Charges of DUI in New Jersey can lead to serious legal consequences such as restrictions on your ability to drive, suspensions on your license, the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicles, and imprisonment if you are convicted. The repercussions of a DUI conviction can affect not only your personal life but also your professional prospects.
DUI charges can sometimes be dismissed if you have the assistance of an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer. A skilled attorney can help you understand the impact of your charges and represent your best interests in court. At The Kugel Law Firm, we thoroughly investigate the cases we handle, which allows us to build a personalized legal defense. We understand the severity of DUI charges and work hard to represent our clients’ best interests. Our trial-ready attorneys are available for a consultation. Call (973) 854-0098 today to schedule a free strategy session today.
Can a DUI be dismissed?
In New Jersey, the possibility of dismissing a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge exists under certain circumstances, depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the evidence presented. There are several ways a DUI charge may be dismissed in New Jersey, including:
- Breathalyzer misuse by arresting officer: The breathalyzer, a device used to measure blood alcohol levels, has been in use in New Jersey for decades. However, due to its susceptibility to misuse, faulty readings can occur.
- Non-compliance with legal procedures by arresting officer: During a DUI arrest, strict legal procedures must be followed. Failure to adhere to these protocols, such as improper checkpoint setup or insufficient probable cause for a field test, could lead to the case being dismissed. Moreover, it is crucial that the arresting officer reads a driver’s Miranda rights when placing them under arrest.
- Use of non-standard field sobriety test by arresting officer: The approval of standardized field sobriety tests for determining intoxication levels is granted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Deviating from the prescribed measures when evaluating inebriation may result in case dismissal. Moreover, as legal alcohol concentration limits have decreased over the years, questions have been raised about the accuracy of some Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, potentially impacting the validity of the test results.
If you’re facing a DUI charge in New Jersey and wondering about the possibility of your case’s dismissal, it’s essential to consult with a New Jersey DUI lawyer. At The Kugel Law Firm, our lawyers are well-versed in the intricacies of DUI cases and can employ effective strategies to challenge the evidence, question the validity of sobriety tests, and identify potential procedural errors. Contact us today to build a strong defense and to achieve the best outcome possible in your situation.
Is It Possible To Negotiate a Plea Bargain for a DUI Charge in New Jersey?
A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant regarding the terms of the case. In a plea agreement, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to lesser charges than the original charges in exchange for the more serious charges being dismissed.
In some instances what is meant by “bargain” is where a defendant pleads guilty to the original charge in exchange for lesser penalties during sentencing. For these cases, the prosecutor will recommend the minimum sentencing penalties, but it is up to the judge if they choose to follow the prosecutor’s recommendations.
While plea bargains happen regularly in the New Jersey criminal justice system, some charges such as DWI cannot be commuted or mitigated. Also, a DUI/DWI charge in New Jersey is treated as a quasi-criminal offense, meaning that, while it does not go into a defendant’s criminal history, the penalties upon a conviction can still be severe.
In 2005, the state issued guidelines regarding how the prosecution should treat DWI charges as well as DWI charges wherein the defendant refused a chemical test. In the interest of uniformity in the prosecution of these charges in New Jersey, defendants charged under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 (the impaired driving statute) and N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2 (the statute concerned with the refusal of the BAC test) are not to be given the opportunity to use a plea bargain to reduce or commute their charges.
One of the limited exceptions to this rule is when a defendant has been charged with both a DWI and a test refusal charge on a second or subsequent offense court may be open to allow a dismissal of the refusal charge if the defendant pleads guilty to the DWI. In cases where there are multiple charges levied against the defendant and these charges are not related to the DWI or not a charge under statutes limiting plea bargaining, a prosecutor may offer to commute the charges or dismiss them.
While using a plea bargain and commuting DWI charges have been prohibited by the law, it is still possible to get a DWI charge dismissed or reduced when there is a legal reason to do so. If there is a breach in the protocol or lack of evidence that could lessen the chances of a prosecutor making a case against the defendant, the prosecutor can dismiss the DWI charges with the approval of a judge. This would not be a “plea bargain” and therefore can be accepted under the right circumstances.
The rate of dismissal for DUI charges in New Jersey in 2018 was 24% which is double the rate of dismissals in 2008. There is a one in four chance that your charges would be dropped. To further increase your chances of a dismissal, seeking the help of an experienced DWI attorney who can thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your case to identify any inconsistencies is important. Contact The Kugel Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help and to schedule a free strategy session.
Elements of a DUI/DWI Charge
The elements in a legal charge are the factors that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. In a DWI case, the following circumstances must be proven to convict the defendant successfully.
- That the defendant was operating a vehicle
- That the defendant’s driving capacity was impaired due to the influence of alcohol or drugs or that they had an illegal amount of drugs or alcohol in their system while they were driving the vehicle
Aside from these two elements, the defense can also challenge other facts of the case such as the legitimacy of the traffic stop, whether the arresting officers did the proper procedure, whether the field sobriety tests were administered properly, and how the court handled the case.
At The Kugel Law Firm, top-rated DWI attorney Rachel Kugel is familiar with the ins and outs of a DWI charge. Our team of legal professionals can help you understand your charges and represent your best interests in court. Schedule a free strategy session today.
Possible Defenses to New Jersey DUI Charges
When trying to get a charge dismissed, the defense can challenge the legal basis of the charges or the facts of the case itself. This can be done through careful investigation and scrutiny of the evidence and the statements of the defendant as well as the arresting officers, among other things. Possible defenses can include:
Lack of Probable Cause
The New Jersey Constitution prohibits conducting illegal and unreasonable searches and seizures. When you get pulled over by law enforcement, they must have probable cause as to why they are making the traffic stop. Probably cause means that there is a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed or that you were committing a motor vehicle offense when you were stopped. If the probable cause cannot be established, any evidence gathered through the arrest is considered “fruit of the poisonous tree” and will be inadmissible in court. Thus the charges can be dismissed.
Violations in the Arrest Protocol
Defendants in a DWI case have to be read their Miranda rights when an arrest is being made. It is also important that the person being arrested is clearly informed that they are under arrest. If the defendant is not read their rights upon the arrest can cause any evidence gathered in custody to be inadmissible in court. Miranda rights are a requirement upheld by the US Constitution.
For instances of a test refusal, defendants should also be read an implied consent warning in a language they understand.
Challenging the Evidence
The breath test, the chemical test, the field sobriety test, and even the arresting officer’s recollection of the arrest can all be challenged as part of the defense. If the tests were administered incorrectly or if there are circumstances that caused a false positive, it can serve as a viable challenge to the prosecution’s case.
In New Jersey, law enforcement officers need a certification to be able to administer a breath test. If the arresting officer does not have the necessary and current credentials, it can nullify the results of the breath test and render this evidence inadmissible. Breath tests are also required to be calibrated and information regarding the foundational documentation must be provided to the defense during the discovery period.
The same thing applies to field sobriety tests. Only tests approved by the NHTSA have been studied and found to be meaningful in determining the merits of a DWI prosecution. The use of non-standardized sobriety tests, while not banned, often do not carry much evidentiary weight. The tests should also be conducted in a well-lit area with no debris around. The defendant’s physical constitution should also be able to withstand the test. Attributes like being overweight, over a certain age, or suffering with physical limitations or medical issues should be taken into consideration by the officer evaluating these tests.
The defense is also welcome to introduce its own evidence. What seems to be red eyes due to being intoxicated can be a result of allergies. What the arresting officers observed as impaired driving behavior can be a result of an underlying medical condition. Additional corroboration by a medical expert or a specialist may be necessary for these circumstances.
The prosecution is required to provide evidence relevant to the DUI/DWI charges as part of the discovery process. If this is not followed, the defense can file a motion to force the prosecution to produce the evidence. If they still do not comply with the court’s order, the case may be dismissed entirely.
The defendant also has the right to a speedy trial. DUI/DWI cases are supposed to be resolved within 60 days. Any delays caused by the prosecutor which cause the case to surpass this threshold can be used as grounds to dismiss the charges.
Depending on the circumstances of your specific DUI/DWI case, a different defense could be more applicable. At The Kugel Law Firm, we provide quality legal counsel and representation and work diligently to investigate and build the best defense strategy applicable. We understand that a DWI conviction can have long-standing consequences on a person’s life. You don’t have to face your charges alone. Contact us today at (973) 854-0098 to schedule a consultation.
|Possible Defenses to New Jersey DUI Charges||Description|
|Lack of Probable Cause||Challenge the legality of the traffic stop and arrest, arguing that there was no reasonable suspicion of a crime or motor vehicle offense.|
|Violations in the Arrest Protocol||Assert that the defendant’s Miranda rights were not read or implied consent warning not given, leading to potential inadmissibility of evidence.|
|Challenging the Evidence||Challenge the accuracy and validity of the breath, chemical, and field sobriety tests as well as the arresting officer’s recollection of the arrest.|
|Legal Inadequacies||Demand the prosecution to provide relevant evidence as part of the discovery process and ensure a speedy trial to avoid dismissal of the case.|