New Jersey motorists know that if they consume too much alcohol, and then they try to drive an auto or a truck, they may be pulled over by a police officer and charged with DWI (driving while intoxicated). If this happens to you, speak immediately to a New Jersey DWI attorney.
Where can you be arrested for DWI in this state? Does the New Jersey law apply to driving on private property? Keep reading, and you’ll find out how the DWI law in this state applies to private property. You’ll also learn what you should do if you’re arrested and charged with DWI.
Intoxicated New Jersey motorists may be arrested for operating a vehicle on private property and charged with DWI. The legal language is slightly different from state to state, but driving while intoxicated, even on your own property, is against the law in each of the fifty states.
How Does New Jersey Define “Private” Property?
Private property in this state includes more than merely residential property. It also includes apartment complexes and gated communities with paved streets, parking garages, and the parking lots that are adjacent to shopping malls and other types of commercial properties.
Courts in New Jersey have long held that impaired driving, wherever it happens in this state, poses considerable risks to motorists, other persons, and property including private property, and that the state’s police officers have the right to enforce DWI laws everywhere in New Jersey.
What Do the Courts Say About DWI and Private Property?
The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, established this principle with its 1978 ruling in State v. McColley. The police in Woodbridge Township had watched John McColley driving while impaired in a parking lot he owned adjacent to his moving company’s offices.
Mr. McColley said he was merely moving the car to a different space in the lot. The prosecutor did not dispute Mr. McColley’s insistence that he did not intend to leave the parking lot, but the Superior Court nevertheless upheld Mr. McColley’s DWI conviction.
In another key case, in 1997, police in Pine Hill responded to a report of smoke coming from Luke Garbin’s garage. They found Mr. Garbin spinning the truck’s tires and creating smoke, with the front bumper pushing against the rear of the garage.
The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, upheld Mr. Garbin’s driving while intoxicated conviction in 1999 because at the time of his arrest, Mr. Garbin was “operating” his vehicle.
What if You’re Not in an Automobile or a Truck?
Anywhere in this state, on any type of property, police officers – provided that they have legitimate probable cause – have the right to stop you on suspicion of DWI, and not just in a car or truck.
By law, anyone who is impaired is not allowed to operate a motorized vehicle of any kind in New Jersey, whether it’s a go-kart, golf cart, all-terrain vehicle, scooter, tractor, electric bicycle, or moped, on either private or public property.
As for DWI and bicycles, New Jersey court rulings have been inconsistent, so if you’re arrested for riding a bicycle while intoxicated on private or public property, you’ll need the help of a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer.
How Will a DWI Attorney Help You?
In fact, if you’re impaired, just sitting in a car parked in front of your home can get you arrested on a New Jersey DWI charge, although the court may consider whether a vehicle was still warm or keys were in the ignition. The courts handle such charges on a case-by-case basis.
If you’re charged with driving while intoxicated on either drugs or alcohol, a good New Jersey DWI lawyer will explain the charge against you, develop an effective defense strategy, and advocate aggressively for justice on your behalf.
What Are the Penalties for DWI Convictions?
A conviction for driving while intoxicated in New Jersey may be penalized with the installation of an IID (ignition interlock device) in the offender’s personal vehicle, community service, and attending classes at a New Jersey Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.
First-time DWI offenders may also serve as much as 30 days in a county jail and pay a $500 fine. For second driving while intoxicated convictions in a 10-year period, the potential penalty increases to 90 days and a fine of as much as $1,000.
Actual penalties vary depending on factors like the particulars of the case and the offender’s prior DWI record, so take your case to a New Jersey DWI attorney as swiftly as you can after you’ve been arrested for driving while intoxicated and prior to entering a plea.
What Defenses May Be Offered Against DWI Charges?
Typically, a DWI lawyer’s first move on a client’s behalf is asking the prosecution to drop the case or seeking to have the judge dismiss the charge. However, if your case goes before a jury, your DWI defense attorney may present one or several of these legal defenses against the charge:
- Police officers did not have probable cause for stopping you on suspicion of DWI.
- The breathalyzer results cannot be trusted because the device was not properly calibrated or maintained.
- The police officer who conducted your breathalyzer exam was not adequately trained, or the examination was not properly conducted.
A DWI arrest does not necessarily mean a conviction. For instance, in 2017, 24 percent of motorists charged with driving while intoxicated in this state were able to have the case dismissed or were allowed to enter a guilty plea to a less severe charge like reckless driving.
What’s the Best Strategy?
The wisest approach to DWI is the basic common sense that you’ve heard scores of times already: Don’t Drink and Drive. Instead, hire an Uber or a taxi, let a friend act as a designated driver, get a room overnight, or sleep on a friend’s sofa.
Yes, you will spend a few dollars, but all of these options cost less than a ride to the police station, the emergency room, or the morgue. After you’ve been drinking, don’t drive unless and until you’re entirely sober.
And yes, it is also quite possible for drivers to be mistakenly arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated even when they’re innocent.
But whether you’re innocent of DWI or guilty as charged, a New Jersey DWI lawyer will provide the advice, services, and legal defense you need if you’re accused of driving while intoxicated.