Articles Posted in Case Summaries

Here are a couple important cases regarding DWI drug charges in New Jersey:

State v. Bealor, 187 N.J. 574 (2006)

The NJ Supreme Court held that competent lay observations of the fact of intoxication, coupled with additional independent proofs tending to demonstrate defendant’s consumption of narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drugs as of the time of the defendant’s arrest, constitute sufficient proofs to establish DWI beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here are some important cases governing multiple DWI offenses and categorization of offenders in New Jersey:

State v. Burroughs, 349 N.J. Super 225(2002)

The court held that the defendant was subject to third offender treatment, although more than ten years elapsed between his first and second drunk driving offenses, where less than ten years elapsed between his second and third drunk driving offenses.

Here are some important cases regarding roadblocks in DWI cases in New Jersey:

State v. Kirk, 202 N.J. Super 28(1985)

The court held that temporary road block set up by exercise of absolute, unbridled discretion of officers in field is violative of State Constitutional provision against unreasonable seizure; however, if certain procedures set forth, ensuring supervisory control of checkpoints and warnings to motorists, are carefully followed, any constitutional objections will be overcome.

A parent or guardian who allows an underage person to gamble in Atlantic City, New Jersey is guilty of a disorderly persons offense. The statute which governs this charge is N.J.S. 5:12-119(c) which provides:

N.J. Stat. § 5:12-119 (2010) Gaming by certain persons prohibited; penalties; defenses

c. A person who knowingly allows or permits another person who is under his or her lawful care, custody, or control and who is under the age at which a person is authorized to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages to wager or attempt to wager in a licensed casino or simulcasting facility in violation of subsection a. of this section is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.

My office handled many cases this summer in Jersey Shore towns including Manasquan, Belmar, and Seaside Heights with clients charged with underage possession of alcohol, underage driving while intoxicated (DWI), and possession of a fake ID.

One typical example is underage individuals who were charged with possession of a Fake ID in Belmar Municipal Court after attempting to get into a bar or a liquor store with false identification. This is a criminal offense in New Jersey and leads to a permanent criminal charge on your record if convicted. However, our experienced criminal defense lawyers were extremely successful in negotiating a downgrade of this criminal offense to a violation of a municipal ordinance. This results in a fine ($1,250.00 in Belmar Municipal Court) and no criminal charge on your record. The prosecutor will consider your background (any prior criminal history), your age, the circumstances of your arrest (if you were cooperative with law enforcement), and the evidence that the State possesses to prove the charges against you.

If you plead guilty to possession of a fake ID, this is a disorderly persons offense and includes up to six (6) months in the county jail. Moreover, this will lead to a criminal charge on your record which will show up on background checks for future educational and employment opportunities. Obviously for a young person, this can have a significant negative impact on your future. However, you can file for an expungement of this criminal charge five (5) years from the date of your conviction. If you plead guilty to a downgraded violation of a municipal ordinance, you can file for an expungement two (2) years after the violation. If the charges are dismissed entirely, you can file for an expungement immediately to have the arrest removed from your record.

Providing alcohol to minors is a criminal offense in New Jersey under N.J.S. 2C:33-17. This is known as a disorderly persons offense which includes up to six (6) months in the county jail, up to a $1,000.00 fine, and a permanent criminal charge on your record if convicted. This conviction can be expunged off your record after five (5) years in certain circumstances depending on any other criminal history. These charges will be handled in the Municipal Court in the municipality in which the arrest was made. For example, if you are arrested for providing alcohol to minors in Sea Bright, New Jersey, this matter will be handled in the Sea Bright Municipal Court. The statute governing charges for providing alcohol to minors states in pertinent part:

§ 2C:33-17. Availability of alcoholic beverages to underaged, offenses

a. Anyone who purposely or knowingly offers or serves or makes available an alcoholic beverage to a person under the legal age for consuming alcoholic beverages or entices or encourages that person to drink an alcoholic beverage is a disorderly person.

Our law firm recently represented a client who was charged with his third driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He was also charged with driving with a suspended license in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-40. A third drunk driving conviction in New Jersey results in a ten (10) year license suspension and six (6) months in the county jail (ninety (90) days of which can be served at an approved in-patient rehabilitation facility). Moreover, the client had multiple prior driving while suspended charges on his record and was facing an additional 1-2 year license suspension and an additional 20-100 days in the county jail based on the driving while suspended charge.

Several reputable union county criminal lawyers declined to take the defendant’s case because “there was nothing they could do” to help him and keep the defendant out of jail. As you can see, the defendant was exposed to more than eleven (11) years in driver’s license suspensions and mandatory seven (7) months to (1) year in jail based on these charges. Our firm was hired to represent the defendant against these charges in Elizabeth Municipal Court. Two members of my criminal trial team, Colin Bonus and Travis Tormey, appeared several times in attacking the State’s case from several angles. The breath test readings were suppressed based on a Motion to Suppress evidence as there was a 20-minute issue as to the observation of the defendant prior to submitting his breath sample on the Alcotest machine. Moroever, the foundational documents provided by the State associated with the breath testing device were flawed and were not in accordance with State v. Chun. As a result, and because the State could not prove the drunk driving charge on the physical observations, as no field sobriety testing had been done, the driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge was dismissed. Further, my firm worked out a downgrade of the other charges so that the client did not lose his license at all and avoided any jail time. As you can imagine, this was a tremendous result for the client and the firm.

This case is an example of the type of defenses which are available in drunk driving cases in New Jersey if the right attorneys are involved. Our criminal defense trial team will examine the facts of your case, review the discovery package provided by the State, consult with experts and obtain an expert report if necessary, and take the case to trial if the circumstances warrant. Please contact any of my offices anytime for a free initial consultation at (732)450-8300.

The criminal defense attorneys at my firm frequently appear in Clark Municipal Court in Clark, New Jersey. With offices conveniently located in Cranford and Morristown, our firm represents clients throughout New Jersey, including Union County and Morris County. The Clark Municipal Court is located at 315 Westfield Avenue, Clark, NJ 07066-1797. The main telephone number for the court is (732)381-5395. The fax number for the court is (732)381-9630. The court personnel is as follows:

  • Judge: Antonio Inacio, J.M.C.
  • Prosecutor: Jon-Henry Barr, esq.

Here is some important precedent regarding proof of intoxication for DWI cases in New Jersey:

State v. Johnson, 42 N.J. 146 (1964)

The court held that proof of intoxication may be established either through breath test or other toxicology tests, or by other evidence such as the driver’s own admissions or his performance of psycho-physical tests.

Here are some important cases regarding proper DWI stops in New Jersey:

State v. Carpentieri, 82 N.J. 546 (1980)

The police must have an articulable and reasonable suspicion that a violation of the traffic laws has occurred in order to effectuate a stop for DWI. Basically, the New Jersey Supreme Court in this case applied the United States Supreme Court decision holding random traffic stops invalid but applied this rule only to those stops that occurred after the Supreme Court decision.

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