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.

When a Drunk Driving Offense Can Turn into a Criminal Prosecution in New Jersey

When a Drunk Driving Offense Can Turn into a Criminal Prosecution in New JerseyAs a general rule, a charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI) will not be the basis for a criminal prosecution in the state of New Jersey. In most situations, it will be booked as a motor vehicle offense, with proceedings in municipal court, much like other traffic infractions, such as speeding or reckless driving.

There are, however, circumstances where you can face criminal prosecution as a result of an arrest for drinking and driving. New Jersey law allows prosecutors to file criminal charges against anyone booked for DWI if there was a minor in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop and arrest. The offense may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor-like offense, or may be an indictable offense, such as endangering the welfare of a child (EWC).

There is no language in the EWC statute that expressly indicates that driving under the influence with a minor in the car constitutes child endangerment, but prosecutors in New Jersey have successfully made that connection in the past.

It’s important to understand that, should you be pulled over and taken into custody for drinking and driving, while you have minors in the car, the court will have to find you guilty of drunk driving before it can find you guilty of DWI with a minor, including child endangerment. The two offenses are separate and one is contingent on the other. If you are not convicted of a DWI, you cannot be prosecuted for a DWI with a minor or for endangering the welfare of a child.

Be aware, though, that if you are detained for drunk driving and there are minors in the car, you can be charged with both DWI with a minor and with endangering the welfare of a child.

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.

What to Do When You Have Been Stopped by the Police—Part One

Ways to Safely and Effectively Respond to a Traffic Stop

Stopped-by-the-Police

It’s one of those things that almost always puts a lump in your throat, whether you’ve never been pulled over or you’ve been charged on a number of occasions with drinking and driving—when you see the blue flashing lights behind you. The police generally have some discretion—you might get a ticket, but you might escape with a warning—and a lot of what happens can be based on how you initially respond. Here are some guidelines for helping minimize the negative ramifications of being pulled over.

Pull Off the Road as Soon as You Can Do So Safely

You want to pull over as soon as possible, but only in ways that will be safe for you and the officer. If you’re on a narrow and busy road, the officer will likely appreciate if you wait to pull into a parking lot or turn off. In addition, you don’t want to slam on the brakes or cut across traffic to get to the shoulder.

Many people incorrectly assume that, by pulling over quickly, you’re acknowledging that you’ve broken the law. To the contrary, it will likely indicate to the officer that you were paying attention to the road.

Obey All Traffic Laws and Signs

If you’re changing lanes or turning into a parking lot, use your turn signal. Make certain you stop at all lights or signs, and don’t make an illegal turn just to get off the road. If you do pull over to the shoulder of the road, go as far to the right as you safely can, so that the officer can come to the driver’s side without being on the road.

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.

New Jersey DWI Attorney Reminds You to Be Extra Careful About Drunk Driving Around the Holidays

A drink and car keys

With Thanksgiving just behind us, and holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve around the corner, we at the Law Office of Edward M. Janzekovich would like to remind you to be extra careful about drunk driving when it comes to going out and celebrating this festive and happy holiday season.

Not only should you be extra careful so that you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe, you should also be aware that police officers and government officials are on high alert for any potential drunk or intoxicated drivers during the holidays. One little mistake, such as thinking you can drive when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is actually above .08%, can result in serious consequences – such as fines, jail time, or loss of driving privileges – that affect you for years to come.

Heightened Police Activity and DUI Checkpoints

Last year, Pennsauken, Woodbridge, Spotswood, and Wall townships reported the most DWI arrests in the state between December 11, 2015 and January 1, 2016. This past Thanksgiving, NJ.com reported that at least 15 New Jersey towns planned to increase DUI patrols and checkpoints during the holiday weekend (http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/11/where_nj_cops_are_increasing_dui_patrols_checkpoin.html). These included:

  • Atlantic Highlands
  • Aberdeen
  • Belmar
  • Hazlet
  • Highlands
  • Holmdel
  • Keyport
  • Keansburg
  • Matawan
  • Middletown
  • Neptune
  • New Brunswick
  • North Bergen
  • Union Beach
  • Union City

Between now and New Year’s Day, police officers across the state will be on the look-out for any signs or drunk driving. Therefore, if you plan to go out and drink this holiday season, you should take a taxi, call an Uber, or pick a designated driver. Otherwise, even if you don’t get in an accident and hurt yourself or others, you run the risk of getting arrested for drunk driving every time you choose to have even one drink and get behind the wheel.

DUI Checkpoints, Sobriety Tests, and Taking a Breathalyzer

Police officers will be most likely to set up DUI checkpoints at the location of bars or other venues where lots of people will be drinking. This is important, because it means you could be randomly stopped and checked for signs of drunk driving, even if you do not display any erratic behavior on the road – such as swerving, speeding, or braking unexpectedly – just for going to certain venues during the holidays. In New Jersey, police officers are actually prohibited from stopping cars based on appearance alone at checkpoints, so cars will be detained in a pre-selected pattern such as every car or every third car.

That means that even if you are driving perfectly, you could be pulled over at a DUI checkpoint. Then, if the police officer has reasonable suspicion to believe you were driving drunk – such as smelling alcohol on your breath – you could be asked to take a field sobriety test or possibly even take a breathalyzer.

Once you’ve taken a breathalyzer, any BAC reading of .08% or higher can potentially be used as proof of guilt for a charge of DUI/DWI. That means that even if you were driving perfectly, and you do not believe you did anything wrong, you could still be convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol based on your breathalyzer results. As we’ve discussed in this blog before, whether you are functional or coordinated during a sobriety test is not a defense against a BAC at or above 0.08%

Therefore, the best advice we can give you this holiday season is to be careful. If you or someone you know is arrested or charged with a DUI or DWI, it is important to contact an experienced attorney immediately. A professional drunk driving lawyer will review your case and can help fight the charges against you.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Is There for You This Holiday Season

If you or someone you know is charged for any crime relating to 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. 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 Lawyer – Supreme Court Questions Whether Drivers Can Be Forced to Take a Breathalyzer Test Without a Warrant

Last month, the United States Supreme Court addressed whether police can require drivers to take a “deep-lung” breath test without a search warrant. Three cases out of Minnesota and North Dakota were joined and brought before the Court. These states have laws that make it a crime for drivers to refuse to take a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test. Eleven other states have similar laws, including Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. A majority of the justices questioned whether these laws criminalizing refusal are constitutional, in light of an individual’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Generally speaking, the police cannot search a driver or their car after an arrest without first getting a search warrant, unless it is for their own personal safety or to preserve evidence. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that police cannot conduct blood tests for drunken driving without first obtaining a warrant. However, some justices remain hesitant to apply the same rule to the breathalyzer test, because it is less intrusive than drawing blood.

Previously in North Dakota, refusal to submit to a chemical test carried only civil penalties, such as the suspension or revocation of one’s license. However in 2013, North Dakota lawmakers passed legislation to make penalties for drunk driving offenses more severe—in part by punishing a refusal to take a breathalyzer test in the same manner as it punishes the crime of driving under the influence.

The groups backing the states’ laws, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), have argued that when a person applies for a driver’s license, they give their implied consent to be subjected to a chemical test in the event that they are arrested for suspected drunk driving.

However, several groups backing the defendants, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DDLA), have argued that the government cannot criminalize conduct protected by the Fourth Amendment. One cannot truly give “implied consent” to take a breathalyzer test when they get their license if they know that they will face criminal sanctions for refusing to take the test. The DDLA argued that there are better ways to deter drunk driving, including creating an electronic warrant system, setting up sobriety checkpoints, providing alcohol abuse treatment, and requiring the use of ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers.

So how did the justices come down on the issue? Justice Samuel Alito was the only justice who seemed to be strongly in favor of criminalizing refusal, and he emphasized that breathalyzer tests are only a minimal intrusion. He expressed that the only reason people don’t want to submit to a breathalyzer test is because they don’t want their blood alcohol measured, it is not that they object to blowing into a straw. Justice Kagan seemed to agree with this line of reasoning, noting that police have an interest in testing a driver’s breath as quickly as possible, before their blood alcohol content (BAC) goes down.

Ultimately, the states were unable to come up with a persuasive reason why police cannot secure a warrant while transporting suspects to the police station or hospital for testing. Forty states now utilize electronic warrant systems.

Although it is not a crime to refuse to take a breathalyzer test in New Jersey, there are harsh civil penalties, including fines, motor vehicles surcharges, a long suspension of driving privileges and special sentencing enhancements if the refusal occurs within a school zone. A refusal can also be used to draw an inference of guilt in a DUI trial. If you are pulled over in New Jersey for a suspected DUI, the police can detain you and bring you to a hospital where staff may draw blood.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Represents Drivers Who Have Refused Chemical Testing

If you were arrested for drunk driving and refused to submit to chemical testing, you are likely facing steep penalties. In addition to a DWI charge, you are probably also facing penalties for refusing to take the breathalyzer test. To speak to an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer and begin building your defense, 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 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.

 

New Jersey Drunk Driving Lawyer – What is the Intoxicated Driving Program (IDP)?

If you are convicted of a drug or alcohol related traffic offense in New Jersey, not only will you face fines, fees, surcharges, a loss of driving privileges, and installation of an ignition interlock device, but you will also be required to participate in a program at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC).  This program consists of a series of classes intended to educate drivers and identify individuals who are at risk for drug addiction and alcoholism.  This mandatory program is called the Intoxicated Driving Program (IDP).

Where Is The Program Held?

The court will notify you when and where you need to go to report for your IDRC session.  New Jersey has an IDRC in every county for first and third-time offenders, and three regional centers for second-time offenders.  You will probably be required to attend IDRC classes in the county where you were convicted, and in the same town where the county court is located.

How Much Does the Program Cost?

When you are notified that your license has been suspended, you will owe additional fees to the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) and the IDRC for the classes, including the following charges:

  • $100 attendance fee (paid to the MVC)
  • $230 first-time offender fee (paid to the IDRC)
  • $280 second-time offender fee (paid to the IDRC)
  • $100 license restoration fee (paid to the MVC)

To check the latest information about IDRC fees and locations, see the State of New Jersey’s website here: http://www.state.nj.us/mvc/Violations/dui_Intoxicated.htm

How Long Does the Program Take?

If you are a first-time offender, you will be required to complete a 12-hour course.  Classes are usually held on weekdays.

If you are a second-time offender, you must attend a 48-hour session.  The session is usually held while you are being detained overnight on the weekend.

If you are a third-time offender, you must take a 12-48 hour class while being detained.  During the course of your detainment, you will be assessed and referred for additional treatment to be completed when you have finished the IDRC program.

The IDRC has discretion to send any driver who requires additional treatment to a 16-week-long program.

What Will I Do in the IDP?

When beginning the IDP, you will first complete a questionnaire.  Then, you will attend a series of educational classes about drunk driving.  During these classes, you may have to watch graphic video of car accidents caused by drunk drivers.  The educational component also includes active discussion periods.  Topics include social drinking and problem drinking, the stages of alcoholism, how alcohol affects our families, jobs and relationships, and basics of New Jersey drunk driving law.

You will also be assigned to a counselor, who will assess your personal situation and determine whether you need additional assistance.  Depending on the outcome of your assessment, you may be referred for counseling, an addiction treatment program or mandatory support group attendance to address the problems that lead to your DWI conviction.

The IDRC may require monitored treatment or self-help group attendance for up to one year.  If you are referred for treatment, it will be for a minimum of sixteen weeks.  These treatment programs become a part of the mandatory sentence for your DWI conviction.  Individuals are encouraged to supplement any referred treatment with his or her own meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Your driving privileges will only be restored after serving all your court and MVC-imposed suspensions, and when you have successfully completed all the IDP and IDRC requirements.

Individuals are responsible for the costs of all additional recommended services and treatment.

What If I Need to Reschedule my IDRC Appointment?

The IDRC will only accept four justifications for rescheduling appointments, each of which must be supported by appropriate documentation such as an obituary, doctor’s note or letter from your employer.  The four justifications include:

  • A personal or family health emergency;
  • Death in the family within ten days prior to the scheduled appointment;
  • A documented emergency; or
  • A family emergency.

What If I Don’t Show Up for IDRC?

If you fail to show up for IDRC without having an excused absence, fail to pay, or fail to complete the prescribed programs, you will be deemed non-compliant.  You will then be referred to the original sentencing court and the MVC for appropriate action.  You may face an extended period of license suspension, and two days in jail for failure to comply.  You will still need to complete the IDP/IDRC program.

What If I Do Not Reside in New Jersey?

Even if you live out of state, you must still comply with the IDRC requirements.  If you live within driving distance of a New Jersey IDRC, you will be scheduled to appear there.  If not, you may be given an opportunity to complete the requirements in your home state.

Take Charge of Your Future – Start Preparing Your DWI Defense Today

Respected New Jersey DWI lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich has a unique advantage over many DWI lawyers, having served over 23 years in law enforcement.  If you have been charged with drunk driving, we can use our extensive experience to your advantage.  To discuss your situation, 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.