DUI Overturned Due To Inappropriate Court Procedure
- July 18, 2013
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The facts in this DUI are that the defendant was stopped for speeding and admitted to the officer he had been drinking. After administering field sobriety tests the officer attempted to handcuff the defendant. Both the officer’s testimony and the patrol car video show that the defendant resisted arrest and was wrestled to the ground by multiple officers then pepper sprayed. The defendant was ultimately charged with DUI and also resisting arrest, aggravated assault on a police officer and spitting on a police officer. In NJ Superior Court, the defendant pleaded guilty to the assault charges. Defendant next had to answer to the DUI charges in municipal court and moved to suppress evidence based on his claim the police lacked probable cause to stop him. The Judge, in State v. Gibson, found probable cause for the stop and then relied on the officer’s testimony and video from the patrol car to determine the defendant had difficulty with the field sobriety tests in finding probable cause for the arrest. Due to chain of custody issues with the defendant’s blood sample, the prosecutor would rely on the video and the officer’s testimony at trial and defendant moved to dismiss claiming the State could not prove its case without the blood sample. The Judge heard the defendant and the state as to whether the evidence in the suppression hearing met the state’s burden of proof then found the defendant guilty of the DUI. On appeal, the Superior Court Judge found the use of pre-trial evidence to convict was inappropriate but not prejudicial and upheld the conviction. The Appellate Division reversed the decision and ordered a not guilty finding reasoning that a suppression hearing pertains to admissibility of evidence but is not a trial of the matter at which all evidence is presented or at which testimony is offered and cross-examined. Due to the deprivation of due process rights, the defendant prevailed. A conviction for driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence in NJ has serious and lasting effects including the obvious loss of license as well as ramifications in later civil or criminal suits for wrongful death, damages and the like. A DUI, even if a first, can result in lengthy suspensions, fines and even jeopardize your ability to obtain certain professional licenses or other jobs. If you are charged with DUI in NJ, you should contact an experienced driving under the influence defense attorney to protect your rights. For more information about DWI, controlled dangerous substances (CDS) in a motor vehicle, reckless driving or other serious motor vehicle charges in New Jersey visit www.HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.