Top 10 Common Myths & Misconceptions About NJ DWI & DUI Charges (PART II)
Experienced DWI/DUI Law Attorneys providing counsel in Westfield, Elizabeth, Union, Linden, and the greater Union County area
We continue our article released last month about the most common Myths and Misconceptions about DWI & DUI Charges Part I.
Myth 6: I Must Be Guilty Since I Have a Scheduled Court Appearance
Although it is understandably common to experience a sense of hopelessness after an arrest, the right attorney can assess the value and quality of the evidence that might be presented against you, as well as the quality of the information you have to support your defense, as well as strategically assess several factors related to it that could lead to a dismissal of the charges.
There are defenses to beat DUI/DWIs in the state of New Jersey. Having a meaningful conversation and consultation with the right attorney can help you decide on the best course of action and give you back some of the power and some of the rights afforded to you.
Myth 7: If You’re Not Driving, You Can’t be Charged with a DUI/DWI in NJ
It is important for Elizabeth, NJ residents to understand that they can be arrested, and charged with a DUI/DWI, even if they are simply seated in a parked motor vehicle while intoxicated.
If a police officer knows that the person was recently behind the wheel and is incapacitated or inebriated because of drugs or alcohol, they can charge you with a DUI. It doesn’t matter if you pulled over to the side of the road to wait or sleep it off. Operating a motor vehicle for any amount of time while intoxicated is illegal. Regardless of whether you were already intoxicated when you started driving or started drinking after you got to the location, you might still require a lawyer.
Myth 8: I Refused a Breathalyzer, So Police Don’t Have Evidence Against Me
Sadly this is untrue and does not mean you won’t be charged with a DUI/DWI. Breathalyzers, Intoxilyzers, providing a urine sample, and drawing blood are all chemical tests. Even if you don’t supply law enforcement with a sample for any of the aforementioned chemical tests, the state may still try to prosecute you with the common law or observation DUI.
In cases of observation DUI or DUI by police observation, a police officer testifies about your basic condition on that day and comments on how you were operating the motor vehicle. Officers will generally comment about whether or not you were driving erratically, carelessly, or recklessly and will establish elements called “observations.” These observations may include slurred speech, the odor of alcohol, unsteady feet, bloodshot and watery eyes, or that you failed a field sobriety test. You admitting to the officer that you had been drinking is not necessarily an observation, but such as statement could be against your own interest.
Examples of DUI observation videos are police bodycams or dashcam footage, which shows the interaction between the police officer and yourself. In situations where Field Sobriety Tests are viewable, this can help your defense prove that you were not driving a vehicle in an intoxicated state.
Myth 9: You Are Legally Obligated to Perform A Field Sobriety Test in NJ
A common mistake drivers make is submitting to the police officer’s requests to perform field sobriety tests. Although there is a legal requirement that you take the breathalyzer, there is no legal requirement that you comply with an officer’s instructions to perform field sobriety tests.
The field sobriety tests are not a tool to assist you but assist the police officer in proving that you are intoxicated based on their observations. Refusing to comply with the police officers’ requests to perform field sobriety tests is not illegal. The police officer may be angry at your refusal, but the reality is that field sobriety tests are used to convict you at trial.
Myth 10: I’m on Prescription Medicine. So, I Won’t Be Charged With a DUI.
False. Prescription medication should be taken responsibly, and warnings listed on them should be taken seriously. If it says you should not drive after taking it, don’t. If there is impairment due to the prescription medicine, a person can be successfully prosecuted. In a DUI case, you may be charged with being under the influence for substances other than alcohol. You can be prosecuted and even found guilty of being impaired by prescription medication.
In general, it’s ALWAYS recommended to carry one’s prescription drugs in the container they came in from the pharmacy or doctor’s office because it should show both your name and the name of the prescribing doctor. Without that, it could be problematic, especially if you become impaired and involved in a traffic stop or traffic offense and the police discover the medication in the car. In circumstances like this, as the driver, you could be charged with both possession of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of a CDS in a motor vehicle, leaving you exposed to both the criminal and motor vehicle penalties associated with these offenses.
Contact a Linden NJ DUI/DWI Defense Attorney for Immediate Assistance
If you or a loved one is confronting charges for DWI or DUI in New Jersey, it is essential to have a complete understanding of the charges against you, the potential penalties associated with a conviction, and the collateral issues which may work to your advantage or undermine your chances for achieving a successful outcome.