2 Ways New Jersey Collects Evidence in a DWI Case
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Wed Mar 2023
The Garden State is known for having some of the strictest drunk driving standards in the country. For instance, a first offense drinking while intoxicated (DWI) carries a mandatory ignition interlock device and/or license suspension. New Jersey does not even have a “hardship” or work license. Even worse, there is no plea bargaining allowed and no jury trial is provided in DWI cases. To add more fuel, the courts are under direct pressure from the state to resolve all DWI cases within 60 days of the date of violation.
Law enforcement uses two main ways to collect evidence to help prosecution with their DWI case against you: 1) The Alcotest; 2) and the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST).
In New Jersey, the breath test used to detect a motorist’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is conducted via the Drager Alcotest 7110 Breathalyzer. This device was approved by the New Jersey Supreme Court and is used by all New Jersey municipalities to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the defendant.
This machine analyzes your breath in two ways – using an infrared radiation test and an electrochemical test. It first traps the breath sample you blow into in a chamber. Infrared light is then shot from one end of the chamber to the other, allowing the unit to detect the absorption rate of the breath sample. The more ethanol in your breath, the more infrared light is absorbed. The built-in software then runs the absorption results from the chamber to determine the amount of ethanol in your breath.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
Law enforcement generally administers SFSTs at the scene of a traffic stop if they suspect alcohol consumption. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NSTA) recognizes three SFSTs to detect whether a motorist is intoxicated. These tests are all designed to test the driver’s multi-tasking ability and physical dexterity. If you have consumed alcohol, it will impair your ability to perform these tests.
Officers are trained to conduct all three standardized tests. The results are then documented, with major emphasis on specific clues that could indicate possible intoxication. The clues will then be cumulatively weighed and assessed against you to determine whether an arrest should be made.
Since SFSTs are more subjective then a breathalyzer test, there are more strict standards to be met. As such, if the prosecutor fails to establish such standards, then your New Jersey drunk driving attorney can effectively argue that there is no case against you and seek to have the charges be dismissed.
Know Your Rights!
Even though you may be pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, you still have certain legal rights. You are under no legal duty to perform SFTSs. New Jersey law allows you to refuse submission to these tests so the evidence cannot be used against you in a future DWI case.
However, you are mandated by the same law to submit to the Alcotest if asked to do so by law enforcement. If you refuse the breathalyzer test, you will be charged with a Refusal to Submit, which carrier harsher penalties similar to a DWI.
Contact Us Today
If you have been arrested for a DWI offense, you should discuss your case, including any potential meritorious motions to suppress, with an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney. For more information or to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, please call Beninato & Matrafajlo Attorneys at Law, LLC at 908-355-7100.