New Jersey Drugged Driving Defense Lawyer – New Research Finds Field Drug Identification Tests are Unreliable and Can Easily Result in False Positives

New Research Finds Field Drug Identification Tests are Unreliable and Can Easily Result in False PositivesHeadlines continue to pour in from all over the country with stories of drivers arrested for drugged driving after police officers find “drugs” in the vehicle – except it later turns out that the “drugs” were not really drugs at all and were misidentified by the drug tests used by officers in the field. Now research has backed up these stories, and it turns out many common items – from powdered sugar to baby formula to spearmint – can confuse the common drug tests used by many police departments in New Jersey and across the country.

While testing eventually proved that many of the people who were falsely accused were actually innocent, almost every person was arrested and spent time in jail and then plead guilty or plead to lesser charges before the test results came back. What this means is that, if you or someone you know is charged with DUI, DWI, drugged driving, or driving while high and the police are relying on drugs or marijuana found in the vehicle, you need to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Only a good lawyer will be able to review the evidence against you and determine how to challenge false test results of drugs or marijuana.

The Problem with the Roadside Tests

Many police departments across the country, including in New Jersey, use unreliable field drug identification tests – sometimes call presumptive field tests – to determine quickly if a substance found by a police officer is a drug or marijuana. Many of these tests rely on chemicals called reagents which change colors in the presence of specific drugs or marijuana – except scientists have known that these tests can often result in false positives.

So, why do police departments continue to use these tests?  Because the most common tests cost as little as $2 a test, while reliable tests can cost thousands of dollars.

This is how the tests work: A police officer is given a kit that usually has a variety of different vials or capsules inside. The officer then drops a sample of the suspicious substance into a little pouch and mixes it with the compounds inside the capsule, then waits. The pouch turns a specific color to tell the officer of a positive drug test result.

But depending on the reagent and the substance tested, the test may look like it found drugs, when it really was reacting incorrectly or to something else in the substance. This is known as a false positive, and it could easily lead to an arrest.

Known and Common False Positives with Roadside Tests

Here is a list of some of the more well-known problems with the presumptive field tests:

  • Cobalt thiocyanate, which is commonly used to test for cocaine, can return a false positive in the presence of methadone, Benadryl, pain relievers, acne medication and 80 other substances including household cleaners.
  • The Duquenois-Levine test kit, which is used to identify marijuana, can return a false positive in the presence of patchouli, spearmint, and eucalyptus
  • Extreme cold or extreme heat can cause false positives in some tests
  • Some tests require multiple steps, and, if performed incorrectly, can result in a false positive.
  • Most tests require the police officer to see the color of the test substances and if they have changed.  In poor or uneven lighting, a police officer can easily misinterpret what he sees.
  • No agency regulates the manufacture or sale of the tests and no records are kept on their use.

Once a test results in a false positive, the police officer will believe that he or she has found drugs. Then, the driver will be arrested for DUI/DWI, and the driver’s innocence may not be proven for months when the test results are confirmed or rejected by actual scientists in a laboratory. In the meantime, many drivers plead guilty to the charges – especially ones who are not represented by an attorney.

Because it can take as long as 6 months before results come back, many people simply cannot wait or do not know how to prove their innocence. If you or someone you know is in this situation, the first thing you should do is reach out to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

New Jersey Drug and Marijuana Driving Defense Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help

Many innocent people are charged every day with DUI and DWI.  If you or someone you know needs help fighting false charges against you, it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.  A good lawyer can make all the difference.  To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today.  We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Defense Blog – As Cars Become Smarter, Intoxication Detection Built In?

A new program funded by the federal government – the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety Program – seeks to install passive blood-alcohol concentration detectors in all vehicles. Supporters of the program believe the new technology can follow in the footsteps of past proposed safety measures like seatbelts, airbags, or blind-spot detection. There is even a push to make such devices mandatory for all new cars and trucks by the 2024.

How the New Technology Would Function

Unlike an ignition interlock device, the proposed alcohol detection system would work passively, meaning, a driver would not need to blow into any type of tube in order for it to work. Instead, two combined technologies would work together: a breath-based system and a touch-based system.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Defense Blog – As Cars Become Smarter, Intoxication Detection Built In?The breath-based system would pull the driver’s exhaled breath into a vent sensor on or near the steering wheel or driver’s side door. The driver would be able to breath normally and would not need to take any additional steps. The system would also be able to target only the driver’s breath, ensuring that the breath of other passengers are not captured. If an illegal blood-alcohol content (above the legal limit of .08%) is detected, the car would be rendered inoperable.

The touch-based system would be placed on the ignition button or on the steering column and would be able to measure a person’s blood alcohol content through the skin. Again, if an illegal blood alcohol concentration is detected, the vehicle would be rendered inoperable.

Congressional Attempts to Make the Technology into Law

United States Senators Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced legislation last week in Congress to make this new technology a requirement for all new cars and trucks by 2024. The bill is named the “Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019,” called the RIDE Act. Part of the act will direct funding to researching the new sensors, in order to make sure the technology can work quickly and reliably with no effort on the part of the driver. The proposed law would also reserve $25 million for testing in government-owned vehicles.

Since 2008, the program has received $50 Million in funding in collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety – a group of automakers.

The hope is that, by making the technology available, people will push to have it in their vehicles, similar to current technologies like back-up cameras, blind-spot monitoring, or even self-driving vehicles.

How DWI Arrests and Convictions Could Be Affected by the Technology

If the technology is able to render a vehicle inoperable, it could reduce the number of DUIs and DWIs. However, until the technology receives better testing, there will be no way to determine its accuracy.

If a driver uses a technology to test his or her own BAC, and the technology is wrong, it will not be a defense against a DWI or DUI charge. For instance, if a driver has a BAC of .08%, but the car allows him or her to drive anyway, the driver could still be pulled over, arrested, and convicted of drunk driving.

NJ DUI/DWI Defense Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Understands How to Help

Because technology is constantly changing and improving, DUI and DWI law is constantly changing, too. If you or someone you know is arrested or charged with drunk driving, it important to consult an attorney with both a history of experience and the most up-to-date information. A good lawyer can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

NJ DUI Defense Attorney Warns that Insurance Premiums Could Increase as Much as 250% After a DWI Conviction

Insurance Premiums Could IncreaseHere on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we regularly discuss what can happen to you if you are convicted of drunk driving, drugged driving, or driving while high. Most people are aware that consequences include jail time, loss of driving privileges, and excessive fines. However, this does not even begin to approximate the real cost of a DUI. One thing many people forget is that a conviction will also result in increased car insurance premiums.

A new report summarizes just how much your annual car insurance premium can increase after a DUI or DWI. The average car insurance premium increase in the United States is 80% for the first year after a DUI, although this can vary greatly from state-to-state. For instance, the average increase is highest in Michigan, where most drivers who are convicted of drunk driving experience a 249% increase in car insurance premiums.

New Jersey Car Insurance Increases After DUI/DWI

New Jersey already has one of the highest car insurance costs in the country with an average annual premium cost of $1,520-$1,679. According to one report, New Jersey drivers pay an average of 132% more in the year immediately following the conviction. Moreover, because the DUI conviction becomes a permanent part of your driving record, the average convicted driver will continue to pay increased premium rates long after he or she is convicted.

In New Jersey, the average convicted driver will continue to pay 75% more on car insurance – or an average of $1,273 more. This means, instead of paying $1679 for car insurance, a person who was previously convicted will pay $2,951 per year for car insurance.

High Risk Drivers Can Expect to Pay Even More

Car insurance companies classify people into different risk categories in order to determine car insurance premium costs. With regard to most factors, recent history is the most important factor. Accidents, tickets, or convictions in the most recent year will count more than something that happened five years ago.

If you are already categorized as high risk, getting a DUI or DWI increase the cost of your insurance premiums even more. For instance, a driver under the age of 25 with a DUI may pay three times as much for insurance as someone older who had a DUI 10 years ago.

Some car insurance companies may even refuse to give you insurance, in which case you will be required to obtain high risk insurance elsewhere.

Auto Insurance Costs After DUI

If you live in New Jersey, you are probably already familiar with shopping for car insurance. The amount you pay for car insurance after a DUI/ DWI can vary greatly from company to company.

A recent survey found that the following popular companies offered these average insurance rates for drivers after a drunk driving conviction.

Insurance company

Avg. rate after DUI

New Jersey Manufacturers

$1,392

Progressive

$1,745

GEICO

$1,850

Allstate

$4,872

State Farm

$6,755

However, these numbers can change quickly and will vary from person to person based on many factors. The only guarantee is that your car insurance premium will go up if you are convicted of driving while intoxicated in this state. For that reason, if you or someone you know is charged with DUI or DWI, it is important to hire an experienced attorney as soon as you can.

New Jersey Drunk Driver Defense Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help

If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence in New Jersey, it is important to speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation. You want someone who understands the real costs and penalties you are facing. A good lawyer can make all the difference. 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.

Should You Challenge a Traffic Ticket in New Jersey?

What Are the Benefits of Fighting a Traffic Citation?

traffic ticket in new jerseyYou’ve been stopped by police in New Jersey and issued a ticket. Maybe you were speeding or failed to come to a complete stop. Maybe you made an illegal turn. If you’re like most people, you may feel like you have no recourse other than to show up and pay your fine. To the contrary, there can be a number of good reasons to fight the ticket.

You Might Save a Lot of Money

If you plead guilty, you’ll have to pay a fine, known as a “surcharge,” which can be anywhere from $100 to $1,000. And that’s for each infraction! If you are charged with multiple offenses— speeding, failure to use due caution, reckless driving—the costs can add up quickly. If you don’t pay in a timely manner, you could risk the seizure of assets to pay the fines.

You Might Avoid the Accumulation of Points on Your Driving Record

The state of New Jersey maintains a point system for all licensed motorists. You accumulate points for certain types of infractions. If you amass too many points in a given period—typically two years—you can risk the suspension of your driving privileges. You can have points removed after the fact, but it’s much easier to keep them from being added to your record. An experienced attorney may be able to negotiate an agreement with prosecutors to avoid or minimize points.

The Police Officer May Not Show at the Hearing

Under the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to question your accuser. If you challenge the ticket, the police officer must appear in court to answer your questions. Police officers cannot do this with every ticket they write. If the officer is a no show, your case will be dismissed.

Contact Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich

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

The New Expungement Law in New Jersey

Expungement-Law-in-New-Jersey

New Provisions Went into Effect on October 1, 2018

Last December, outgoing New Jersey governor Chris Christie signed bill S-3307, enacting significant changes to the state’s expungement laws. Those changes went into effect at the beginning of October.

What is Expungement?

Under New Jersey law, an expungement officially “removes” and isolates all records filed with courts, correctional facilities, law enforcement agencies, juvenile justice agencies, criminal justice agencies or detention centers. That includes any information about your arrest or apprehension, any detention or incarceration, and all trial proceedings. When your petition for expungement is granted, the court will issue an order which states that the crime/offense “shall be deemed not to have occurred.” Your records, however, will not be destroyed, but only sealed.

The New Expungement Law

The new expungement law reduces some waiting periods and adds to the number of convictions for disorderly persons offenses that a person may have expunged. Specifically, the new statute:

  • Shortens the waiting period for expunging felony convictions from 10 to 6 years. You can, however, still seek “early pathway” expungement after 5 years
  • Allows a person to expunge up to four disorderly persons convictions, up from three (provided the applicant has not been convicted of a felony)
  • Allows a person to expunge up to three disorderly persons convictions, up from two, if the applicant has a prior felony conviction
  • Allows a person to expunge more than one felony conviction, but only if the felonies were part of a “crime spree,” listed in a single judgment of conviction
  • Gets rid of the “PTI” bar—Under the prior law, a person who has a felony dismissed as part of a “pre-trial intervention (PTI)” could not subsequently seek expungement of any offense. That provision is no longer part of the law.

Contact Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich

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

The Penalties for DUI in New Jersey

Penalties-for-DUI-in-New-Jersey

If you’ve been stopped and charged with drinking and driving in New Jersey, you face significant potential sanctions. Similar to other states, the penalties for DUI in New Jersey depend on a variety of factors, including severity of the offense and whether or not there are any prior convictions. Here’s an overview of the statutory penalties for drunk driving in New Jersey.

First Conviction for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

New Jersey takes any DUI charge seriously. Even if you’ve never been charged or convicted of drinking and driving before, you can spend up to a month in jail and pay a significant fine. In addition, you can lose your license for up to year or be required to have an ignition interlock on your car.

Second DUI Conviction

As a repeat offender, you can face up to 90 days in jail, as well as fines of up to $1,000. A second DUI can also lead to a two-year suspension of your license, and a mandatory ignition interlock.

Subsequent Convictions

With a third conviction, you can be sentenced to 180 days in jail, and can lose your driving privileges for up to 10 years. The court can also assess a $1,000 fine and order installation of an ignition interlock.

Penalties Applicable to All DUI Convictions

Regardless of how many convictions you’ve had, you incur the following:

  • A $100 fee paid to the drunk driving enforcement fund
  • A $100 fee to restore your motor vehicle registration
  • A $100 fee to the violent crimes compensation fund
  • A $100 fee to the Intoxicated Driver program
  • A $100 state and municipal fee

Contact Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich

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

Can You Beat a New Jersey Traffic Ticket?

New-Jersey-Traffic-Ticket

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

Ways to Challenge a Blood Alcohol Test

If you’ve been pulled over while driving in New Jersey and issued a ticket for a moving violation of any kind, you’re typically faced with two options—pay the ticket and accept the consequences or appear before the judge and contest the citation. Don’t be confused—the decision to pay the ticket amounts to a guilty plea and may result in points added to your driving record.

If, on the other hand, you opt to challenge the ticket, there are a number of things you can do. First, you can write the police officer a letter, documenting any extenuating circumstances. The police officer has the discretion to dismiss the charge before you are scheduled to go to court.

Next, you can present your case to the prosecutor. While you cannot plea bargain on a DUI charge in New Jersey, you can seek to have the prosecutor reduce or dismiss charges on other traffic offenses.

If you are unable to convince either the police officer or the prosecutor to reduce or drop the charges, you can schedule a trial before a municipal court judge. You can represent yourself, but it’s in your best interests to have a lawyer advocate for you. The judge won’t be able to help you and the prosecutor will be prepared.

At the trial, you’ll want to bring as much evidence as you can to support your position. If you were ticketed for running a stop sign, but the sign was partially hidden, bring a picture that shows that. If there were witnesses who can testify that you did not violate the law, make certain they are present in court.

Contact Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich

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

Challenging the Traffic Stop in a New Jersey DUI

Traffic-Stop-in-a-New-Jersey-DUI

If you’ve been pulled over by law enforcement officers in New Jersey and your blood alcohol content exceeded the legal level for a charge of drinking and driving, all is not necessarily lost. You have certain constitutional protections that require that police follow specific rules, both in making the traffic stop and after you’ve been detained.

Under the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you have a guaranteed right to be free from what is considered an unreasonable search or seizure. As set forth in the amendment, for a search or seizure to be “reasonable,” there must first be probable cause. Accordingly, before you can be pulled over, law enforcement officers must first observe a violation of the law or must have a reasonable belief that you have or are in the process of violating the law. Any infraction will provide the basis for a legal stop—a broken tail light, an illegal lane change or failure to obey traffic laws. Furthermore, if you match the description of a fugitive, or if the officer observes contraband or other evidence of illegal activity in your vehicle, that may constitute probable cause.

Once you have been stopped, the police officer may ask you questions. The requirement that you be provided with your “Miranda” warnings does not, however, go into effect, unless you have been taken into custody. The Miranda warnings include the admonition that anything you say may be used against you in court, and that you have the right to have an attorney present. Accordingly, you should be very careful when responding to any comments or questions from the police officer. If, however, the officer arrests you, but fails to provide the Miranda warnings, anything you say may be excluded from evidence at trial.

Contact Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich

To schedule a free initial consultation, contact my office online or call me at 732-257-1137. Evening and weekend consultations are available by appointment. I accept all major credit cards.

Challenging the Blood Alcohol Test in a New Jersey DUI

Challenging-the-Blood-Alcohol-Test

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

Ways to Challenge a Blood Alcohol Test

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

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

Contact Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich

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

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.