Mishandling of Evidence in DWI Arrests
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a traffic offense in New Jersey punishable by up to 180 days in county jail, suspended driver’s license for a period of 10 years, and a $1,000 fine. In addition to these penalties, DWI arrests will show on your driving record for as long as a decade.
Considering the seriousness of these charges, one would think the evidence would be collected meticulously and with adherence to strict state laws. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, leading to false positives, and ultimately convictions of innocent individuals.
Today, our criminal defense law firm will discuss how evidence can be improperly gathered in DWI cases, examples of previous law enforcement misconduct, and how to protect your legal rights when wrongfully charged with a DUI/DWI.
Westfield DWI Attorney Discusses Evidence Gathering Process
Proving guilt for a DWI or DUI in New Jersey is actually a legally complex and highly regulated process. Arresting officers must go through the following protocols in order to follow legal guidelines:
- Perform a legal traffic stop
- Administer a field sobriety test
- Allow a 20 minute observation period
- Accurately administer a blood alcohol concentration test after that 20 minute period
Our Westfield attorney understands that failure to legally perform even one of these actions can lead to your DWI case being dismissed. For example, if your traffic stop took place without reasonable suspicion, or you passed your field sobriety test and were still arrested, we can file a motion to have your drunk driving arrest thrown out.
Recent Union County DWI Evidence Tampering Case
In a recent case reported by NJ.com, State Police Sergeant Marc Dennis was accused of tampering with evidence in DWI cases across New Jersey including Union County. Some 20,667 cases have been earmarked as being affected by this alleged misconduct. Accusations stem from Sgt. Dennis failing to re-calibrate BAC testing devices as is legally required in New Jersey.
Sgt. Dennis was formally charged with second-degree misconduct, third-degree tampering with public records, and fourth-degree falsifying records. The misconduct charge has since been dropped. It is important to note that allegations of misconduct are limited to failing to calibrate just three (3) Alcotest devices. However, even this seemingly minor oversight has led to reasonable doubt that he performed adequate re-calibrations on the machines for which he was responsible over five (5) New Jersey counties.
Plainfield Criminal Defense Lawyer Identifies Impact on Clients
So what does this mean for individuals facing DWI charges or those who have been recently found guilty? Our Plainfield criminal defense lawyer believes that can only be accurately answered on a case-by-case basis, but in general terms, it means that we will examine every aspect of your case to determine whether there was any law enforcement misconduct which may have led to an unlawful arrest or conviction.
In regards to the case of Police Sergeant Dennis, it is unlikely that the 20,000 odd convictions which have since fallen under suspicion will be reversed or lessened. However, there is reason to believe that for future DWI proceedings, judges will lean towards the side of dismissal if similar situations should arise.
If you or a loved one face Driving While Intoxicated or Driving Under the Influence charges, or if you believe your recent case may be eligible for appeal, call our office today to learn more about how we can serve your individual needs.
Contact an Experienced Linden DWI Defense Attorney Today
At The Law Offices of Edward S. Cooper, Esq., we believe that everyone is entitled to due process whether they are facing felony criminal charges, disorderly persons offenses, or traffic violations. Our firm has been protecting the legal rights of our clients in the face of evidence tampering for nearly three decades in local New Jersey communities including Linden, Union, Westfield, Scotch Plains, Elizabeth, Plainfield, and all of Union County. You do not need to fight this legal battle alone.
Contact us online or give us a call through our Linden office by dialing (908) 481-4625 today for a confidential consultation with our qualified legal staff regarding your DWI or DUI charges and to learn more about how we can best serve your needs.