My office recently represented an individual who was facing his third offense driving while intoxicated (“DWI”). This would have been the defendant’s third DUI conviction within the last four years. The defendant was facing not only a ten year loss of their driver’s license and extremely high fines but also up to 180 days in jail. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, if the Judge is convinced that the defendant should be afforded the opportunity to participate in an inpatient rehabilitation program, they may convert 90 days of the said jail sentence into a inpatient rehabilitation program. It is important to note here, an individual who is sentenced to 180 days in jail due to a third or subsequent DWI or Refusal conviction, must serve the entire sentence and will not be eligible for parole. In addition, a individual convicted of a third offense DWI will be subject to the ignition interlock device. Specifically, the defendant will be forced to have the ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle for not only the length of their suspension, which is ten years, but also an additional one to three years after they get their license restored. The ignition interlock device costs roughly $1,200 per year, which equates to at a minimum, $13,200.
So as you can tell the defendant was facing life changing penalties. Immediately after meeting with the defendant and hearing the his version of how the arrest played out my office knew we had something work with. According to the defendant, which was also confirmed by the police report, the defendant was found asleep in his vehicle in a bank parking lot at about 7am. There was no disputing the fact that the defendant was intoxicated nor that he was found asleep in the driver’s seat. Just like every other DWI case in New Jersey the two key elements that the state must prove are that the defendant was intoxicated and that they operated the vehicle while being intoxicated. According to the state and the arresting officers, the defendant must had driven to this particular destination as where he stated he came from was about three miles away. Therefore, they believed that they could use their assumptions to prove “operation”. The defendant adamantly denied driving the vehicle while intoxicated. According to him, he drove to the bank parking lot prior to drinking and then had a buddy pick him up and drive him to and from the bar.
Through countless discussions with the prosecutor, my office was able to create enough reasonable doubt in the states cases to convince them to dismiss the charges. It became apparent through our numerous discussions that the state would be unable to prove one of the key elements of a driving while intoxicated charge, that being operation. Since the state was unable to prove that the defendant actually operated the vehicle while he was intoxicated, they were unable to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and their only option was to dismiss the DWI.
In conclusion, the defendant who was facing not only a ten year loss of their driver’s license and thousands of dollars in fines but also 180 days in jail, walked away with nothing. All the charges were dismissed and no fines were assessed against the defendant. The Law Office of Jonathan F. Marshall has been successfully defending individuals charged with either their first offense DWI, second offense DUI, third or subsequent offense DWI’s and refusals throughout Bergen County in towns like Paramus, Cliffside Park, Fort Lee, Elmwood Park, Mahwah, Fair Lawn for over fifteen years. If you or someone you know is facing a driving while intoxicated charge it is imperative that you speak to an experienced DWI defense firm. If you have any further questions please contact any one of our Bergen County Offices for a free initial consultation about your pending charges.