What are Your Rights at Sobriety Checkpoints?

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Sobriety checkpoints may cause a hassle for motorists trying to make it home on time to celebrate the holidays, but when it comes down to it, many a life has been saved through routine checks of driver intoxication on the days statistically linked to greater rates of drunk driving.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years’ are all cause for celebration, and accordingly, individuals are both more likely to drink to excess and drive further distances, both on and around the actual holidays. This is the reason for increased police presence and greater instances of sobriety checkpoints on or around these dates.

If you find yourself approaching a DUI checkpoint this holiday season, and are concerned about ensuring your rights are fully protected while being checked for signs of impairment or intoxication, take my advice – as a criminal lawyer serving Haddonfield and other areas of New Jersey, I have worked to represent hundreds of defendants in DUI and DWI cases.

What can I expect?

It is important to know what to anticipate during a DUI checkpoint, in order to understand (and possibly recall later) if police are acting in a manner consistent with your constitutional rights. One checkpoint can be very different from the next, and operations vary by state, according to what is allowed on the part of the authorities.

In the state of New Jersey, police will most likely check your tags and licenses, peer into the vehicle for any signs of intoxication, such as open containers of alcoholic beverages, and briefly assess the condition of the driver by smelling for alcohol on their breath and looking for signs of impairment.

Are police able to search my car?

Constitutional rights still apply at checkpoints, and unless police have probable cause to believe that you are under the influence, they are not permitted to forcibly search your car. While you can permit them to do so, it is not recommended, and you are not required to do so – even if the request is couched in language that makes it seem as if allowing the search will end the encounter more quickly.

You are also not required to answer any questions, or admit to breaking the law in any way when asked.

Police are legally allowed to use drug sniffing dogs during checkpoint operations, and while a positive “sniff” can serve as probable cause to search a vehicle, this is still no reason to waive one’s rights.

What steps can I take to protect myself if accused of a DUI/DWI?

It is absolutely imperative that you contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible. In general, while it is important that you cooperate with the police, you should not waive your right to remain silent; the less you say about your situation, the less can be construed as a confession. Make calling a lawyer the first action you take, in order to avoid any missteps that could destroy certain legal pathways you may otherwise have open to you after the fact.

How Can Hiring A Lawyer Following a DUI or DWI Arrest Help My Case?

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Immediately after an arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), or any number of charges that can stem from the combination of motor vehicles and alcohol/drugs, your future may seem bleak. Sophisticated devices used in field sobriety tests, such as breath, urine and blood tests, may make it seem as if confessing all, pleading guilty, and/or relying on the services of an overworked Public Defender is the only logical option, given the evidence against you.

In reality, however, regardless of how hopeless your situation may seem, there are many measures that a dedicated attorney with years of experience practicing Criminal Law can take to eliminate or drastically lessen charges, saving you money, negative consequences and even hard time.

Always remember: the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. A good DUI/DWI attorney may be able to challenge the evidence against you into sufficient question.

Examination of errors in DUI/DWI arrest procedures, especially field tests.

Alcotest machines and field sobriety tests are far from foolproof, and can be rendered invalid through a variety of different standard errors made by their administrator. Failure on the part of a police officer to [properly operate an Alcotest machine prior to each test, for example, can be grounds for invalidating the results. If this evidence cannot be used in court, it may destroy the case against you. The rules regarding urine and blood specimens taken at police stations and hospitals are very strict, and discovering a simple breach in protocol can cause these results to be thrown out, as well.

Skilled DUI/DWI attorneys know exactly how to trace the use of these field tests and devices in order to determine if the proper steps were taken prior to your arrest.

Discovering a violation of your rights.

Bringing a violation of your legal rights to light is one of the strongest defenses possible against a DUI/DWI charge. This is one of the primary reasons it is imperative to hire a DUI/DWI attorney immediately following an arrest; your memories of the event may be clearest shortly after it has occurred, and piecing together clues that could lead to evidence of careless and improper illegal police work which may work towards a dismissal of your charges

Finding and thoroughly interviewing witnesses.

Witnesses can serve a variety of purposes when compiling a legal defense. These individuals can provide cause to dispute the evidence provided by the police through verified reports that conflict with those of the attending law enforcement officers, helping to build a case for your future. Either way, a qualified DUI/DWI attorney will know where to look for useful witnesses, as well as possess the time to do so; a public defender may be overwhelmed with other cases and thus unable to dedicate the time and attention your case deserves.

For a DUI/DWI attorney with decades of experience helping clients receive a second chance, post-DUI or DWI arrest, call the Law Offices of Charles Block. As a dedicated Criminal Attorney, Charles Block provides clients with non-judgmental legal counsel, communicated clearly throughout the legal process. Visit our Contact page to set up an appointment to discuss your DUI or DWI arrest.

 

Do You Need A DUI Or DWI Attorney For Your Case?

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Do you really need a DUI or DWI attorney for your case?

If this is your first time being charged with either a DUI or DWI you might feel scared, nervous, angry, or a combination of all three. When your court date comes and you are standing in front of the judge without an attorney, you might feel even more emotional than when you received the DUI or DWI charge. Not only that, if you do not have an attorney, you will have no way to defend yourself from the police officer who charged you with the DUI or DWI. Sure, you might feel confident your argument could be better than his, but if you are indeed guilty, there will be little you can do to receive a lesser punishment.

Hiring a DUI/DWI attorney has many benefits.

A good DUI/DWI attorney will have a thorough understanding of the court system, be skilled in sentence and plea bargaining, as well as have the ability to easily navigate through all of the paperwork. Even though having an attorney has its benefits, if you know that you are guilty and just happen to be savvy in your state’s DUI/DWI laws and penalties, you might not want to spend the extra money to have a lawyer at your side. However, having a n attorney will always be beneficial no matter what.

A good DUI/DWI attorney will help you determine whether or not you should plead guilty.

You recently got pulled over and the police officer determined that your BAC was a little bit over the limit—maybe a .09. But, you were not driving erratically and you have never been pulled over before—for anything. Plus, you witnessed the officer fumbling around with an older-looking breathalyzer before he walked over and tested your BAC.

If something appears a little off about the scenario mentioned above, it is. The first thing the officer didn’t do was have you perform a field sobriety test. He automatically assumed you were way over the legal limit and pulled out his breathalyzer. Did he read you your chemical test rights? If not, this officer might have had another agenda.

If you believe that you should plead guilty in a situation such as this, think again. You should and need to call an attorney. There is a chance that the breathalyzer may have not gave the officer the correct reading, or after consulting with an attorney—you find that he failed to do his job correctly. These are all things a skilled DUI/DWI attorney will be able to discuss with you when you when you see them for a consultation.

On the other hand…

If you failed a field sobriety test, refused to take a breathalyzer test, and were in jail for the night, chances are a DUI/DWI attorney will not be able to help you. If anything, he or she will be able to get you a reduced sentence.

In the end, whether you need an attorney or not will be entirely dependent on if you want one. Some cases might need them, and others will not. If you are unsure if you do, you can always call Charles Block to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.

What Happens After You’re Arrested for a DUI ?

Friday, October 10th, 2014

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you may not remember the events that lead to your arrest. But chances are you are very clear about the events that followed.  The worst time to learn about the significance of a DUI is when it’s happening.  While experience is a great teacher, it may be helpful to know more about the legal process ahead of time.

Here’s what to expect in the state of New Jersey. 

Arraignment

The arraignment is the primal step of the criminal procedure. It takes place in a courtroom.  The purpose of the arraignment is to inform you of the charges you face. This is the time to enter a plea with the judge  – usually “guilty” or “not guilty.” There are other pleas, and it gets complicated, which is why at this point you are assigned a lawyer if you can’t afford one.

The Pre-trial Conference: continuance, plea bargain, suppression hearing, trial

Before the pre-trial conference, your lawyer should have received all evidence against you from the prosecutor’s office.  Sometimes there’s a delay in receiving the documentation.  When there’s a delay, your lawyer will ask for a “continuance.”  A continuance is granted if more time is needed to gather evidence.

If all the evidence has been received and reviewed by the date of the pre-trial conference, your lawyer and the prosecutor will discuss the merits of the case. Each nitpicks flaws in each other’s facts regarding the case and they will argue about what should happen. Sometimes there’ll be a reduction in the charges. Sometimes there’ll be a dismissal. Sometimes there’ll be a compromise.  When compromise isn’t possible, the case moves forward.

A suppression hearing occurs if your lawyer believes your constitutional rights were violated. This is the stage where your lawyer can move to quash evidence against you.  Many cases will be resolved at this point.

If your lawyer and the prosecutor have not agreed to a plea bargain, and your case wasn’t dismissed at a suppression hearing, a trial date will be set.  At the trail – which takes place in Municipal Court – a judge will examine evidence and hear testimony. The judge will decided your innocence or guilt as there are no trial juries in the state of New Jersey.

Sentencing

If found guilty at the trial, you will receive a punishment, also known as a sentence.  Receiving a sentence doesn’t always mean jail time. In some cases, you might receive a fine or community service. The possible sentences are fixed within the law of the offense.

Are you facing a DUI?

If you need a DUI lawyer in New Jersey, contact Charles Block.

 

 

Reasons For Drivers License Suspension in New Jersey

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Getting your license suspended can be an unfortunate life changing event.  From the time you got your license as a teenager, you have enjoyed the freedom and mobility that a driver’s license has given you.

New Jersey has many reasons why they may suspend your license, but we will go over the 4 most popular offenses.

Points -  In the state of New Jersey, for every moving violation a driver commits, they will receive points on their license.  When the driver accumulates 12 or more points, their license will become suspended.

No Insurance – The state of New Jersey will suspend your license if you are caught driving without car insurance.  New Jersey requires all motor vehicles to obtain insurance.  You must also carry your proof of insurance with you at all times.  Depending on the situation, you can also have your license suspended if you can’t provide proof of insurance at the time it is required.

Driving Under the Influence –  If you are caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the state of New Jersey will suspend your license.  The suspension time will vary depending on the severity of the situation and will also vary depending on whether this is a first time or repeat offense.

Driving With Suspended License -  If you are caught driving with an already suspended license, then the state of New Jersey will increase the length of time of the suspension.  Depending on the severity of the situation, the state of New Jersey can also charge imprisonment for up to 5 years.  You can also have your license suspended if you are caught driving without your license.

Obtaining the best attorney in NJ is the smartest move you can make when you commit a crime that will lead to suspension of your license.  Whether the suspension is due to no insurance or a DWI in NJ, Charles Block has the experience needed to get you the best results possible.

 

Kick Off the New Year Right, By Learning Some Easy Tips on How to Avoid DWI or DUI Arrests

Monday, January 14th, 2013

The first few months of the year, are prime-time months for police officers looking to make arrests against a person who has been involved in a DWI and DUI in Camden County and other areas of New Jersey. In this blog, I will provide you with a list of some easy-to-follow tips on how to avoid being in a situation where a police officer will suspect that you are under the influence of alcohol. Before even getting into this useful list, you must be found with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level over 0.08%, in order to be charged with a DUI or DWI.

Now we can get into the mess of figuring out what penalties or fines a person can expect when he/she is found guilty and charged with a DUI or DWI, but with these tips, you won’t have to worry about that. Some of these tips may seem obvious, but then why do people still get arrested? These tips are focused on how to handle the pre-arrest situation. They will help you avoid having a police officer stop you in the first place.

Obey Traffic Laws by Driving Safe and Drinking Responsibly

I would encourage all drivers, not to drink AT ALL before operation a motor vehicle. However, since it is not illegal and you won’t be penalized unless the BAC limit is over 0.08%, I would encourage all drivers to drink responsibly. In there is ever a case where you have had one or two drinks and you had to drive home, do not give a police officer a reason to pull you over. This means obeying all traffic laws, such as driving under the speed limit and stopping at red lights and STOP signs.

The Police Officer Pulls You Over, Now What? Be Respectful

There are many times where a person is arrested for no other reason than giving the police offer a hard time, when he pulled him/her over. If a police officer is having a long, hard day, the last thing he wants is a driver to give him any sass. When stopped by the officer, it is not a wise decision to challenge him/her, or request to see the supervisor. A more effective strategy is to be respectful. Remember, they put their lives on the line every day, keeping the world safe and making it a better place. When asked a question, an officer will respond greatly to “yes sir, no sir” answers. Treating the officer with respect will go a long way and sometimes they will cut you a break. If you respond by being uncooperative, the officer will take that as a sign of intoxication or consciousness of guilt.

To Make the Experience Less Complicated, Put the Officer at Ease

There are many things you can do, as a passenger of a motor-vehiclist to keep the police officer at ease after he pulls you over. Again, these may seem like obvious tips, but you would be surprised by how many uncooperative drivers a police officer has to deal with each year. First, keep both hands on the steering-wheel, so the officer can see them. This way, he knows that you aren’t dangerous. Secondly, turn on the emergency lights and the interior lights, especially if you are pulled over at night. If the officer knows that he is safe and you are under control, it won’t be likely that he will begin asking you questions like, “Have you had anything to drink tonight?”

Always Have Your Driver’s License, Registration and Insurance in a Readily Accessible Place in the Car

A police officer can only proceed with breath-testing and making any charges when he has reasonable suspicion or probable cause. The court will look at the “totality of the circumstances,” in deciding whether the police officer had reasonable suspicion or probable cause. One of the first things a court will look at when factoring the totality of circumstances is if the driver had trouble finding any of his important documents including his/her driver’s license, registration and insurance. All drivers in New Jersey should have these documents in their cars at all times. If you are having trouble finding any of these, the officer will begin to look for reasons to suspect that you may have been drinking.

Do Not Tell the Officer That You Have Consumed Any Alcohol

You do not have to worry about this, unless you do not follow the tips listed above. However, if you choose to ignore those tips and become uncooperative as soon as a police officer pulls you over, he may ask you if you have consumed an alcohol. It is a personal decision that you have to make, whether or not to lie to the officer or admit that you are guilty. If the officer asks you that question, there is a good chance that he/she already suspects that you have been drinking. If you admit that you are guilty, then he can carry on with the investigation. If you lie, but the officer has enough suspicion to carry on with a breath test and the BAC level is above the limit, it will come back to haunt you.

Being Smart This Holiday Season is Crucial To Staying Out of Hand Cuffs.

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

While everyone is out enjoying the holiday with beer, wine and spirits the local police force is on patrol most likely not in the holiday spirit. Because the numbers of people on the roads increase dramatically during this time, it is not uncommon for the amount of check points to go up through these next couple of months.  Being smart this holiday season is crucial to staying in the company of your family and not with the counties finest this year.

It isn’t uncommon for people to get jammed up with the police while celebrating the holidays for getting a DUI and DWI in NJ. But by planning ahead you can keep yourself out of trouble and out of the local newspaper.  Before you go to a family members , friends or your local bar to celebrate make a few good decisions:

First, figure out how you are going to get your destination safely.

Second, make arrangements to get picked up before you go so that you aren’t stranded at the end of the night. No matter how old you are, your parents will always pick you up.

Third, if going to a family members or friend’s house bring a blanket and pillow so you can find a spot to crash. We all know that after a few drinks a couch or floor is just fine.

Lastly, be smart! Draw straws to see who the designated driver is. Sometimes we all have to put our pride aside and step up to keep our family and friends safe! Being this person is a big responsibility, but comes with the peace of mind knowing that not only will you get home safe and sound but also that the people you are with will as well. In some ways this can be the biggest present you can give. Also you won’t be looking for an expungement Lawyer in NJ to get rid of you DUI and DWI in Camden County NJ.

 

The Effects Of Drinking And Driving

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Drunk driving is a major problem that law enforcement is striving to prevent and control. An alcohol-related car accident and drunk-driving conviction can have many negative consequences in your life, including jail or prison time, a criminal record, car repair or replacement, restitution, guilt and grief over harm to others, higher insurance premiums, a civil lawsuit, fines, court and administrative fees, community service, alcohol education, substance-abuse treatment, social stigma, and restrictions on or revocation of your driver’s license.

The causes and effects of drinking and driving are staggering. Poor coordination, disorientation, blackouts, slurred speech, poor self-esteem and double vision are just the short-term effects of alcohol abuse. The long-term effects of alcohol consumption can include heart disease, peptic ulcers and cirrhosis a debilitating liver disease called.

Studies have shown it only takes three to four, 12-ounce beers for a 170 pound male to become intoxicated, and one to three of those same beers for an average sized woman to become intoxicated.

After the nightmare of a drunk-driving trial, conviction and sentence, your driving privileges may still be intact or may be restored. However, the question of  automobile insurance becomes more complex and expensive. Exactly what your insurance company legally can do varies from state to state and depends on the insurance law of your state.

Your insurance company may cancel or decline to renew your policy, restrict coverage provisions or increase your premiums based on your drunk driving record. Overall your premiums could go up as much as 100 percent or more.

How your insurer reacts to your drunk driving may be worse if you have other strikes against you, including previous drunk-driving convictions, traffic tickets, at-fault accidents, late or unpaid insurance premiums or other negative history with the insurer. Other significant issues your record may impact is coverage by other types of insurance policies, such as life or medical insurance.