Not all DWI charges are created alike. While that statement sounds more than a little profound, you may be confused. What in the world are “perse” drunk driving charges? More importantly, can you fight them?
Like every other state, New Jersey laws regarding drunk driving reference blood alcohol content (BAC) levels. If your BAC reading comes back higher than .08%, you can count on the police charging with you with driving while intoxicated.
The prosecution may attempt to find you guilty of per se drunk driving based on your BAC levels. In Latin, “per se” translates to “by itself.” This means an elevated BAC serves by itself as the basis for finding you guilty of DWI under NJSA 39:4:50.
Of course, all that sounds like something you’ve heard before. In the meantime, impairment plays a role in some drunk driving cases. This brings into play several considerations.
In the first place, the police need probable cause to pull you over. Generally speaking, this means observation that you drove erratically. Perhaps you were in and out of the lane or ran a red light. Once the authorities pull you over, the next step includes checking for your impairment.
As you most likely know, the police may find it appropriate to administer field sobriety tests. If you pass all of them, this should surely indicate you were not impaired.
That said, if the police smell alcohol on your breath, they may insist on chemical testing. You should know that the refusal of a breathalyzer test results in automatic penalties associated with a drunk driving conviction.
Fighting Per Se Drunk Driving Charges
On first glance, it might appear difficult to fight per se drunk driving charges. However, machines don’t always produce correct results.
At the end of last year, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on a case that invalidated over 20,000 DWI charges. You may recall this related to errors in the calibration of Alcotest breath test devices.
The reason for your stop also comes into play. The prosecution must show the constitutionality of why the police pulled you over. Additionally, there needs to be probable cause to give you the breathalyzer test in the first place.
You may also fight per se drunk driving charges if you were sitting in your car and not operating your motor vehicle.
Additionally, an experienced DWI attorney may claim that a delay in ascertaining your BAC may factor into your case. Likewise, women over 60 encounter difficulties in breathing into the machines that register blood alcohol content levels.
Drunk driving convictions come with serious penalties. If you are facing charges, contact the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafajlo to schedule an appointment.