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People make mistakes. We all know that. Sometimes those mistakes can have significant consequences. Being charged with Driving under the influence may be one of those circumstances. It is important to note I did not say driving under the influence of alcohol. The law applies to alcohol and drugs (legal and illegal) equally.

There are two ways to be convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. If you have a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater, and the State can establish that, your perceived ability to operate is irrelevant. The amount of alcohol, alone, is sufficient to convict you. The second way someone can be convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol is if the alcohol impairs their ability to operate the vehicle. That is far more subjective and many factors come into play. A court will look generally to an things you did while operating the vehicle. For example, failing to maintain your lane, being asleep at a traffic light and other motor vehicle violations. The court will also look to what occurs after the stop. For example, your ability to speak, handle documents requested, exit from the vehicle, balance tests and other observations. If a court is satisfied you are impaired, you will be convicted even without an alcohol content reading.

Driving under the influence of drugs is proven by impairment. Is the drug impairing the ability to operate? There is no quantity of drugs which in and of itself is sufficient to convict. In fact, in New Jersey, the State Police Laboratory does not even determine a reading. They simply determine if the person has a substance in their system. There are also “experts” called Drug Recognition Experts” that purport to be trained to determine if the person is under the influence but there is really little science to support it. There is a doctrine called “implied consent”. By obtaining a license, you consent to a breath test in New Jersey to determine your blood alcohol content. If you refuse to take the test, the penalties are generally the same as if you were convicted of driving under the influence.

What you need to know is that being convicted of one of these offenses will require that you lose your license for months if not years, cost you thousands of dollars in fines and associated penalties, community service and jail. If you lose your license for driving under the influence and get caught driving, the penalties are all enhanced and can result the commission of a crime with mandatory jail.

Do not believe there is nothing you can do. A lawyer experienced in handling driving under the influence cases can discuss your case with you, evaluate the State’s proofs and determine if it makes sense to retain experts to defend you. It is not hopeless. I can help. Before giving up and pleading guilty, reach out to me. I will meet with you and discuss your case and give you my honest opinion about the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s case so you can make an intelligent decision. Don’t sell your self short, it can have dire consequences for you and your family.

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