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In New Jersey, as well as in many other states, one’s legal ability to drive is considered a privilege and not a right. As such, if a police officer suspects that you have been operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, you may be asked to undergo field sobriety tests and to have a blood/urine screen or to blow into a machine which measures your blood-alcohol levels.

There are several different types of field sobriety tests. Some of the more common ones include:

  • The one leg stand

  • A horizontal nystagmus gaze test

  • The walk and turn/heel-toe test

If you are observed by the officer to be slurring, fumbling, unable to follow instructions, stumble, or have an inability to stand without swaying, it is likely that you will be asked to undertake the field sobriety tests, and may even be placed under arrest for suspicion of DWI.

If that happens, you will be taken to the local police station and be asked to blow into a machine, known as an Alco-test (such as the one pictured below), which measures your blood alcohol level. In New Jersey, you do not have the right to refuse to perform this test, and if you refuse, you may receive both a ticket for refusal and a DWI ticket and you will subsequently have to appear in court.

If you agree to blow into the machine, it will read your blood alcohol level. In New Jersey, the “legal limit” is .08. If you have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), anything over a .04 can affect your CDL privileges.

For purposes of a first offense, if your level is between a .08 and a .099, you will be subject to fines and a suspension of your driving privileges for a period of 3 months. If above a .10, you face fines and a suspension of between 7 months and 12 months, along with the possibility that an ignition interlock device may be installed in your vehicle, requiring that you blow into the device which then determines your blood-alcohol level as a prerequisite to determine whether or not your vehicle will start.

If you are convicted or plead guilty to DWI, you face significant financial penalties, not only in the form of the various fines that will be assessed but also through the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission in the form of surcharges, a likely significant increase in your automobile insurance cost, and through other contingent charges.

If you have been charged with a DWI, defense to this charge may exist. You should seek out experienced counsel who practice in this field and have familiarity with the potential defenses that are available. This is a field in which Drinkwater & Goldstein, LLP has a substantial amount of experience, and we are eager to help. The initial consultation is free.

Please feel free to reach out to us at (856) 753-5131.

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