Sample New Jersey DWI Cases
Handled by Greggory M. Marootian, Esq.
The cases below are real cases defended by Greggory M. Marootian, Esq. Remember, each case is different – there are no “cookie cutter” or magic defenses to a New Jersey DWI Charge. Each case must be carefully analyzed and assessed and aggressively and creatively defended. (View a sample cross-examination of a police officer)
The Facts & Charge(s): The Defendant, driving his car on the Garden State Parkway, fell asleep. His car (traveling at approximately 70 miles per hour) veered into the grassy portion off the shoulder, struck a tree, and catapulted him out of the rear window.
The Defendant was taken to a local hospital and treated for injuries. Blood was drawn from his arm at the direction of the State Police. His blood alcohol concentration (b.a.c.) was later alleged by the State to have been .15%. He was charged with (1) Driving While Intoxicated (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), (2) Careless Driving (N.J.S.A. 39:4-97), and (3) Failing to Wear a Seat belt (N.J.S.A. 39:3-76f).
The defendant, through counsel, entered Not Guilty Pleas and asserted his constitutional right(s) to a speedy trial. The defense requested that the State (the “State” here referring to the Police, State Laboratory and State Agencies) supply specific records and reports relating to the acquisition of the blood, and the analysis of the sample (generally known as “discovery” – but note that very specific and detailed records were requested which were necessary to properly assess the scientific validity of the sample).
The State did not produce certain documents (requested by the defense) relating to the blood analysis. The defense then applied to the Trial Court for an order compelling the State to supply them so that the evidence could be independently assessed. At the same time, the defense reiterated the speedy trial right(s). The Trial Court ordered the State to produce the requested items so that the defense could adequately assess the blood evidence with scientific experts.
The Trial: At the time of trial, the defense moved before the court to suppress (i.e. exclude) the blood evidence, arguing that (1) the laboratory blood test result was delivered one day prior to the trial and well after the time limit(s) imposed by the court order, and (2) the State failed to supply related documents relating to the blood analysis. The Trial Court granted the motion, suppressing (i.e. excluding) the blood result.
The State presented their case. Since the blood evidence was properly suppressed by the Court, the State’s DWI case was premised solely on the observations of the Defendant made by the arresting officer. The officer testified generally regarding his observations of the Defendant (swaying, slurred and slow speech, bloodshot and watery eyes, odor of alcoholic beverage on breath, etc.). The defense cross examined the officer about his observations and lack of observations (by way of example: lack of sagging, staggering, grasping for support, lack of any field sobriety testing).
The Verdict: Not Guilty upon defense motion which followed the State’s case (Police officer testifying and being cross examined).
NOTE: The defense was prepared to call an “expert” in the field of DWI Detection and Field Sobriety Testing to testify. He was prepared to testify that the observation evidence was simply inconclusive as to intoxication.
The Facts & Charge(s): The Defendant stopped his car on the shoulder to review a road map. A police officer, on patrol, approached the Defendant and subsequently arrested him and charged him with (1) DWI (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), and (2) Obstructing Passage of Motor Vehicle (N.J.S.A. 39:4-67). The State alleged, by way of a breathalyzer reading, a blood alcohol concentration (b.a.c.) of .17%.
The Defense entered Not Guilty Pleas, and requested that the State supply enumerated items in their possession for review (generally called “discovery”). The State response to defense discovery requests was deficient. This prevented the defense from assessing the State’s evidence, and particularly the scientific b.a.c. evidence. The defense moved (by formal application) for an Order compelling the Prosecutor to gather and supply the deficient discovery. The defense also asserted a constitutional right to a speedy trial. The Court entered an Order requiring the State to gather and deliver the missing items.
The Trial: At the time of trial, the State had not complied with the Court’s Order with regard to discovery. The defense moved to dismiss the charges.
The Verdict: Dismissal of all charges on defense Motion.
The Facts & Charge(s): The Defendant, lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood, was stopped and later arrested by Police and charged with (1) DWI (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), (2) Traveling the Wrong Way Down a One Way Street (N.J.S.A. 39:4-85.1, (3) Uninsured Vehicle (N.J.S.A. 39:6B-2, and (4) Failing to Wear a Seat belt (N.J.S.A. 39:3-76f).
The defense entered Not Guilty Pleas.
The Trial: At the time of trial, the defense moved before the court to suppress the blood alcohol evidence, arguing that (1) the State lacked a reasonable basis to have detained the defendant, and (2) the State failed to advise the defendant of his rights to have an independent blood test. Both pre-trial motions were denied.
The State presented their case. The arresting officer testified generally regarding his the stop and apprehension of the defendant, his observations, and balance testing administered in the field (in the rain). The defense cross examined the officer about his observations. The State’s next witness, testified about the administration of breath testing (alleged to have resulted in readings of .13%). The breath operator was cross examined. The State and defense rested.
The Verdict: (1) Not Guilty of DWI (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), (2) Guilty of Traveling the Wrong Way Down a One Way Street (N.J.S.A. 39:4-85.1 – fine assessed only, (3) Not Guilty of Uninsured Vehicle (N.J.S.A. 39:6B-2, and (4) Not Guilty of Failing to Wear a Seat belt (N.J.S.A. 39:3-76f).
Note: The Court, in a written opinion, found that the State failed to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt of the DWI Charge because (1) there was insufficient evidence presented to the Court to show by clear and convincing evidence that the breathalyzer machine was in proper working condition, and (2) the State’s observation case was inconclusive (e.g. balance tests administered on a handicapped sloped ramp and in the rain, and erratic driving pattern was the result of the defendant being lost).
The Facts & Charge(s): The Police received a report of a driver asleep at the wheel of his car at a red light. The citizen drove to the police station, and lead the police back to the area where he witnessed the driver asleep at the wheel. The Police were dispatched and noticed the person and car matching the description The Defendant was observed in a 7-11 convenience store buying coffee – he made his purchase, got into his car, drove out of the parking lot. He was later stopped and arrested for (1) DWI (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), and (2) Refusing to Submit to Breath Samples (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4(a).
The defense entered Not Guilty Pleas. The Defense moved to suppress, arguing that his stop and apprehension were unreasonable in contradiction of the New Jersey State and United States Constitutions.
The Trial: The Trial Court denied the defense suppression motion. The State presented their case, which consisted of (1) the arresting officer who testified generally regarding his the stop and apprehension of the defendant, his observations, and balance testing administered in the field, (2) an officer in the field who assisted with the arrest, and (3) the citizen who reported the matter to police. The defense vigorously cross examined the State’s witnesses.
The Defense presented testimony of three witnesses: (1) an “expert” in breath testing (a former high ranking New Jersey State Trooper) – he testified that the breath test was administered improperly resulting in an improper charge for refusal, (2) an “expert” in the field of DWI Detection and affects of alcohol (a college faculty Ph.D. highly regarded in the field) – he testified that the Defendant’s untreated diabetes would have created symptoms which would have made him appear intoxicated, and (3) the Defendant’s treating physician – he testified about the classic symptoms of diabetes (similar to intoxication, including the smell of what is often mistaken for alcoholic beverages).
The Verdict: Not Guilty of DWI (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50). Guilty of Refusing to Submit to Breath Samples (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4(a) which was reversed to Not Guilty on Appeal.
Note: On Appeal, the reviewing Court reversed the Guilty finding for Refusing to Submit to Breath Samples. The reviewing Court found that the stop was Unconstitutional – a citizen “tip” without additional observations by the officers failed to establish a reasonable basis to have stopped the Defendant in violation of his Constitutional rights against an unreasonable search and seizure.