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What Evidence Can You Use to Fight a DUI in New Jersey?

April 5, 2024 | Posted In Drunk Driving

If you are facing a DUI charge in New Jersey, determining what evidence is available is a critical step for developing an effective defense strategy. While there are several ways to fight a DUI charge, the options you have depend on the evidence available to both you and the prosecution. Working with an experienced New Jersey DUI defense lawyer who can collect and analyze this evidence is critical, and talking to an experienced lawyer is one of the first things you should do after a DUI arrest.

Types of Evidence in New Jersey DUI Cases

So, what evidence can prosecutors use against you, and what evidence can you use to fight your DUI charge in New Jersey? Here are 10 types of evidence commonly used in New Jersey DUI cases:

1. Dash Camera Footage

Police cruisers in New Jersey are equipped with dash cameras that officers can use to record their traffic stops and their interactions with drivers on the side of the road. If the officer who arrested you recorded your traffic stop, the officer’s dash camera footage could be key evidence in your case. For example, if the footage shows you driving erratically, prosecutors may present this as evidence that your driving abilities were impaired. Conversely, if the footage shows that you were obeying New Jersey’s traffic laws, your defense lawyer may be able to use the footage to argue that the police stopped you without reasonable suspicion.

2. Body-Worn Camera Footage

Along with dash cameras, police officers in New Jersey use body-worn cameras to record their interactions with DUI suspects. If the officer who arrested you recorded your actions and statements with a body-worn camera, this footage could be key evidence in your case as well.

Just like dash camera footage, body-worn camera footage can either help or hurt your defense, depending on what it shows. If the footage clearly shows you stumbling or admitting to driving before you got behind the wheel, this might suggest that seeking a plea bargain is your best option. However, if the footage shows that you were not impaired, or if it shows that the arresting officer improperly administered the field sobriety tests (FSTs) or breathalyzer, then the officer’s body-worn camera footage could be key evidence for your defense.

3. The Arresting Officer’s Testimony

The officer who arrested you may testify during your DUI trial. During his or her testimony, the officer will state why he or she decided to pull you over and arrest you for DUI. But if the prosecution calls your arresting officer to testify, your New Jersey DUI defense lawyer will have the opportunity to conduct a cross-examination, which can be a key opportunity to raise questions about the viability of the prosecution’s case.

4. Your Field Sobriety Test (FST) Results

If you took the field sobriety tests during your DUI stop, the prosecution will almost certainly try to use your FST results against you at trial. However, there are several inherent issues with the FSTs, and an experienced New Jersey DUI defense lawyer will be able to present evidence of these issues in order to challenge the reliability and relevance of your FST “failure.” Your defense lawyer may also be able to present evidence of alternate explanations for your purported FST “failure,” such as evidence that the arresting officer failed to provide proper instructions, that the road or lighting conditions affected your performance, or that you have a medical condition that affects your balance.

5. Your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Test Result

While blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test results can be strong evidence of guilt in some cases, there are several issues that can render BAC readings unreliable and irrelevant as well. For example, if the breathalyzer device wasn’t properly calibrated, then your BAC reading generally should not be admissible as evidence of guilt. Medical conditions can artificially inflate your BAC as well, and your BAC can continue to rise long after you stop drinking—which means that your BAC at the time of testing could be higher than your BAC at the time you were driving.

6. Your Statements to the Arresting Officer

If you made any statements to the arresting officer, your statements could either help or hurt your case, depending on what you said. If you admitted to drinking and driving, this isn’t going to help—though you still have plenty of options available. On the other hand, if you effectively asserted your legal rights, complied with the law and steadfastly maintained your innocence, then your statements to the arresting officer could help raise serious doubt about the prosecution’s case.

7. Your Testimony in Court

When you are facing a DUI charge in New Jersey, you have the option of testifying in court. Your New Jersey DUI defense lawyer can help you decide whether to testify and if testifying makes sense, your defense lawyer can help you thoroughly prepare for your day at trial.

8. Social Media Posts

Social media posts are another type of evidence that can either help or hurt your DUI case. If you posted photos of yourself out drinking on the night of the arrest, prosecutors will almost certainly try to use these photos against you (though these photos alone are not evidence that you were driving drunk). Conversely, if you (or your friends or family members) have photos that show you were doing something other than drinking before you got behind the wheel, these could aid in your defense.

9. Receipts and Credit Card Statements  

When pursuing DUI charges, prosecutors can obtain receipts and credit card statements to show that defendants were out drinking on the night in question. If your receipts and credit card statements do not show that you were out drinking, this does not necessarily mean that you will be able to avoid a conviction, but it can help with establishing reasonable doubt.

10. Exculpatory Evidence

Finally, under the U.S. Constitution, prosecutors have an obligation to disclose any evidence that suggests you are innocent. This is known as exculpatory evidence. If any exculpatory evidence is available in your case, presenting this evidence in court could be one of the most effective (and most efficient) ways to fight your New Jersey DUI.

11. Blood or Urine Testing

While it can be highly accurate,  there are issues that can be raised regarding blood or urine testing. For example, were the samples properly taken? Was it taken in violation of the rights of the defendant? Was it taken properly by a trained nurse or technician? Was it properly preserved (e.g. blood not immediately refrigerated will oxidize and the reading of blood containing no alcohol will quickly result in ever increasing alcohol level)? What about the chain of possession of the blood or urine evidence? 

Also note that there is a huge range of issues with police testifying as experts. For example, let’s look at drug influence experts. DRE testimony ,which is discussed extensively in the recent case of Re: State v. Olenowski (II), notes that with the prevalence of marijuana use since it’s legalization, there is an increasing number of cases involving drugs instead of alcohol. That said, challenging the expertise of the officers, the procedures used, calling one’s own experts, etc., requires very experienced attorneys.

Discuss Your Case with an Experienced New Jersey DUI Defense Lawyer for Free

If you are facing a DUI charge in New Jersey and would like to know more about the evidence you can use to fight your charge, we encourage you to schedule a free initial consultation at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.C. To discuss your case with an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer in confidence, call 877-435-6371 or request an appointment online today.

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