Heightened Holiday DWI Enforcement Efforts in NJ
January 6, 2024
Towns Across New Jersey Received Funding to Implement Increased Enforcement Tactics Targeting DUI Offenders, Including in Evesham, Pemberton, and Westhampton
It’s the classic yet tragic annual event around the holidays to celebrate with family and friends and then drive home drunk, especially during the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. As a result, DWIs and DWI-related car accidents run rampant around New Jersey. Through the months of November to January 1st, law enforcement pulls over erratic drivers or stops intoxicated drivers at checkpoints more frequently than at other times of the year. In response, New Jersey’s Attorney General’s Office kicked off its “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” push.
If you were arrested during the holiday sweep in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, or another area of Southern New Jersey, consult with a DWI defense attorney at Proetta, Oliver, & Fay to discuss your case free of costs. Once we review the facts of what occurred before, during, and after your arrest, we may discover police improprieties or other infringements of your rights to challenge the DWI. Do not risk facing a DWI alone. Contact us 24/7 at 609-850-8284.
Frequency of Drunk Driving During the Holiday Season Leads to Annual Crackdown in New Jersey
Last year, 69 New Jersey drunk driving fatalities occurred during the weeks-long span from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. Of course, the holiday drunk driving deaths rise significantly nationwide during the holidays and are not limited to New Jersey. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported over 4,500 drunk driving-related deaths in December over five years between 2017 and 2021.
To tackle the problem, New Jersey issued over three-quarters of a million dollars in law enforcement grant money to police agencies across the state to bolster DWI enforcement and checkpoints. In joint efforts with the NHTSA, 132 police agencies received $795,340.00 in grant money to boost enforcement efforts from mid-December until New Year’s Day.
Purpose of DUI Grants to Fund Enforcement Efforts
With the grant money, the state seeks to prevent the overwhelming number of car crashes from drunk driving. Almost a third of all fatal crashes across the U.S. are alcohol-related, according to the NHTSA. Of the 13,384 fatal vehicular crashes of 2021, all involved impaired driving. Moreover, in only one month, December of 2021, nearly 10% of the total fatalities for the year occurred.
Funds spread over 19 counties, including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean county, have increased the numbers of police on patrol and sobriety checkpoints. Burlington municipalities including Evesham Township, Pemberton Borough, Pemberton Township, and Westhampton received $283,500.00 for increased law enforcement efforts to pursue intoxicated drivers in the county. However, city allotments across the 19 counties range from around $2,000 to $14,000.00, the latter received by Vineland of Cumberland County.
Last Year’s DWI Arrests Predict Similar Numbers
Last year’s campaign for holiday sobriety yielded 574 impaired driver arrests, among the thousands of traffic tickets. Unfortunately for some, this year’s campaign will likely result in hundreds of DWI arrests and thousands of dollars in fines, fees, and surcharges. Spending the night in jail during the holidays may seem like punishment enough, but the DWI laws are stringent.
New Jersey Takes Driving Under the Influence Seriously All Year Long
New Jersey’s drunk and drugged driving laws are a framework of tiered penalties based on blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and prior DWI history. Penalties include jail time, community service, fines, insurance surcharges for three years, license suspensions, educational courses, and rental fees and installation charges for an ignition interlock device (IID) in the driver’s vehicle.
However, the outcome is even worse for the drunk or drugged driver when an accident involving impaired driving occurs. They face punishment for a DWI and often also for the criminal offense of a DWI accident with bodily injury. The penalty depends on the extent of damages arising from the accident. It is a third-degree offense when serious bodily injury occurs. A third-degree crime is punishable by up to five years in prison and $15,000.00 in fines. A DWI accident with bodily injury is a fourth-degree crime, punishable by a maximum of 18 months in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.
But even a DWI alone during the holiday season can strain family relationships and finances as well as jeopardize an individual’s livelihood. A a previous DWI within ten years can result in a license suspension for up to two years for a second DWI offense. Alternative transportation costs and burdening others for rides can wear down strained relationships. A DWI may also affect child custody. A family court judge in a divorce proceeding may deem an individual with multiple DWIs a danger to children and limit custody.
Talk to a Lawyer if You Got Arrested for DUI Over the Holidays in Southern New Jersey
When all is said and done, a DWI arrest has long-lasting consequences. Since a DWI cannot be expunged from a driving record, a DWI conviction stains your driving record forever, limiting job options and other opportunities requiring a clean driving record. A DWI arrest can leave you depressed and broke during the holidays, but you may only know that you have options once you speak with a knowledgeable DWI defense attorney. Though you may think you can handle a DWI alone, you should at least consult with an attorney before you make that decision because even though the DWI laws are strict, there are still potential defenses to a DWI you may not know.
For one, law enforcement must follow laws and rules regarding traffic stops, field sobriety tests, arrests, interrogations, breathalyzer tests, and checkpoints. Disregarded or sloppily handled laws and procedures can result in a dismissal of your case. For example, the holiday grants for additional DWI checkpoints do not alleviate the requirements of a lawful checkpoint. A sobriety checkpoint must be planned, approved by the appropriate supervisory authority, and limited in scope as to location and time. Additionally, officers must conspicuously warn drivers of the checkpoint with signs and lighting. They may ask for your papers and other basic questions but do not have the right to detain you for an unreasonably long time at a checkpoint.
A defective checkpoint may invalidate a DWI arrest just as an illegal detention or improper breathalyzer protocol may result in a DWI dismissal. However, you may only know whether law enforcement made mistakes or violated your constitutional rights if you speak to an experienced DUI lawyer. Our team of attorneys has been practicing DWI defense for over ten years each, handling hundreds of driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated cases over the course of our careers. We know what to look for and how to employ defenses that work to deliver the optimal result in your case. Call at 609-850-8284 or contact us online for a free consultation.