Drag Racing Charges

A police officer holds the breath test machine for a suspect to blow into with a police car in the background.

Rapper and New Jersey native, Fetty Wap, whose legal name is Willie Maxwell, was recently arrested and charged with a slew of charges in New York City. New reports suggest that Fetty was caught speeding on the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn, around 1 a.m. in the morning, when he was pulled over. He was clearly racing another vehicle at the time, and he was likely driving around 100 miles per hour.

After being pulled over, Fetty Wap was found to be driving with an expired license. He subsequently failed a field sobriety test – which could include walking a line, standing on one foot, and performing a gaze or vision test – and was required to submit to a breathalyzer. The test revealed a blood-alcohol level of .09% – over the legal limit of .08%.

Although Fetty Wap was arrested in New York, he is well-known for being born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey.

Speeding and Other Activities That Could Lead to a DUI Investigation

The majority of the time that drivers are arrested or charged for drunk driving, the reason the driver is pulled over in the first place is because he or she committed some other motor vehicle offense. The reason Fetty Wap was required to submit to a breathalyzer test most likely stemmed from having an odor of alcohol on his breath. The police officer most likely had no idea that the rapper was beyond the legal limit of .08% BAC. Once a driver is pulled over, it becomes very easy for a police officer to observe other signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or the smell of alcohol on the breath – giving the officer sufficient reason to require the driver to submit to further sobriety tests, including an official breathalyzer test.

If you or someone you know has had anything to drink, the best advice to not get behind the wheel at all. Even if your driving is not physically impaired in any way, a police officer could still pull you over for any number of reasons. Once you are pulled over, the slightest hint of alcohol could lead to you being arrested and taken to a police station to submit to a breathalyzer test. In New Jersey, you are not allowed to refuse a breathalyzer test, if the officer had sufficient reason to believe you were intoxicated. After that, any result of .08 or higher automatically constitutes sufficient evidence – per se evidence – that could lead to a drunk driving conviction, even if your driving was never affected in the first place.

The following are a list of common things that police officers are looking for that could lead to a drunk driving arrest:

  1. Failure to obey motor vehicle laws, including speeding, failure to stop at a red light or stop sign, or failing to yield.
  2. Swerving, crossing over the yellow line in the road, or otherwise failing to maintain proper lane position.
  3. Braking irregularly or driving suspiciously slow.
  4. Driving erratically or making unusual driving decisions.

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. There are many reasons why the case against you might be improper, including the fact that you should not have been pulled over in the first place. 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 DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Will Review Your Case from Beginning to End

Every person is different and every case of driving while intoxicated is different. For that reason, it is important to get in touch with a lawyer who will treat each case specially. If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, you need an experienced DWI/DUI attorney who knows 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.

Avoid the HORROR of a DUI Charge This Halloween

Car Keys and Alcoholic Drink

When you think of Halloween, do you think of kids and candy and costumes? Or, like many adults, has Halloween also become a time for mature fun, partying, and maybe one too many drinks?

If you are part of the latter, you might not be surprised to hear that over a third of adults plan to attend a party at the end of this month, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. It is also well-known in the restaurant/bar industry that Halloween is the second-best holiday, behind only Christmas, in terms of dollars spent on drinking out.

Of course, if both the retail and food-service industries are aware of these facts, then so are the police departments and government agencies patrolling the roads to keep them safe at the end of October. Expect officers and patrolmen to be on high-alert for anyone showing signs of intoxicated driving for the rest of the month – and for good reason, too, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that more than half (51%) of all national fatalities occurring on Halloween night from 2008-2012 occurred as a result of a drunk driving-related crash.

What Nights Should You Be Most Aware Of?

This year, Halloween falls on Tuesday, October 31. For all the reasons stated above, there will be many drunk drivers on the road, particularly after the trick-or-treaters finish making their rounds. At the same time, the Friday and Saturday nights before and after the holiday are also well-known nationwide for being a particularly deadly time, because those are the nights when parties, bar crawls, and other festivities are most likely to occur. Towns and municipalities across the state will be strictly enforcing all driving laws and looking out for suspicious activity for the rest of the month, but especially on those days.

Where Will Heightened DUI and DWI Enforcement Occur?

Expect police officers to be on the look-out across the state, but especially in places where there will be many teenagers and young-adults. Bars and neighborhoods in or around where colleges will be the most likely settings for a drunk driving arrest. This is because Halloween parties that include excessive drinking are especially popular amongst young adults in their 20s and early 30s – and males ages 21-34 are the most likely demographic to be involved in a fatal, intoxication-related accident around Halloween.

Other popular locations include near any large bars or locations where a known Halloween party will be occurring. Although this might seem obvious, municipalities purposely create DUI checkpoints near known drinking establishments – in the hopes of deterring drinking and driving as well as in order to catch anyone who might be too intoxicated to drive.

What Precautions Should You Take

If you plan on going our drinking or partying this Halloween season, the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to have a plan to get home safe. If you cannot designate a reliable or sober driver, be prepared to call a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to get home. If you drive to the bar, most bars will have no problem with you leaving the car in the parking lot overnight if you are too drunk to drive home. Remember, if you are found sleeping in your car in the bar parking lot, a police officer may think that you were preparing to drive drunk, even if your plan was to sleep it off.

The most important thing to remember is that, even if you think you can get home safely, if you are pulled over or stopped at a police checkpoint with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater, or if a police officer smells alcohol on your breath and thinks you are showing visible signs of intoxication, you could lose your license, be fined, go to jail, and otherwise lose your ability to provide for you family and loved ones. These are extremely serious consequences that could affect you for a lifetime.

If you or someone you know is arrested or charged with drunk driving, you should contact an experienced lawyer immediately. A drunk driving attorney will be able to review your case and may even be able to have the charges dropped completely.

New Jersey DUI-DWI Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if You’ve Been Charged with Drunk Driving

When you or someone you know gets arrested or charged with driving while intoxicated, things could feel extremely scary. You probably won’t know what to do or even what consequences you might be facing. An experienced DUI/DWI attorney can help by reviewing your case, explaining the potential penalties, and presenting the best case in your defense. A good 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.

DUI / DWI History and What It Means for Uber and Lyft Drivers

Man with an alcoholic drink and keys in his hand next to a car.

Becoming a driver for Uber or Lyft is an increasingly common profession. Some people do it as a full-time job, while others do it to make a little extra money on the side. Either way, people are drawn to the independence and simplicity of the job – you get to decide when you work, you get to decide how much you want to work, and you even get to do it from the comfort of your own vehicle.

There is one thing a lot of would-be-drivers do not know, however. You may not be approved to become an Uber or Lyft driver if you have even one drunk driving charge or conviction on your driving history. Both Uber and Lyft have strict background check guidelines as part of the process for individuals to get approved to drive for the company.

Uber and Lyft Background Checks

When you apply to become an Uber or Lyft driver, you must consent to allow the companies to run a background check and driving record check.

Uber states that, after you fill out the basic online application, you will be asked to complete a consent form that allows Uber to use a company called Checkr to perform the background check. The background check will include your driver’s history for at least 7 to 10 years.
Lyft advertises that its background checks are also performed by a third-party and include national and county-level databases, and, when necessary, local courthouse record checks going back a minimum of seven years or more.

Your driver’s abstract will let these companies know if you have ever been convicted of any DUI or drug-related driving offense, and your application will automatically be flagged for additional review. A DUI within the last seven years can result in your rejection by either company. Both companies advertise that there are no exceptions to this rule.

Moreover, if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony DUI in any state, even if it was more than 10 years ago, this could result in your application being denied.

What About Ongoing DWI Charges or Expungements?

New Jersey does not provide for the expungement of drunk driving convictions, although some other states might. Both Uber and Lyft advertise that they conduct national background checks, so if you have ever been convicted of DUI in any state and wish to drive for one of these companies, it will be helpful to contact an attorney.

If you have a current or ongoing charge for driving while intoxicated, it is extremely important that you contact a lawyer if you hope to become a commercial driver in the future. Both Uber and Lyft state that they will consider all ongoing charges, and if you are in the middle of proceedings regarding a charge for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you can expect to have your application denied or flagged for further consideration.

At this time, your best chance to be able to drive for Uber, or keep driving, if you’re already a driver, is to win your case or have the charges against you dropped completely.

How an Attorney Can Help

Man with an alcoholic drink and keys in his hand next to a car., if you refuse to submit to a blood-alcohol test, or if you are convicted of a DUI/DWI offense in New Jersey or any other state. If you are charged with driving while intoxicated, you should always contact a lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced DWI attorney could make a world of difference.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if Your Job is On the Line Due to a Drunk Driving Charge

If you or someone you know is being charged with a DUI/DWI, knowing the potential consequences of that conviction is important. The difference between guilty and innocent could mean the difference between being able to provide for your family and loved ones or losing your right to drive. If you or someone you know is facing a DWI charge, a knowledgeable drunk driving 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.

The Jersey Shore Towns with the Most Drunk Driving Arrests

Shot glass with car keys and handcuffs

Although the summer is winding down, there are still a few weeks left to enjoy the warm weather. Labor Day is also around the corner, signifying the symbolic end of the season and a return to school for many children. As with all holidays, however, Labor Day also brings with it parties and celebrations that usually include liquor, beer, and wine. We here at the Edward M. Janzekovich Law Blog always recommend that you drink responsibly – don’t drink and drive – and be careful if you get on the road at all over the holiday weekend.

Additionally, we know that many individuals and families will be heading to the Jersey Shore over the next few weeks to enjoy a little more sun and fun before the cold weather season starts. A recent report ranked 44 Jersey Shore towns in order of the least to most DWI arrests per square mile based on data from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. This list also shows the total number of arrests over that time period.

This list is informative because it helps to show both where there are the fewest incidents of drunk driving as well as where local police departments are willing to crack down on any suspicious driving activity.

Towns Ranked from Lowest to Highest Rate of DWI Arrests

RankingTown NameArrests Per Square MileTotal DWI Arrests
1. Seaside Heights, NJ191.68143
2. Wildwood, NJ116.92163
3. Loch Arbour, NJ106.3815
4. Allenhurst, NJ5315
5. Bradley Beach, NJ39.4925
6. North Wildwood, NJ35.5976
7. Ship Bottom, NJ34.9635
8. Mantoloking, NJ31.120
9. Deal, NJ28.8338
10. Asbury Park, NJ21.8335
11. Seaside Park, NJ20.8316
12. Belmar, NJ20.6420.62
13. Wildwood Crest, NJ20.6227
14. Sea Bright, NJ19.4225
15. Sea Girt, NJ18.6227
16. Sea Isle City, NJ15.840
17. Neptune, NJ14.29124
18. Bay Head, NJ14.2810
19. Ventnor, NJ12.7745
20. Point Pleasant Beach, NJ12.7153
21. Margate, NJ11.6419
22. Atlantic City, NJ9.45161
23. Avon-by-the-sea, NJ9.245
24. Long Branch, NJ9.2358
25. Stone Harbor, NJ8.1516
26. Manasquan, NJ7.5019
27. Brick, NJ6.71217
28. Surf City, NJ6.546
29. Longport, NJ6.4110
30. Lavalette, NJ6.286
31. Cape May City, NJ5.8316
32. Spring Lake, NJ5.7810
33. Monmouth Beach, NJ5.3111
34. Ocean City, NJ4.4448
35. Beach Haven, NJ3.879
36. Cape May Point, NJ3.171
37. Toms River, NJ2.84389
38. Brigantine, NJ2.627
39. Harvey Cedars, NJ2.533
40. Long Beach, NJ2.3552
41. Avalon, NJ2.0210
42. Berkeley Twp., NJ1.7699
43. Barnegat Light, NJ1.171
44. Upper Township, NJ1.1680

It is important to recognize that this list does not provide a definitive ranking of the safest or most dangerous Shore Towns in NJ regarding drunk driving, not does it represent a ranking of towns based on the likelihood you will be pulled over for drunk driving. The information provided, however, does show that all towns in New Jersey are aware and on the look-out for drunk drivers.

Especially over holidays, police officers will be on the look-out for anyone driving erratically or showing signs of intoxication. There may also be DUI check-point locations set up areas known for drunk driving. If you go out again this year and have anything to drink, the best advice is to call an Uber or a taxi for a ride home. Your car will still be there the next day, but if you are convicted of DWI, then you may quickly lose you license, be fined, or even face time in jail. The consequences for drunk driving are no laughing matter.

New Jersey DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help If You Are Pulled Over This Holiday

If you or someone you know is charged for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who will explain what consequences you are facing in your specific situation. A knowledgeable drunk driving lawyer can also review the evidence against you and present the best case in your defense. 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.

Refusal, Breath Sample Size, and Women Over Sixty

Breathalyzer test being given by a policeman

If you are pulled over in the state of New Jersey, and a police officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that you have been driving while intoxicated, there is a good chance that you will eventually be asked to provide a breath sample so the police officer can determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). There are actually two breath tests that the police officer may use on you. The first is the roadside breath test, which is actually an unofficial test, also known as a portable breath test (PBT). The second, official test, and the only one admissible in court, is much more accurate, but there are also many more rules that come with how the test is conducted.

The law actually requires that you provide an official sample if a police officer requests that you provide the sample based on probable cause. You do not have the right to refuse to comply with the test, known as the Implied Consent statute – although you are not required to comply with a PBT. If you do not provide a breath sample, you might be charged with drunk driving, as well as charged and possibly convicted of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2, Refusal to Take a Breath Test, which could carry equally heavy penalties. What most people do not know is that you can be charged under the Refusal law even if you do provide a breath sample, but you do not follow directions and give breath samples that are large enough.

Sufficient Breath Sample Size

In New Jersey, official breathalyzer tests must be conducted on a Draeger Alcotest 7110. Since the case of State v. Chun in 2008, the state has ruled that drivers are required to provide a breath sample that is sufficiently large. The minimum volume for a breath sample is at least 1.5 liters of air. If a driver does not provide a sample that is large enough, he or she can be convicted of Refusal to Take a Breath Test, as if he or she did not attempt to provide a sample at all. It is not a defense to the law if a driver is too drunk to provide a complete breath sample, but there may be other defenses if a driver has a health condition or some other legitimate reason why he or she cannot provide a sample.

Number of Breath Samples

Moreover, the Implied Consent law not only requires that you submit to a sufficiently large breathalyzer sample if you are asked by a police officer with probable cause. The law also requires that you provide breath samples – meaning the police usually require a minimum of two complete samples for you to be in compliance with the law. This is also to ensure accuracy in BAC test results. If one test result is over the legal limit of .08% BAC, and one is under the legal limit of .08% BAC, the discrepancy can be used in favor of the driver, since the police will use the lower result. In the case of State v. White, the Court ruled that the failure to provide at least two breath samples could constitute Refusal to Take a Breath Test.

What if You’re a Woman Over 60 Years Old?

If you are a woman over 60 years old, there are actually different rules that apply to you when it comes to breath sample size. After studying the scientific reliability of Alcotest breath results, the New Jersey Supreme Court actually decided to adopt separate rules on breath volume size, because women over the age of 60 may have difficulty in providing a sample consisting of 1.5 liters of air within the required time period. Specifically, the study found that women from age sixty to sixty-nine have an average breath volume of 1.4 liters, women seventy and over have an average of 1.3 liters, and women eighty and over have an average volume of 1.2 liters.   At the same time, the Court found that men, regardless of age, were capable of producing a sample of 1.5 liters.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court directed that Alcotest 7110 machines be reprogrammed so that smaller breath sample sizes could be taken and used to get BAC results for those individuals. The Supreme Court also decided in Chun that it would be unfair to prosecute women over the age of sixty under the Refusal to Take a Breath Test law if they could not provide an adequate sample of 1.5 liters of air. At the same time, if a woman over the age of 60 does provide at least one sample of 1.5 liters of air, but failed to do so on subsequent attempts, that fact could be used by the prosecutor as evidence to support a charge of refusing to submit to a breath test.

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

A conviction on DWI/DUI and refusal charges can mean serious penalties – jail time, heavy fines, and loss of license. Defending against these charges can also involve extremely complicated evidentiary issues. If you or someone you know is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is important to have a lawyer who knows how to help. 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 Study Ranks New Jersey Fourth for Lowest Drunk Driving Incidents in the US

empty beer bottle and car key behind bars

A recently published report ranking all 50 US states with regard to the number and severity of drunk driving incidents per capita just listed New Jersey fourth lowest overall for the year the data was collected. Although New Jersey is one of the most densely populated states, and has the 11th largest population in the country, the data is based on the average number of incidents per person. The only states with a better ranking are New York (#1), Massachusetts (#2), and Illinois (#3).

According to the same report released by BackgroundChecks.org, New Jersey also experienced a 31.1% decrease in DUI incidents since the previous year. Although it is not clear what the cause is for the drastic reduction in DWI numbers, one of the likely contributing factors is the increased attention to drunk driving prevention and DUI enforcement by police departments across the state. This means that, if you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in New Jersey, you are more likely than ever to be caught and/or convicted of drunk driving.

How the Rankings Were Decided

The DUI report used multiple sources of data in its rankings including statistics from the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), organizations that collect and aggregate state data. Researchers then created a formula that accounted for the number of DUI incidents including:

  • The number of deaths directly attributable to DUIs,
  • DUI arrests per 100,000 people, and
  • Self-reported drunk driving

A weighted formula was then applied to the data that considered the number of drunk driving incidents and the severity of each incident in order to give a final ranking to each state.

Other Rankings and Data

According to the report, the findings for New Jersey included:

    111 deaths directly attributable to DUIs in New Jersey for 2015

    .20% of all traffic deaths in 2015

    31.1% decrease in incidents from the previous year

    1.24 DUI deaths per 100,000 people

    22,201 total DUI arrests

    248 DUI arrests per 100,000 people

    1.4% of adults who reported drinking too much before driving for 2014

While any number of DUI-related deaths is too many, New Jersey’s rate of 1.24 DUI-related deaths per 100,000 people was the lowest rate of any state in the nation. Between 2003-2012 alone, the CDC reported that 1,816 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in New Jersey. Of those deaths, most were between the ages of 21 and 34.

New York ranked #1 overall with 1.58 DUI-related deaths per 100,000 people, but only 147 DUI arrests per 100,000 people.

The States with the Worst DUI-related Problems are Wyoming (#1), North Dakota (#2), and South Dakota (#3). South Dakota reported 844 DUI arrests per 100,000 people, compared to 838 for North Dakota, and 539 for Wyoming. However, Wyoming also reported the highest number of DUI deaths per capita at 9.56 deaths caused by drunk driving per 100,000 people.

What the Data Means if You Drink and Drive

Make no mistake about it- although the report ranks New Jersey in the top 5 best states for drunk driving incidents, this actually could mean that New Jersey law enforcement officials take DUIs/DWIs even more seriously. This is backed-up by the fact that there was a 31.1% decrease in incidents from the previous year.

Remember, to be considered intoxicated under New Jersey law, drivers only need to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. For some drivers, one drink is enough to reach this level. If a driver is found impaired at any time while operating a motor vehicle, the penalties will be severe, including significant fines, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time.

At the end of the day, one drink can mean the difference between driving legally and being convicted of drunk driving – which might mean losing the ability to provide for your family or loved ones. If you or someone you know is charged with driving while intoxicated, we recommend you seek the advice of an experienced DWI attorney immediately. An experienced drunk driving lawyer will be able to take the time, sit down with you and review your case, and explain what consequences you are facing in your specific situation. If you go to court, an experienced lawyer can help argue on your behalf to get you the best result possible.

New Jersey DWI Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help Drivers Facing DUI/DWI Charges

New Jersey law enforcement officials take drunk driving extremely seriously. If you or someone you know is charged with a DUI or DWI, it is extremely important that you have someone on your side who will take your defense just as seriously. An experienced 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 Drunk Driving Attorney Discusses Prom Season, Graduation, Summer, and the Extreme Consequences of Underage Drinking

New Jersey Drunk Driving AttorneyProm season and graduation season are here and the New Jersey police are taking underage drinking seriously this year. With prom underway, graduation nearing, and the excitement of summer vacation and college freedom looming, it’s not consider the dangers associated with this behavior, drinking alcohol before the age of 21 is illegal in the Garden State. But as with many laws, there will always be those who decide to risk it, and many teens don’t always think before taking every action.

With this in mind, police departments across the state are gearing up to ensure the safety of high school students during these annual occasions. This includes generally being on high alert for young drivers, as well as DWI checkpoints. For example, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Crash Investigations Unit is setting up DUI/DWI checkpoints at random that will pop up from now through the end of June. Additionally, law enforcement will be on the lookout for underage drinkers at places like the Jersey Shore, which are especially popular amongst teens at this time of year while off from school.

At the same time, we at the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog are also aware of the serious consequences associated with drinking and driving, especially for drivers who are underage. For that reason, we always recommend that anyone who is charged with driving while intoxicated consult with an experienced New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense attorney, who has the knowledge and motivation to help.

New Jersey’s Zero-Tolerance Policy

New Jersey takes underage drinking very seriously. Indeed, if you are found driving under the influence of alcohol on prom night, you can expect a zero-tolerance policy. In New Jersey, the legal definition of intoxication for an underage driver is a blood alcohol level of.01%. A teen driver can be prosecuted even if his alcohol level is below the .08% legal limit allowed for adult drivers.

Part of the reason for this increased enforcement is because vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for young people aged 12 to 19. In particular, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 1,000 youth under age 21 die each year in preventable tragedies while celebrating their high school proms and graduations. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the months of April through June are some of the most dangerous times of the year for teens, with nearly one-third of alcohol-related teen motor vehicle deaths occurring between these months.

Therefore, the State of New Jersey is looking to combat these numbers by escalating police presence of DUI checkpoints from now through the end of June, and until the end of summer at places like the shore.

Legal Consequences of Underage Drinking and Driving

Even if you are underage and it is your first offense, a DWI conviction could mean the loss of your license for a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 90 days. You may also be sentenced to community service for a minimum of 15 days and a maximum of 30 days. Persons below the age of 21 convicted of DUI in New Jersey will also be required to undertake a highway safety program or pay fees and penalties as prescribed by the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. Additionally, your car will be impounded, making it difficult to get to school or work. You may also face insurance rate increases and legal fees that cost thousands of dollars to resolve.

Not to mention, a DUI/DWI conviction will go on your record. Unfortunately, many teens don’t grasp the seriousness of this offense. They don’t realize that you may be required to disclose it on college applications, future job applications and even for financial aid requests. A drunk driving conviction could also make you permanently ineligible for certain jobs in the future.

If you decided to drink and drive before the age of 21, it may seem like a small decision at the time, but the consequences of a DUI conviction can last a lifetime.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Defends Underage Drivers Accused of Driving While Intoxicated

If you, your child, or anyone else has been charged with underage drinking, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who can answer all your questions and help defend you against potentially life-altering consequences. You do not need to face these battles alone. A knowledgeable drunk driving lawyer can review the evidence against you and present the best case in your defense. A good 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 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.