NJ DUI and DWI Defense Blog: You Don’t Need to Be Driving to Get a Ticket for Drunk Driving

NJ DUI and DWI Defense Blog: You Don’t Need to Be Driving to Get a Ticket for Drunk DrivingLast week, the New Jersey Appellate Division – the second highest Court in the state – issued an opinion reaffirming the fact that you can get a ticket for DUI or DWI even when you are not actually driving a car, truck or automobile. Although drunk driving is often referred to as a DWI (“driving while intoxicated”) or DUI (“Driving Under the Influence”), the law doesn’t actually use the word “driving” at all. N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 actually makes it illegal to:

. . . operate[] a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or operate[] a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant’s blood . . .

In State v. Thompson, No. A-2011-18T4, decided on February 10, 2020, the Appellate division upheld the long-held rule in New Jersey that “operate” does not only mean “drive,” and you can get a DUI or DWI in other circumstances, such as if you are found asleep behind the wheel of a parked, non-moving vehicle.

The Case of John Thompson

In State v. Thompson, Mr. Thompson was charged with violations of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a), for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2, for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test as required by the law.

These are the important facts according to the opinion:

  1. Mr. Thompson was found asleep at 10:30 p.m. in the parking lot of 7-Eleven in Wanaque, NJ.
  2. He was in the driver’s seat.
  3. The car’s engine was running.
  4. There was a half-eaten sandwich and prescription bottles on the front passenger seat.
  5. The officers stated that they smelled a strong odor of alcohol.
  6. The officers woke him up and he told them he had been asleep for 30-40 minutes.
  7. Mr. Thompson failed a field sobriety test and was arrested.
  8. Subsequently, he told police officers at the station that he was under the care of a physician and was prescribed Methadone, Hydrocodone, Xanax, and Cymbalta.
  9. He also volunteered that he had two drinks within a three-hour period.

Altogether, the state could use this evidence to show not only that Mr. Thompson had the ability to operate the vehicle while intoxicated, but that he likely drove to the 7-eleven while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Mr. Thompson voluntarily told the police officers many of the important details the state would need to convict him.

The Court noted that there is no question this was sufficient evidence to convict him of drunk operation of a motor vehicle, and he was also convicted of refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Why Operation Does NOT Require Actual Driving

Although a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 is known by everyone as DWI, DUI, “driving while intoxicated,” “driving under the influence,” and “drunk driving,” the term “driving” is not found in the body of the law. Instead, “operation” has been interpreted by famous past cases including State v. Tischio, State v. Wright, and State v. Sweeney.

A person sleeping in the driver’s seat of a vehicle while intoxicated, with the keys in the ignition, and the engine running will likely be found to have been operating the vehicle, even if the vehicle never moves. This is known as “the possibility of motion.”

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Believes You Deserve a Good Defense

The state is not automatically entitled to a guilty verdict or conviction for DUI/DWI if a person is found asleep in a parked car. There are several important factors that the state will need to prove, and which an experienced attorney can use to have the charges dismissed. If you or someone you know is arrested, charged for, or convicted of DUI or DWI, it is important to contact a good attorney as soon as 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.

ATTENTION! New Jersey Drivers and Drunk Driving Defense Lawyers –Directive #25-19 Discussion: Part 2

Drivers and Drunk Driving Defense LawyersLast week, here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we discussed the first part of the official court notice was sent out to all New Jersey judges and court administrators on December 4, 2019. The Directive comes straight from the desk of the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts – the Honorable Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D – and it addresses the new law drunk driving law that went into effect on December 1, 2019. Today, we continue to break down the directive and what it means for those facing charges of DWI after December 1, 2019.

Directive #25-19 (“Implementation of New DWI Law (L. 2019, c. 248) – Includes Expanded Use of Ignition Interlock Devices for First-Time Offenders”) can be found on the NJCourts.gov website at https://njcourts.gov/notices/2019/n191205b.pdf?c=Uc5

One of the most important and useful parts of the new Directive was the inclusion of new standard forms and notices that the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts is circulating to assist local municipalities and courts to advise defendants of their new rights and responsibilities.

Important Changes to Forms and Notices to Offenders

  • Ignition Interlock Information and Notification Form – this form must be completed at sentencing by every defendant convicted with DWI or refusal AFTER December 1, 2019. Importantly, this form also has a section where a defendant can attest that they do not own, lease or have the ability to drive a motor vehicle. Found on Page 18 of the Directive.
    Ignition Interlock Information and Notification Form
  • Order and Certification – Intoxicated Driving and Related Offenses Form – this is a form the court completes at sentencing that has now been modified. The modifications include removal of any reference to the “school zone” violation, providing a new check box for license forfeiture for an indeterminate time period for certain first-time offenders. All convicted defendants are required to provide a copy of this form to the ignition interlock installer they hire. Found on Page 19 of the Directive.
    Order and Certification – Intoxicated Driving and Related Offenses Form
  • Notification of Enhanced Penalties for Subsequent DWI or Driving on the Revoked List Convictions Form – this form advises defendants convicted after December 1, 2019 of potential future penalties if they are convicted of a subsequent DWI or found driving during a period of license forfeiture. Notably, this new form supersedes all the past versions of the form and under the directive is now required to be provided to all defendants found guilty of DWI or refusal, including those charged prior to December 1, 2019. Found on Page 20 of the Directive.
    Notification of Enhanced Penalties for Subsequent DWI or Driving on the Revoked List Convictions Form

Important Procedural Change Regarding Removal of the Ignition Interlock Device

The AG Directive also provides clarification regarding the procedure for removing a court-ordered ignition interlock device. Specifically, it explains that once an offender completes the required installation period, the offender is eligible to have the interlock device removed from his or her vehicle IF they have complied with the necessary conditions during the installation period, as discussed previously on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog. If they have successfully complied with the conditions, the ignition interlock installer is required to provide the offender with a certification that they can take to the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) indicating their successful completion.

Alternatively, if the installer determines that an offender has failed to comply with one or both conditions specified by law, the vendor is then required to send notice of the non-compliance to BOTH the Motor Vehicle Commission and the relevant municipal court. The installer is expected to provide specific reasons why the offender did not comply, such as what requirement was violated. If a municipal court receives such a notification, by law they then must determine whether to extend the ignition interlock period (potentially up to another 90 days) or else advise the MVC that the offender has satisfied their ignition interlock requirements. This is all determined at a court hearing, where the offender gets the opportunity to refute a claim that he or she was non-compliant. As always, if you or someone you know has been arrested, charged, or convicted of DUI/DWI and is undergoing this difficult process, it is important to get good legal advice from an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

NJ DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Discusses Information You Need to Know

The law is constantly changing. If you or someone you know has been arrested, charged, or convicted of DUI or DWI, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney who is always up to date on the newest changes. 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.

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

DWI Convictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What These Changes Would Mean if You Are Convicted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the NTSB Wants to Lower the BAC Limit

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

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

What This Could Mean for You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Auto Brewery Syndrome?

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

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

Known Cases of Auto Brewery Syndrome

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

Could Auto Brewery Syndrome Be the Cause of Your DUI?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Will the Proposed Diversionary Program Affect?

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

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

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

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

A driver can only take advantage of this opportunity once.

How Can the Program Help?

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

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

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

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

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

New Jersey DUI Attorney Reminds You Not to Drive Any Vehicle or Machinery While Under the Influence

Under-the-Influence

Here at the Edward M. Janzekovich Law Blog, we usually discuss how you can be arrested and charged with driving a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  What many people forget, however, is that the law also prohibits the operation of other types of vehicles while under the effects of drinking or drug use.  For instance, this blog has previously discussed that boating or operating a commercial truck while drunk is illegal.

In fact, New Jersey laws generally do not allow persons to drive or operate any type of vehicle while impaired, whether as the result of liquor, narcotics, or marijuana.  However, different laws may apply depending on what type of vehicle is being operated – and these laws will affect what penalties apply upon conviction or whether the standard .08% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit applies.  If you or someone you know is charged or arrested for a DUI/DWI while operating any type of vehicle, you should contact an experienced drunk driving lawyer immediately who will be able to explain what your rights are and what penalties you could be facing.  A dedicated DUI attorney will also be able to present a defense on your behalf in court or may be able to have the charges against you dismissed completely.

Definition of a Motor Vehicle

State law, N.J.S.A. 39:1-1, defines both motor vehicles and vehicles.  Motor vehicles and vehicles under the drunk driving statute include all transportation devices other than those that are human powered, such as bicycles or skateboards, and also does not include motorized bicycles or trains.  Therefore, the law against drunk driving includes commercial vehicles, farm tractors, motorcycles, and all manner of trucks and buses.  Other types of transportation devices, such as snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), or scooters are either completely excluded by case law or are have their own specialized intoxicated operation rules, and the way the various laws are affected by the type of vehicle being operated, or where it is being operated, can be complicated.

Mopeds or Motorized Bicycles

Mopeds, for instance, are controlled by N.J.S.A. 39:4-14.3g, which prohibits driving any motorized bicycle under the influence of “intoxicating liquor, or a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit producing drug.”  The same penalties apply to moped DUIs as to other vehicles, and someone charged with driving a moped while drunk will need to provide a breath sample and can possibly face the loss of driving privileges for a period of time depending on the specific circumstances.  Different consequences or sentencing enhancements, however, may apply to driving a moped with a suspended license, because it is not considered a motor vehicle.

Bicycles

Normal, man-powered bicycles are not considered vehicles under the drunk driving statute.  Therefore, contrary to popular belief, a person cannot be found guilty of violating New Jersey’s prohibition against drunk driving, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. In State v. Johnson and State v. Machuzak, the New Jersey Appellate Division made clear that a defendant’s operation of a non-motorized pedal-type bicycle while intoxicated could not legally result in a conviction for driving while intoxicated, because the law specifically and unambiguously applies to motorized vehicles only.

Construction Vehicles

Recently, a New Jersey man was charged with operating a backhoe while intoxicated.  The individual was stopped after a police officer witnessed him driving the construction vehicle while drinking beer and swerving on the road.  The officer smelled alcohol on the man’s breath, and he was charged after being found with open containers in the vehicle, failing his sobriety test and admitting to the police officer that he didn’t have a valid license.

Depending on the specific vehicle, a construction vehicle may fit the standard definition of a motorized vehicle, or it can also possibly be considered a commercial vehicle.  If it is a commercial vehicle, then other penalties can apply, including permanent loss of a commercial driver’s license.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if You Have Been Arrested or Charged for Drunk Driving

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

New Jersey DUI/DWI Lawyer – Truck Drivers and DUI

If your family relies on your New Jersey commercial driver’s license (CDL) for income, the consequences of a DUI conviction can be devastating.  Even if you are not on the job and just driving your own personal vehicle, a DUI conviction or refusal offense will result in a one-year mandatory CDL suspension (three years if the violation occurred in a HAZMAT truck).  You will also lose your basic license for three to 12 months.  Commercial truckers convicted of a DUI are unlikely to ever find work driving a truck again.  And if you are convicted of drunk driving a second time, your CDL will be permanently revoked and you will lose your basic drivers license for two years.  At the Law Office of Edward M. Janzekovich, our goal is always to avoid a conviction for our clients.

Driving a Commercial Truck Under the Influence

As you can see, New Jersey law is harsh when it comes to truckers who drive while intoxicated in their own cars.  So you can imagine how the law treats drivers who drink before getting behind the wheel of a large commercial vehicle.  In 1990, the New Jersey Legislature cracked down on trucking safety and enacted the New Jersey Commercial Driver License Act.  Pursuant to the Act, it is illegal to operate a commercial motor vehicle in New Jersey with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more.  The legal limit for driving a passenger car in New Jersey is 0.08 percent.  This law aims to discourage truckers from consuming even small amounts of alcohol in an effort to reduce accidents and fatalities.

What is a “Commercial Motor Vehicle?”

So, it is illegal operate a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.04 percent.  What if you are pulled over your RV while on vacation with a BAC of 0.05 percent, will you be charged with drunk driving?  Although RVs are large enough to constitute a “commercial motor vehicle,” the law makes an exception for certain privately owned recreational vehicles.  The following vehicles, however, will all trigger the lower 0.04 percent BAC threshold:

  • School buses
  • Passenger buses (If used to transport passengers to and from places of employment on a daily basis, even a bus with seven passenger seats will qualify as a commercial vehicle. If used less frequently, any bus designed to transport 16 or more passengers will trigger the lower BAC threshold).
  • Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more
  • Trucks displaying hazardous material placards

“Operation” of a Commercial Motor Vehicle

Trucking is a more a lifestyle than a job.  In covering long distances, drivers often sleep in their cabs at truck stops.  In New Jersey, “operation” of a motor vehicle does not require that the truck actually be moving.  The prosecutor only needs to prove that a driver intended to put the vehicle in motion, and that it was possible that the truck could be moved.  Therefore, it is possible to be charged with a DUI in a truck stop parking lot even if you never leave your cab.

Out of State Convictions

If you have been convicted of driving while intoxicated in another state, either in a truck or your personal vehicle, your New Jersey CDL will be suspended for one year.  If you are convicted a second time, your CDL will be permanently revoked.

New Jersey Commercial DWI Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Fights for Truck Drivers

If you are a commercial driver and you have been charged with a DUI, we understand the fear and anxiety you may be feeling.  Getting a DUI is a frightening experience for anyone, but for truckers, the stakes are even higher.  At the Law Office of Edward M. Janzekovich, we make it a priority to communicate with our clients.  We will explain what you can expect throughout the legal process and what your options are.  To speak to an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer, call the Law Office of Edward M. Janzekovich at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today.  We represent clients throughout New Jersey, including Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.

New Jersey DWI – DUI Lawyer – When Your Guests Drink and Drive

Imagine you have a small get together with your friends at your beach house rental, and you serve your guests alcohol.  Then imagine that one of your guests drinks a little too much, and continues to help herself to drinks even after you have observed her stumbling and slurring her words.  Later that night, she attempts to drive herself home, but collides with another car, severely injuring the other driver.  In New Jersey, the injured victim can collect damages from both you, the social host, and from your intoxicated guest who caused the accident.

This is because under New Jersey law, social hosts that serve alcoholic beverages to adult guests, knowing that they are intoxicated and will be driving, can be held liable for any injuries inflicted upon an innocent third party.  A social host is any person who invites another into their home and provides them with alcohol.  In order to be considered a social host, you need not give an express invitation—an implied invitation will suffice.  Social hosts can be held liable even when guests serve themselves at a party.  So-called “social host” laws are intended to prevent drunk driving and minimize fatalities.

Social host liability laws are derived from “dram shop” laws.  Dram shop laws enable injured victims to sue the bar when a visibly intoxicated patron was served prior to causing injury to a third party.  Many years ago, judges were exposing tavern owners to ever increasing liability by broadening the applicability of these laws on a case-by-case basis.  As a result, insurance premiums for bar owners skyrocketed.  In response, the New Jersey legislature enacted the Licensed Alcoholic Beverage Server Fair Liability Act in order to protect the rights of those who suffered losses as a result of the negligent serving of drinks.

Both social hosts and bar owners can be held liable for third party injuries, but the drunk driver can also be held liable.  This is because courts apply something called “comparative negligence” in apportioning liability.  This means that a jury will decide how much the social host (or bar owner) is to blame relative to the intoxicated driver.  One of the most hotly contested issues in these cases is how much the guest was able to appreciate the risk of harm while consuming alcohol at the party.  For example, if a host served his guests straight vodka, but described the drinks as light cocktails, the host may be responsible for paying a greater share of the compensation to any injured victims.

Social hosts that serve visibly intoxicated guests can be held liable for an injured third party’s:

  • Medical bills
  • Costs for rehabilitation and therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Value of household and childcare services the person otherwise would have performed had they not been injured
  • Loss of consortium to the injured party’s spouse

In New Jersey, those injured as a result of negligent serving of alcohol are also entitled to punitive damages.  Punitive damages are very high damage awards designed to punish particularly egregious behavior.

If you are planning a party, it is important to consider that your guests will need to get home safely.  If you see that one of your guests is visibly intoxicated, you should either invite them to spend the night, arrange for someone to drive them home, or as a last resort, involve the authorities.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Provides Experienced DWI – DUI Defense

If you have been charged with drunk driving, there are many issues to consider.  Not only will you need a skilled lawyer to defend you against criminal drunk driving charges, but you may also be facing civil liability if anyone has been injured.  Edward M. Janzekovich has vast experience defending people just like you who have been charged with DUI.  He understands the fear and anxiety you may be feeling, and strives to give each and every client peace of mind by explaining what to expect in simple terms.  To schedule a free consultation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today.  We serve clients throughout New Jersey, including Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.