This is a big weekend for DWI/DUI in New Jersey for two reasons. First
it is Super Bowl weekend and second our team, the New York Football Giants,
are playing and will likely win the Super Bowl. It should be noted that
even though our team is called the New York Football Giants, everyone
knows that they really are New Jersey's team and have been since they
moved here in 1976.
Yesterday New Jersey's Attorney General Jeff Chiesa announced that there will be stepped up DWI/DUI patrols on toll roads in New Jersey all weekend. Expect local municipalities to follow suit. Not only is this a festive weekend but it is also a dangerous weekend on the roads.
What can you do to avoid getting stopped and prosecuted for DWI in New Jersey this weekend?
The obvious answer is stay home. However, if you are like many people and
you want to be with your friends and other Giants fans while watching
the game, your best bet is to not drink or to select a designated driver.
If none of these scenarios work for you, here are some tips about what
to expect and what to do if you are stopped for a DWI this weekend. See
The DWI Stop in New Jersey.
First, before you get on the road this weekend make sure your license, registration and insurance information are all up to date and make sure they are all in one place in your vehicle where you can get to them quickly. Fumbling for credentials is one of the things that police, prosecutors and courts look at when deciding whether someone is under the influence. By putting all credentials in one easily accessible place you are taking this argument away from the prosecution.
Second, comply with the police officer's requests and instructions.
The police officer's job is difficult and dangerous to begin with.
An arrogant, annoyed or angry driver will only make things worse. If you
act politely and professionally it is more likely that law enforcement
will act professionally and will not jump to any hasty conclusions about
Third, be careful what you say. A DWI stop is not the time to be chatty or to make unnecessary admissions. Law enforcement will ask you where you were, how much you had to drink and when you last had something to drink. The only hard and fast rule here is do not lie. Remember, whatever you say will likely be reduced to a written report by the police. If you admit to drinking and admit to how much you had to drink, if you are charged these statements will be used against you.
Fourth, when asked to perform the standardized field sobriety tests ("SFST") make sure you understand the instructions. These tests are often difficult to perform under ideal conditions where no alcohol has been consumed. In the context of a DWI stop they are even more difficult because the driver is often nervous and upset. There is nothing wrong with asking the police officer to slowly repeat the test instructions. It is critically important that you understand the test before you attempt to perform it. If you are charged the results on these tests (along with the Alcotest) will become the cornerstone of the prosecution. Note that even if you ultimately do well on the tests, if you fail to follow instructions this will be noted in the report and can be used as one of the factors to measure your sobriety. Make sure you understand the directions and follow them precisely.
Fifth, to the extent you can, take steps to make sure that the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are performed on a surface that you are comfortable with and make sure that you are not wearing shoes that will make the tests more difficult. While the driver cannot dictate the conditions the SFSTs are taken under, there is nothing wrong with requesting that the tests be performed under the best conditions possible.
Sixth, if you are arrested remember the law on refusal in New Jersey. See New Jersey's DWI Refusal Statute. Under New Jersey law one cannot refuse to submit to a breath test. If you refuse you will be likely be charged with a refusal as well as with a DWI. Not only is it against the law to refuse to submit to a breath test in New Jersey but a refusal also eliminates virtually all of the traditional defenses associated with the administration of the Alcotest (the device used to measure sobriety in New Jersey).
Finally, remain calm. If you have been arrested for any criminal charge in New Jersey, a DWI/DUI or if you are given a summons based upon a stop from a sobriety checkpoint or roadblock and need professional advice, call Brickfield & Donahue at (201) 488-7707 to set up a free case evaluation and consultation. Keep in mind that nothing contained in this post should be considered legal advice. If you have a specific legal issue or problem, consult an attorney.