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Atlantic City Criminal Defense Blog

Man in New Jersey faces drunk driving charges

A man police believe was under the influence of alcohol at the time of a serious car crash has been arrested. New Jersey authorities have charged the man with drunk driving as well as vehicular assault. He has been released on $3,000 secured bail, and so far, no court date has been announced. 

According to state police, the 57-year-old man was involved in a car accident with two other cars early in the morning of May 12. At approximately 12:09 a.m. on Del. 896 an out-of-state man reportedly crossed the center line in his pickup truck. His vehicle struck an SUV headed the other direction, driven by a 21-year-old man. The force of the impact spun his vehicle into a third car driven by a 19-year-old woman. Both vehicles subsequently crashed. 

What is the New Jersey point system?

Probably every New Jersey driver has broken a traffic law—or two—in their lifetime. Speeding on the highway or accidentally rolling through a stop sign is so common that many people do not think twice.

Getting a ticket for these frequent incidents can be both frustrating and tedious. However, many people do not know that the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) keeps a record of traffic violations. And every single one of those traffic violations adds points to that record.

An underage DUI charge can have significant consequences

In order to purchase or possess alcohol in the state of New Jersey, one has to be at least 21 years old. The only times it is deemed acceptable for anyone younger than that to consume alcohol is if it is for religious purposes or is done in a private setting under parental supervision -- such as one's residence. Underage drinkers who find themselves facing DUI charges could face some significant consequences if they are ultimately convicted.

The state of New Jersey has zero tolerance laws. First and foremost, this means that drinking and driving is prohibited -- no matter one's age. Anyone found behind the wheel with a blood-alcohol concentration level of .08 or higher will likely be arrested. When it comes to underage drinking, the BAC level does not matter. Any trace of alcohol in the system of a person under the age of 21 could warrant an arrest and DUI charge.

Gun crimes come with serious penalties in New Jersey

Here in the United States, people have the right to own weapons. Even so, there are limitations to who can own them, along with how they are used. As is the case in many other states, a conviction for gun crimes here in New Jersey could result in serious penalties for those who violate the law.

Would you know if your possession of a firearm violated the law? Do you require a license or permit for your weapon? You may want to find the answers to these questions as soon as possible in order to avoid legal entanglements regarding your gun or guns.

How an ignition interlock device combats drunk driving

In the state of New Jersey, a driver with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher is considered intoxicated. If a driver is convicted of drunk driving, he or she may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her car, especially if the driver is a repeat offender. Many wonder how these devices work. Can someone else simply blow in the meter to start the car for an impaired driver? Here are some facts about these tools, what they are, how they work and why bypassing one isn't so easy.

The concept behind an ignition interlock device is that it acts like a personal breathalyzer that is installed in a car that prevents the car from starting without the driver proving he or she isn't intoxicated. The tool is hard-wired into the vehicle's ignition system. Before the car will start the driver must blow into the sensor, which will measure the driver's breath alcohol content. If the driver's alcohol content is low enough the car will start, but if it is above a preset limit the car will not start. The allowable breath alcohol content limit is not necessarily the same as the state's blood alcohol concentration limit of .08: it may be much lower.

Expungement of a criminal record in New Jersey

A criminal record can cause a lot of problems in life for many years after the crime occurred. Expungement is a legal process in which a person who has been convicted of a crime gets that crime cleared from his or her criminal record. The process involves petitioning a New Jersey Superior Court and meeting specific criteria. Once approved, all police, court and corrections documentation are removed from one's record. At this point a background check would indicate no evidence of the crime ever having happened.

There are many reasons someone might need a conviction expunged. A criminal record can impact many aspects of life. In today's technology-infused lifestyle, it is not uncommon for potential love interests to make a background check on someone prior to becoming involved with him or her. Potential landlords also often perform background checks on prospective tenants. A conviction from years earlier can cause one to get denied for the housing as well as the love interest.

It may be hard for officers to prove DUI charge for marijuana use

When a driver is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, an officer can utilize field sobriety testing to look for signs of impairment. Separately, a Breathalyzer or blood test may confirm if the amount of alcohol in the person's system is above New Jersey's legal limit of .08. In those instances, the person is charged with DUI. The process when someone is suspected of being impaired by marijuana is not so simple. The standard field tests, Breathalyzers and blood tests used to prove alcohol impairment cannot prove marijuana impairment.

The potential legalization of recreational marijuana use in the near future would most certainly increase the number of suspected impaired drivers on New Jersey's roadways. This presents a challenge to officers as there is currently no way for officers to measure marijuana intoxication. The standard field sobriety tests used for alcohol impairment aren't effective for suspected marijuana intoxication. Also, the current bill that would legalize marijuana use doesn't set a legal standard for what is to be considered marijuana impairment.

How do field sobriety tests work?

When someone is pulled over by police in Atlantic City due to an officer suspecting the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there are certain steps the officer takes to determine the driver's level of impairment. One of these steps is field sobriety testing. There are three individual sobriety tests that make up the Standard Field Sobriety Test. When properly administered, this assessment has been found to be quite accurate in determining one's balance, coordination and other abilities.

The first part of the Standard Field Sobriety Test is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This assesses the involuntary jerking of one's eyeball. The officer holds an item such as a pen about 12 inches in front of the person's face and asks the individual to follow the movement of the pen with his or her eyes while the officer moves the pen left and right. The officer observes how distinct the jerking of the person's eyeballs is and at what angle the jerking begins.

What does "schedule" mean in a drug possession charge?

Drugs are classified into five groups or schedules based on their potential for abuse or dependency and whether or not they have any legitimate medical use. When someone receives a drug possession charge in New Jersey the drug's schedule is specified. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous because they have the highest potential for abuse, possibly causing both physical and psychological dependence. They have no known medical benefits. Examples of Schedule I drugs are heroin, peyote and ecstasy.

Schedule II drugs are also considered extremely highly addictive. Unlike Schedule I drugs, however, Schedule II drugs have some accepted medical uses. Examples of Schedule II drugs include fentanyl, cocaine and methadone.

What are the consequences of a drug conviction?

If you or a loved one is facing a drug charge in New Jersey for the first time, it’s important to understand the basic structure of the law and what consequences might result.

While most states classify crimes as misdemeanors and felonies, New Jersey classifies them as disorderly persons and indictable crimes and differentiate between them by type and severity of the incident and the circumstances surrounding it.

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