While drunk driving is not a felony in the state of New Jersey, the law puts forth significant penalties for those who drive under the influence. The police remain on the lookout for suspicious drivers, particularly ones that appear impaired. Upon pulling the driver over, a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer could come into play. Before these steps, a police officer may look for physical indications that the driver appears under the influence.
Physical signs of driving while intoxicated
A vehicle that drives erratically may commit a moving violation that leads to the police pulling the driver over. Upon addressing the driver, the officer might find the person’s behavior suspicious. If the person smells of alcohol or marijuana smoke, a police officer would likely assume the person is under the influence. However, not every scenario comes with the telltale scent of alcohol or the sign of an open container. Other physical symptoms may suggest impairment, though. A person slurring his/her speech could be intoxicated.
The police might ask the person where he/she is coming from and where the individual is going. An incoherent response might lead the officer to assume the person has taken a drug or imbibed in alcohol.
The officer could ask the driver to step out of the vehicle. If the person falls or has trouble standing, more suspicious indicators of intoxication appear.
Problems for the driver
Bloodshot eyes, poor coordination, the inability to understand questions, and other troubling signs might also indicate being impaired. The officer may request the driver take a breathalyzer test. If the breathalyzer shows the driver’s BAC is above the legal limit of .08%, expect an arrest. The threshold is lower for those under 21: .02%.
Refusing a test opens doors to more problems, such as license suspension. And a conviction, even a first-time offense, could mean fines and possible jail time. Although not a felony, New Jersey DWI statutes present tough potential penalties.
A DUI/DWI conviction could follow someone around for life. Anyone concerned about navigating the New Jersey court system may find it valuable to speak to a DWI defense lawyer.