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Common DWI Terms

Commonly Used New Jersey DWI Terms

DWI is an acronym for “Driving While Intoxicated” which is prohibited by New Jersey Law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50). DUI is a synonymous acronym, standing for “Driving Under The Influence.” DWI and DUI are terms that describe the same offense in New Jersey (i.e., there is no difference between the two).

NJ DWI is is the offense of driving while intoxicated in the State of New Jersey (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50).

BREATHALYZER is the trademark (of National Draeger, Inc. which acquired the Breathalyzer division from Smith and Wesson) for the most commonly used breath-testing device in New Jersey. The Breathalyzer converts breath alcohol into a blood alcohol reading.

B.A.C. is an acronym for Blood Alcohol Concentration. The most definitive way to test for B.A.C. is to test blood. The most common testing method is to take samples of breath (most usually in New Jersey with a “Breathalyzer”). The alcohol in the breath is mathematically converted to a blood alcohol reading.

ARRAIGNMENT is also sometimes referred to as a “first appearance.” This date is typically located on the DWI Summons & Complaint near the “court appearance required” box that should be checked off. The arraignment is a formal procedure where rights are read, charges are read and explained, and a plea (guilty or not guilty) is entered.

If an attorney is retained prior to the arraignment, the attorney may enter a not guilty plea with a letter to the court, commonly referred to as a “letter of representation.” Most courts will accept this letter and upon receipt, give the case a new court date to allow the defense an opportunity to investigate the state’s case and prepare for trial.

FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS sometimes referred to by the acronym FSTs, are tests administered by the police to purportedly assess intoxication. Types of FSTs varies from police department to department in New Jersey. Some FSTs are (1) finger-to-nose test, (2) alphabet, (3) finger-to-thumb number count, (4) reverse counting of numbers, and (5) one leg stand, walk and turn.

STANDARDIZED FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS, known sometimes as SFSTs, are a battery of three sobriety tests recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests are (1) One-Leg-Stand, (2) Walk-and-Turn, and (3) Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. For more information on SFSTs, please see article on SFSTs.

Mr. Marootian is National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Trained and Certified in  DWI Detection and the Administration of Standardized Field Sobriety Testing.

MUNICIPAL COURT is the local court within the municipality where the offense is alleged to have occurred, which has jurisdiction (i.e. authority) to hear DWI charges.

COURT ADMINISTRATOR is in charge of the administrative functions of the municipal court. The court administrator is a neutral party – he must not become involved in the preparation of the state’s case by responding to defense discovery requests or determining what witnesses the state will need by issuing subpoenas.