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Field Sobriety Checkpoints During The Holiday Season
It seems like every holiday season some law enforcement agency is ramping up DWI enforcement. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office has indicated that police departments have been provided with additional funding to conduct field sobriety checkpoints (a.k.a. DWI roadblocks). The goal of this measure is to promote roadway safety by deterring driving while intoxicated and operating under the influence of drugs.
If you were arrested and charged with DWI/DUI as a result of a checkpoint, there are a few things you should know. The first thing is that all hope has not been lost. While you were not stopped because you were driving erratically or another manner which brought you to the attention of police, there are strict rules for conducting sobriety roadblocks. There are set guidelines for selection of locations for checkpoints in the county’s busiest drunk driving municipalities of Woodbridge and East Brunswick, as well as any other town in this region. There must be valid data to support the decision and also reporting of the presence of the checkpoint to the public. When one of these steps is missed or is performed improperly, an experienced Woodbridge DWI lawyer or East Brunswick DWI defense attorney can invalidate the stop and resulting DWI arrest.
Our skilled attorneys can often successfully attack charges even when proper procedure for a sobriety checkpoint has been complied with. The vast majority of offenses issued under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 are the result of a breath test result evidencing a “per se” violation. What this means is that the accused had a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of at least .08% at the time of the stop as evidenced by two valid breath tests on the Draeger Alcotest 7110 Evidential. The manufacturer’s guidelines for this device include protocol that must be followed without deviation. The most noteworthy requirement is referred to as the “20 minute observation”. What this contemplates is that a police officer conduct a constant observation which is uninterrupted for 20 minutes immediately prior to having you blow into the breathalyzer. The mission of this step is to insure that you do not put anything in your mouth, burp or do anything that can distort the breath cavity of your mouth. If you belch, are chumming gum, have a penny in your mouth or there is anything else that contaminates you mouth, the observation has to start anew. This process has to be repeated until there is a 20 minute window where the mouth is pristine just prior to providing the breath sample.
There are many tactics and strategies that can be undertaken to pinpoint whether the 20 minute requirement has been fulfilled. The best piece of evidence is an in-station video of the testing although most police departments in Middlesex County, including the New Jersey State Police, purportedly lack the ability to record this process. While cameras unquestionably exist in most of these areas, law enforcement often claims that they are for monitoring only and do not record. The second approach is utilizing computer aided dispatch (“CAD”) report to create a timeline. A CAD report memorializes the movements of a police officer. It typically includes a record of when the defendant arrived at the police station and when they were taken out of a holding cell. These reports must demonstrate that the police officer had the ability to observe the subject for 20 minutes immediately prior to the test. If the CAD shows that the motorist was still in holding or had not even arrived at the station during this 20 minute window, the resulting test results are invalid.
The point of all of this is that you have many rights irrespective of whether you were stopped as the result of a checkpoint or because you allegedly committed a traffic violation which was observed by the police. What is pivotal in this quest is that you hire the right DWI lawyers to represent you. You will require an attorney who is not only knowledgeable and experienced, but also one that has the training and commitment to insure you every opportunity to avert a conviction. This is precisely what the Middlesex County DWI lawyers at Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver can afford you. Take a close look at our credentials in this area of law because they are truly unique in terms of the extent of training, specialization in DUI defense, and experience handling these types of cases.
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