DWI Charges in Jersey City, NJ
Jersey City consistently processes the most DWI charges in Hudson County, New Jersey every year by far. In fact, on average, they arrest about one person everyday for DUI in Jersey City. This extraordinarily high number of DWI cases is attributed to several things. Not only is Jersey City the second largest city in the state but the city is patrolled by several different law enforcement agencies such as the Port Authority Police, Hudson County Sheriff’s Department, New Jersey Transit Police, State Police and Jersey City Police Department. On one hand, the Jersey Police Department normally has a reactive approach to policing when it comes to DWI arrests which means you will rarely see Jersey City PD out on DWI patrol looking for drunk drivers. However, the local police still make a lot of DWI arrests each year which normally result from car accidents when the driver is found intoxicated behind the wheel. On the other hand, the Port Authority Police are normally more aggressive and tend to keep a close watch on suspected drunk drivers entering and exiting the Holland Tunnel. They will also routinely set up DWI roadblocks or checkpoints around the Holland Tunnel. It is also important to note that the area of New Jersey Turnpike that runs through Jersey City is usually heavily patrolled by the State Police who are on the outlook for suspected DWI drivers coming out of the city after a night out. Later in the article we actually give a bulleted list of areas that are “DWI Hot Spots” in Jersey City.
How To Find The Best DWI Lawyer In Jersey City
Prospective clients often say they want the best DUI attorney in Jersey City or someone who is friends with the judge and prosecutor to handle their case. But in real life, unlike the movies or sitcoms, there isn’t a wink and secret handshake that is going to make your DWI magically get dismissed. Now don’t get me wrong – having a friendly and professional relationship with the judge and prosecutor is always helpful. It allows for a certain level of comfort and familiarity with how they like to do things, what works and doesn’t work, and if your attorney has credibility with the court then the prosecutor and judge will often rely on their word about a potential issue rather than litigating it down the line. However, what we always tell clients during consultations is the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with your prospective attorney because you will have to be working very closely together over the next several months while the case is ongoing. This is why we normally give clients our cellphone numbers in addition to the office number and email so we can have open and free flowing lines of communication. When it comes to choosing the right attorney for your case, there isn’t any crowned prince or proverbial “king of the hill” in Jersey City, but like most towns and counties there is a small group of criminal defense attorneys who handle the majority of private cases and are well known by the prosecutors and judges. By doing your due diligence and research you can often times get recommendations from friends and read reviews online to help select a few attorneys to consult with and ultimately come to your decision.
Major Highways &DWI Hot Spots In Jersey City
Over the last decade, our attorneys have handled hundreds of drunk driving cases, including dozens in Jersey City Municipal Court. We have created a list of “hot spots”, which are areas of the city where we often see DWI cases coming out of. As part of this list we have identified the type of officers you will normally come into contact with in each area and potential strengths or weaknesses that may affect your DUI case so you can be aware of them for potential defenses.
- Holland Tunnel – The Holland Tunnel is primarily patrolled by the Port Authority Police Department. They will normally stop vehicles that are operating erratically coming in or out of the tunnel or will respond to accidents in or around the tunnel. This law enforcement agency is unique because the officers will normally work in both NY and NJ depending on their shift. This can work to a DWI defendant’s benefit because the laws in each state differ and can sometimes to contribute to confusion by the officers.
- New Jersey Turnpike Extension – The NJ Turnpike Extension is heavily patrolled by New Jersey State Police. The troopers know this is a hot spot for pulling over potential drunk drivers heading home after a night of drinking in Jersey City or NYC. They look for erratic drivers late at night or in the early morning hours and vehicles pulled over on the shoulder on the highway.
- U.S. 1 & 9 – We often see the section of Route 1&9 that turns into Tonnele Ave patrolled by Hudson County Sheriff Officers. In our experience the sheriff officers are more reactive rather than proactive when it comes to DWI stops. This means it is common to see a sheriff officer DWI case when there was an accident that they responded to. DUI patrol is typically not a primary function of the sheriff officers in Hudson County and, in our experience, this often leads to mistakes in processing DWI suspects or overlooking important record keeping which can lead to strong defenses down the line.
- Interstate 78 – Similar to the NJ Turnpike, this stretch of highway is patrolled by NJ State Police. State police in this area primarily operate from their Newark Barracks from across the bridge. The state police highly trained for DWI patrol and arrests and therefore will often keep meticulous records. They are fitted with a microphone, body worn camera, and video in their patrol car. However, sometimes their meticulous record keeping and video evidence can be used to a defendant’s advantage. This is because if anything was done incorrectly it will most likely be documented somewhere along the lines if you take the time to go through all the evidence. Moreover, all this evidence has to be uploaded into a centralized database through the state and then sent to the municipal prosecutor and is not directly accessible to the prosecutor like evidence from local cop cases. This can often times cause delays in receiving the evidence in a timely manner or even at all which can be leveraged to a defendant’s benefit.
- Pulaski Skyway; Route 139 & Route 440 – These roadways are commonly patrolled by the Jersey City Police Department. Generally speaking, JCPD is more reactive rather than proactive when it comes to DWI arrests in our experience. Like any big city the police department has their fair share of crime, quality of life issues, and local peacekeeping duties to deal. This results in the vast majority of JCPD DWI cases that we come across being from the result of a car accident that officers responded to. Although a car accident can sometimes make things much worse because it is considered an aggravating factor, especially if somebody is injured, they can also create potential defenses. For instance, when there is a car accident where airbags deployed or the car is totaled, we often take the position that the results of any field sobriety tests given at the scene such as a balancing test are clearly compromised because the DWI suspect could be suffering from an unknown injury or shock as a result of the car accident and not in fact exhibiting signs of intoxication.
- Journal Square & Exchange Place – Journal Square Transportation Center is one of New Jersey’s busiest transportation center. The area in and around and between Journal Square and Exchange Place is heavily patrolled by NJ Transit Police among other agencies as they travel between the two transportation hubs. NJ Transit Police will often respond to accidents or pull over drivers they see driving unsafely which can in turn result in DWI charges. DUI investigations are not a primary function of NJ Transit Police so it is common for us to find things missed or done incorrectly by the transit cops which can be used as leverage for our client’s defense in furtherance of suppression of evidence or dismissal of the DWI.
- Liberty State Park – Many people are surprised to learn that the Liberty State Park is actually patrolled by a separate law enforcement agency State Park Police which is different that the New Jersey State Police. These park police have full police powers just like other officers you’ll encounter within the city limits and, in our experience, are more aggressive with active policing because they don’t have as much to do. Drivers often come into contact with the park police because it is common to cut through the park to avoid local traffic. Park police are also often on the look out for suspicious vehicles parked in isolated areas of the park where people may be using drugs or drinking alcohol. So just remember before you go to your next dinner or wedding at the popular venue Liberty House to drink responsibly or arrange travel ahead of time or you could come into contact with one of these state park police officers out to score a DWI arrest.
Where Do I Go For Court For My DWI Case?
A DWI is a traffic violation in New Jersey, not a criminal offense so your case will be heard at the Jersey City Municipal Court, which will normally be scheduled within a week or two of the alleged violation. However, it’s not uncommon for the case to drag on for several months prior to a trial. Jersey City has a very busy court but they put a special onus on the DWI cases. All drunk driving cases are normally sent to Courtroom #4, where they are put on special DWI days and only handled by the Chief Municipal Court Judge. The Jersey City Municipal Prosecutor’s Office then specifically assigns only the most experienced and aggressive prosecutors to handle the DWI cases. The pertinent information for the Jersey City Municipal Court has been provided below for your convenience.
|Location: Lewis S. McRae Justice Complex, 365 Summit Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306
Hours of Operation: Monday – Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Friday 8:00 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Jurisdiction: DWI, disorderly persons offenses, municipal ordinances, and traffic tickets.
Chief Judge: Honorable Carlo Abad, JMC
What Are The Elements Of A New Jersey D.W.I. Charge?
The municipal prosecutors in Jersey City Municipal Court are well trained in prosecuting DUI cases and will put together a strong case to prove intoxication beyond a reasonable doubt. The state can prosecute an individual based on the evidence that the police gathered from their investigation. This can include the balancing and eye tests that you performed on the roadside as well as the breathalyzer reading from the Alcotest machine. In situations were you refused to give a breath sample, the prosecutor will look to show that the police properly read and explained you your rights and your duty to take the breathalyzer and that you knowingly refused. Below we put together a chart of the evidence that the prosecutor will use to try and prove you guilty of DWI:
|Standard Field Sobriety Testing (“SFSTs”)|
1) HGN – Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
2)Walk & Turn
3) One Leg Stand
**The results of SFSTs can be used for probable cause for arrest to prove a DWI case without a valid breath reading.
|Alcotest Machine (Breathalyzer)|
The New Jersey Supreme Court in State v. Chun found that the Alcotest 7110 with firmware version 3.11 is scientifically reliable.
The Alcotest, manufactured by Draeger, is now used uniformly across New Jersey by local police departments and state troopers.
The result of the breath reading, if 0.08 or higher, will be used as per se DWI violation
Help Finding A Jersey City DWI Lawyer
Although drunk driving charges are traffic offenses, they are some of the hardest cases to defend in New Jersey because there is no plea bargaining allowed. This means that the prosecutor can not offer you a dismissal or lower charge simply because it is your first time in trouble or you were polite and cooperative with the police officers. To make matters worse, the penalties are mandatory and harsh. A conviction for DUI in Jersey City will result in a mandatory interlock device, potential loss of driving privileges for up to 6 months for a first offense, court ordered driving classes and thousands in surcharges – even for out-of-state drivers caught driving intoxicated within New Jersey. For these reasons it is always important to try and hire an experienced DWI defense attorney that can give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome. Attorney William Proetta has set aside a large portion of his practice to DUI defense and litigation. As such, Mr. Proetta is certified by our state’s breathalyzer manufacturer, Draeger Diagnostics, as an operator for the Alcotest machine and is also separately certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as an Instructor in Standard Field Sobriety Testing used in New Jersey. These certifications, coupled with the fact that Will Proetta has handled hundreds of DUI cases throughout New Jersey including Jersey City, are qualifications that only a small handful of attorneys possess in the entire state. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Jersey City, then contact our office to speak with an experienced DWI lawyer at (201) 793-8018 during a free initial consultation.