Attorney At Law Steven A. Garner
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Somerset, New Jersey, Criminal Law Blog

What are the penalties attached to a DUI/DWI conviction?

In New Jersey, driving under the influence of alcohol is against the law, as it should be. This action places lives at risk, so the state wants to send a message that authorities do not tolerate such behavior. This is why you may find the penalties attached to a DUI conviction are quite severe.

What are the penalties for DUI? Is it possible to fight such charges? What else do you need to know about DUI cases?

Did your good time lead to charges for disturbing the peace?

Most people want to go out with their friends and have a good time now and then. You likely have many fond memories of nights or days with friends, even times when you got a bit rowdy. Of course, you never set out to cause problems for anyone else while you are having a good time.

Still, someone may take issue with the fun you and your friends have. In fact, what you may see as a harmless good time could be a situation that someone else sees as a disturbance. In a serious situation, you could end up facing charges for disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace.

Did the officer have reasonable suspicion to pull you over?

Every DUI arrest begins with a traffic stop. Police officers can't simply pull over a motorist because he or she feels like it. They have to have a reason. In fact, an officer must have "reasonable suspicion," which means that the officer has enough reason to believe that you may be committing a crime.

Substantiating a DUI traffic stop requires the officer to observe some sort of behavior that could indicate impairment. Without it, the stop may not meet the scrutiny of the court, and then any evidence gathered thereafter may not be admissible in a case against you for drunk driving.

Think shoplifting is no big deal here in New Jersey? Think again

What do you think of when you think of shoplifting? If you are like most people, you think of teenagers trying to abscond with a video game, makeup or some other teenager-related item in order to "fit in" with the crowd. While that certainly happens, college students and adults may also find themselves accused of shoplifting, and here in New Jersey, that could be bad news.

Do you envision any penalties for shoplifting involving a slap on the wrist and repaying the store owner for the item or items stolen? Think again. There are real criminal penalties attached to this charge, and a conviction could affect your future in ways you may not yet see.

When the results of a breath test aren't enough to prove sobriety

Being involved in a routine traffic stop can be stressful enough on its own, even if you are only pulled over for a burnt-out tag or tail light. However, if a similar incident leaves you facing accusations of driving while impaired, you may have concerns about how the process could impact your life.

Having to undergo field sobriety tests can be embarrassing, and if you have general difficulty with balance, you may have trouble completing the required tasks under any circumstance. You might feel as though passing a breath test will prove that you are sober, but this might not always be the case.

Issues that often lead to DUI arrests in New Jersey

If you are age 21 or over, it is legal for you to imbibe alcohol in New Jersey. If you have a couple drinks and then get behind the wheel of your car to drive, does it mean you are breaking the law? There is no definite answer for this question because, whether or not you illegally operated a motor vehicle would depend on the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream at the time, which, in many cases, is debatable.  

Like most good drivers and responsible residents in New Jersey, you hopefully make cautious choices regarding alcohol consumption and motor vehicle operations. It might surprise you, however, to learn how many people have faced DUI arrests without ever having consumed alcohol before driving. It happens. This is why it's critical that you understand your rights ahead of time, as well as what types of issues often lead to DUI arrests. It's also a good idea to know where to seek support if a problem arises.  

Excessive force or resisting arrest? Your word against a cop's

Few things can ruin an otherwise perfectly pleasant day like seeing a police officer's patrol car lights flashing in your rear-view mirror. Especially if you've had a traffic ticket in the recent past, the last thing you want is more points added to your driving record. It's one thing for a police officer to make a traffic stop. It's quite another for him or her to deviate from the strict protocol that governs such situations, which may lead to violations of your personal rights.  

If the police officer that pulls you over thinks you have been driving while intoxicated, he or she may assertively try to get you to admit that. The Fifth Amendment protects you by allowing you to invoke your right to remain silent. There are certain things a traffic officer can do to determine probable cause for an arrest, such as ask you to exit your vehicle to take a field sobriety test. However, the officer may not use unnecessary and excessive force against you at any time.  

The subjective nature of field sobriety tests

If police arrest you for drunk driving, they may have made up their minds that you were intoxicated long before they approached your vehicle. Perhaps your car swerved over the yellow line, or you were driving too slowly, as people tend to do when police are following them.

A New Jersey officer who already suspects you of driving under the influence will use every moment of his or her encounter with you to collect evidence to support that suspicion. Once the officer has enough probable cause, he or she can place you under arrest. One common tool law enforcement uses to gain probable cause is the standard field sobriety test. Understanding the implications and weaknesses of these tests may help you make important decisions if you face a DUI arrest.

Is it true what they say about drugs on college campuses?

Whether this is your first or final year at a New Jersey college or university, you've likely already faced (and hopefully overcome) several challenges. Perhaps you had never been away from your family before, and it took some time to work through the homesickness you felt when you first moved into your dorm or apartment. Then again, maybe you had no trouble adapting to that aspect of college life but greatly struggled to get to classes on time and develop good study habits.

Such issues are common among college students in this state and everywhere. The trick is to find what works best for you, including making good choices when it comes to how and with whom you spend your free time. It's no secret that many college students run into trouble (sometimes, even legal problems) when their choices lead them down certain paths. A major concern on most college campuses is drug and alcohol use.

Did seemingly harmless items leave you facing possession charges?

Many New Jersey residents may have dabbled in actions throughout their lives that were not entirely legal. Though they may not have faced criminal charges or considered themselves criminals, those actions likely still should not have been carried out. Some parties may find themselves making excuses for their behaviors because those actions do not necessarily hurt anyone else. However, authorities may still feel the need to file charges in some cases.

When it comes to drug-related crimes, even seemingly minor acts can have considerable impacts. Depending on the type of crime that police suspect that you have involvement with, the allegations brought against you may vary in type and severity. You could potentially even find yourself charged when you thought you acted legally.

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