Getting a DWI in New Jersey is a criminal offense that will change a person’s life if the charges result in conviction. The whole experience of getting pulled over, having to submit to sobriety tests, and then facing arrest and a trip to the station is painful and embarrassing enough. But driving restrictions from a license suspension can also create hardships, such as job loss and other disruptions to a person’s life.
Many people will refuse to cooperate when law enforcement tries to administer sobriety or breathalyzer test, thinking that this will prevent the officers from gathering the evidence necessary to make an arrest. It is important to remember, however, that under New Jersey laws, an officer can make an arrest based on observations of the accused, with or without the breath test.
When faced with DWI charges, it is important for residents of Essex County to know how to build a strong defense that protects their rights and minimizes the penalties that may result from a conviction.
Is the best defense a strong offense?
When an officer stops someone who they think is drunk or otherwise impaired, they do not yet have any hard evidence to prove their suspicion. Building a strong enough case to the make the charges stick will require evidence that will hold up in court, such as the results of a breath or chemical test.
The suspect’s defense team may go on the attack by throwing into doubt the officer’s credibility or questioning their arresting procedures or the accuracy of the breath or blood test. Sometimes, the results of a blood alcohol content test can be inaccurate if the delay in absorption is higher when the officer administers the test than when the driver was behind the wheel.
Affirmative defenses to a DWI charge
Depending on the circumstances of the case, some affirmative defenses that may be appropriate include:
- Entrapment, if the officer encouraged the driver to drink.
- Involuntary impairment, where the driver drank alcohol without their knowledge.
- Necessity, in which the driver had no choice but to DWI.
- Duress, if someone or something caused the driver to be DWI.
- Mistake of fact, if the driver was driving impaired by prescription medication when they believed it was no longer in their system.
Although rare, such defense are effective in some situations, so it is important to understand all the legal options you have when you are fighting for your rights.