When a person is stopped and arrested for driving while intoxicated in New Jersey, there are numerous issues that will go through their minds as to what is going to happen to them as a result. They might believe there are certain things that will happen from the time law enforcement stops their vehicle all the way through the resolution of the case. Many of the preconceived notions they have are myths they have heard repeatedly through word-of-mouth or on television. In many circumstances, these myths may not be 100 percent accurate or they might not be accurate at all.
DWI Myth: Breathalyzer Results Are 100 Percent Accurate
While breathalyzer tests are used to determine a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC), that doesn’t mean they’re infallible. That is a breathalyzer myth. The officer must know how to operate the machine correctly and the machine must be in proper working order to be deemed as an accurate gauge as to the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system. Defense attorneys might lodge a successful defense of their clients if the machine was not administered properly with the officer following accepted protocol or if it can be proven there was something faulty with the machine. If a mistake was made when administering the test, the evidence could be ruled inadmissible, ruining what was a vast portion of the foundation for the arrest.
DWI Myth: Field Sobriety Tests Prove A Driver Is Intoxicated
When a law enforcement officer is investigating a possible DWI in New Jersey, field sobriety tests such as the walk-and-turn and numerous others will be used. The officer will use the driver’s performance on these tests to justify an arrest for DWI, but a poor showing on these tests doesn’t necessarily mean that the driver is intoxicated. There could be other issues that cause a driver to fail field sobriety tests such as giving the test on a surface that is uneven or a medical condition that the driver has preventing adequate completion to show sobriety. These tests are not scientific. They can, however, be used as part of the checklist of reasons an officer will use to make an arrest. The driver can be held until a breathalyzer or blood test is given to determine the BAC as a result of field sobriety tests.
DWI Myth: The Driver’s BAC Must Be 0.08% Or Above To Be Convicted Of DWI
While the number 0.08% BAC for drivers over the age of 21 is the baseline for a DWI arrest, it is possible to be arrested and convicted of DWI even with a lower percentage of BAC. If, for example, the officer witnessed the driver driving erratically in a manner that was consistent with intoxication, gave the driver field sobriety tests that were not completed in accordance with sobriety and the driver showed evidence of being intoxicated, the prosecution might have enough evidence to warrant a DWI charge and conviction.
DWI Myth: Drivers Who Refuse To Take A Breath Test Can’t Be Charged With DWI
Refusing a breathalyzer test is a violation in and of itself. This is separate from a DWI charge. Because of that, even if you are not driving while intoxicated and didn’t have a BAC that was above the legal limit for alcohol in the system, you can still face charges for refusing to take the test. There is a law of implied consent in New Jersey when you have a driver’s license meaning that you automatically agree to take the test if asked to do so when you have your driver’s license. The penalties for refusal are the same as if you took the test and registered above the legal limit with a driver’s license suspension and fines.
DWI Myth: A DWI Conviction Will Result In Points On The Driver’s License
There are no points placed on the driver’s license for a DWI conviction. Even with that fact, there are enough punishments accompanying a DWI conviction that the absence of points being placed on the license is small consolation. A driver will have his or her driving privileges suspended, will need to pay fines and surcharges, and could face jail time. If the BAC is high enough or the driver has been convicted of multiple offenses, an ignition interlock device will be placed on the driver’s vehicle.
DWI Myth: Drivers Who Have Been Convicted Can Receive A Temporary Work License
In some states, drivers who have been convicted of DWI will be allowed to have a temporary work license. New Jersey is not one of them. A person who is convicted of a DWI will face a driver’s license suspension. For a first offense with a BAC of between 0.08% and below 0.10%, the suspension is not lengthy, but it is still suspended meaning the driver cannot drive. This can cause a great hardship on a person who drives for a living, needs their vehicle to get to and from work, or are taking care of family members by driving.
DWI Myth: A DWI Conviction Can Be Expunged From The Record
A DWI conviction cannot be expunged from the driver’s record in New Jersey. This is not as much of a negative as it appears at first glance. Unbeknownst to many, a DWI in New Jersey is not a criminal offense, but a traffic violation. Because of that, there will be no need to request an expungement from the record.
Understanding DWI Laws In New Jersey
As the list of common myths regarding DWI charges in New Jersey shows, there are numerous misconceptions about how a driver can be charged with DWI and what happens in the aftermath. Not having the proper information can lead to mistakes that might not necessarily be made if the driver knew the facts. Attorneys are able to help drivers who are charged with DWI in New Jersey understand these myths and avoid having them cause a problem for them as the case moves forward.