Can the state prove you were the operator of the vehicle?
It seems ridiculous, but it is true—you may be charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI) while sleeping in your vehicle in a parking lot or driveway. If you do not take action to defend yourself against a drunk driving charge, you may suffer penalties as severe as if you were driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol.
The Legislature has established the operation of a motor vehicle as an element of an offense of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a). The concept of operation has been defined by case law (See State v. Mulcahy, 107 N.J. 467 (1987) and State v. Daly 64 N.J. 122 (1973)) rather than defined by the Legislature. The court decision of State v. DiFrancisco, 232 N.J. Super 317 (1988) further explores the definition of operation of a motor vehicle under the statute in New Jersey.
The New Jersey DWI attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall provide a vigorous defense on behalf of clients charged with operating while intoxicated. Before pleading guilty to DWI, contact us and arrange a free consultation with an attorney.
Defense of a charge of operating under the influence
There are two key questions our lawyer will address when defending you against a charge of operating while intoxicated:
- Can the State prove you were the operator of the vehicle? If you were standing outside of the car when the arresting officer first saw you, or were in the driver’s seat but did not have control of the keys, our lawyers may successfully challenge the claim that you were operating the vehicle.
- Can the State prove you were intoxicated? Blood and breath tests are not always reliable and roadside sobriety tests and other evaluations of behavior can be challenged. Our attorneys will examine the police record and the results of chemical tests for drugs or alcohol. If there is a question about the charge of intoxication, the lawyers may call on scientific experts to support your challenge of the tests.
Have you been charged with allowing an intoxicated person to drive?
Even if you were not the operator of your vehicle, you can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) for knowingly allowing an intoxicated person to drive the car. The DWI penalties for a guilty plea or conviction can have serious consequences—it is worth it to take action to protect yourself.
Operation of boat while intoxicated
If you are driving a boat, and your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or more, you may be charged with operating while intoxicated and suffer the same penalties as if you were driving a car.
If you have been arrested for DUI or DWI and would like to discuss a defense strategy, or if you have any other questions, please call toll free 877-450-8301 or e-mail our Red Bank law firm to arrange a free consultation with a lawyer.
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