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How To Defend Against Your DWI In New Jersey

Are you faced with a DWI charge in New Jersey? If so, it’s critical that you speak with an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible to ensure you understand all of the potential outcomes of the charges you face. 

Once you are familiar with your legal rights and options, you will feel better prepared to fight the prosecutor’s case against you. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your traffic stop and arrest, our New Jersey DWI attorneys may be able to negotiate a reduction or even a complete dismissal of your charges.

What the prosecution has to prove for a DUI conviction 

For you to be convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the prosecutor must demonstrate two things beyond a reasonable doubt: 

  1. That you operated the motor vehicle 
  2. That you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs while operating the motor vehicle 

If either fact is called into question, the judge may determine that there is not enough evidence to make a conviction. 

Experienced NJ DUI lawyers explain top DWI defense strategies

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests in New Jersey can come with serious consequences, even for first-time offenders. If you’re convicted of the charge, you may be facing jail time, a costly fine, and the suspension of your driver’s license.

The good news is that there are several defense strategies to consider that may result in the charges being dismissed or reduced. For maximum effect, these strategies need to be considered early on, so the sooner you begin building your case, the better.  

How can I get a DWI charge dismissed in New Jersey?

If law enforcement officers violated either New Jersey law or the United States constitution during your arrest, some or all of the prosecutor’s evidence against you may be inadmissible in court. Your criminal defense attorney may file a pretrial motion, requesting that the judge suppress any illegally obtained evidence in question. 

A successful pre-trial motion can significantly weaken the DUI case against you by preventing the prosecutor from using your blood alcohol content (BAC), self-incriminating statements, or evidence related to your initial traffic stop. For example, evidence of drunk driving—such as an open alcoholic container found within your vehicle—may not be admissible in court if the arresting officer lacked “reasonable articulable suspicion” that you’d broken the law prior to the search

Strategically dismantling the prosecution’s case in this way is one of the best strategies to get a DWI/DUI charge reduced or dismissed. 

Motion to suppress evidence from a traffic stop with lack of probable cause 

If a police officer stops you for suspected drunk driving, the onus is on the prosecutor to present  evidence as to why the traffic stop was properly conducted within the confines of the law. For example, it’s unlawful for a police officer to stop you for simply walking from a bar to your car without anything more. However, if the same police officer were to witness you stumbling out of a bar or driving your car in an unusual driving pattern, the stop would become lawful. 

Suppressing breath test results establishing intoxication 

There are several ways to attack the government’s attempt to include evidence of blood alcohol content (BAC) results

Failure to uphold the mandatory 20-minute observation period 

Breath test accuracy can be affected by the presence of mouth alcohol. Mouth alcohol may be present if you chewed gum, vomited, belched, or experienced strong acid reflux too close to the time of your test. For this reason, the Supreme Court requires law enforcement officers to observe individuals for at least 20 minutes before administering a breath test.

If your arresting officer failed to meet and document this requirement, your breath test results may be inadmissible. 

The presence of interfering substances 

Common items like mouthwash, cough drops, and asthma medication contain forms of alcohol. Though the alcohol in these everyday items is not the same as the alcohol consumed in a drink, it may still cause a false positive result on a breath test.

If your attorney can prove that any of these substances were present at the time of the breath test, or the police failed to document a check for these substances, your breath test results may be inadmissible. 

Failure to read the Implied Consent warning 

Law enforcement must read the New Jersey Implied Consent Law before administering a breath test. In the absence of the implied consent warning, DUI charges may be dismissed.  

Breath test machine malfunction

If the police officer’s breath test machine is malfunctioning at the time of your test, the reading may be considered inadmissible in court. 

Breath test machine improperly operated or failure to certify 

Law enforcement officers must follow certain procedures when administering a breath test. This includes obtaining certain certifications. If a prosecutor cannot prove that these procedures and certifications were followed, the judge may consider your reading invalid. 

The law enforcement officer must also possess a valid license to operate a breath test machine. Without a valid license, the test will be considered inadmissible. 

Removing your statements regarding alcohol or drug use

Under the right set of circumstances, your criminal defense attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress any self-incriminating statements you made in police custody.

If police detained and handcuffed you without reading your Miranda rights and proceeded to question you, then your answers to those questions may not be admissible. 

A body camera or video recording of the arrest can help your defense attorney determine whether your Miranda rights were read. 

Additional ways to win a DWI case in NJ

Additional factors may also prove useful for your defense. For example: 

Proof provided via dashboard or body-worn cameras

If the prosecutor claims that your driving was erratic and thus justified a traffic stop, video from the police officer’s dashboard camera may help disprove the statement. Similarly, body worn camera footage may demonstrate that you performed significantly better on the field sobriety test than described by the prosecutor. 

Medical concerns

Field sobriety tests do not account for injuries or medical conditions you may be suffering from, such as disabilities that affect the strength in your legs, arms, back, neck, or eyes. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes or acid reflux, may also cause a false positive on a breath test.

Poor driving conditions

Weather reports proving that the weather was icy, windy, or foggy may support your defense by providing an explanation for poor or unusual driving. 


Your DUI attorney may call upon a combination of independent and expert witnesses to support your case. 

Expert witnesses: The defense may have an expert witness review a DUI case to disprove the validity of tests such as breathalyzers, blood tests, and field sobriety tests.    

Independent witnesses: Claims that you were actually sober upon entering your vehicle can be supported by independent observers who witnessed your behavior on the day in question. Your defense attorney may consider contacting bartenders, cashiers, and individuals who interacted with you prior to the stop. 

Before deciding how to proceed, contact us. We can help you determine whether there may be any factors in your case that might work in your favor.

Have you been accused of drunk or drugged driving? Contact Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski to begin building your best defense 

When you’re confident in your innocence, it’s easy to hope that the court will agree and your legal issue will go away on its own. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and DUI convictions can lead to driver’s license suspension, large fines and penalties, or even jail time. 

To protect your future and achieve the best possible outcome in your DUI case, you’ll need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. 

At Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski, we work tirelessly to defend your rights and your future. Our legal team knows how to minimize the negative impacts of your charges, whether negotiating a plea deal or taking your case to trial. We thoroughly investigate all of the factors associated with your arrest to pinpoint potential weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and have unfairly obtained or inaccurate evidence eliminated via a pre-trial motion, whenever possible. 

Don’t wait to build your defense. Contact us now.

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