The media love just about any story that seems to offer a “gotcha” angle. It’s not just like this with politicians — even average New Jersey residents may find themselves the subject of national attention if they happen to be caught on camera in apparently compromising circumstances. Embarrassment is one thing, but this exposure can have serious consequences if the individual is a defendant charged with DUI.
A few days before Christmas, in a town just north of Morristown, local police received a call about a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot of a Target store. In the hours before dawn, the van was reportedly idling with its headlights on and music playing loudly from within. Police claim to have found the driver, a man in his early twenties, sleeping in the driver’s seat.
Police allege that after waking the driver, they smelled alcohol on him observed an open beer can in the car. They also claim that he was unclear as to where he was. Police conducted field sobriety tests at the scene, and then brought the driver in for a Breathalyzer test. He is now facing multiple drunk driving-related charges.
Police video also shows the driver in a holiday-themed costume. These images have led to national media picking up the story and running it with all manner of commentary. It’s unfortunate that such online discussion rarely, if ever, highlights the problems inherent in field sobriety tests and even breath tests, let alone the fact that this defendant (like any other) is entitled to a presumption of innocence.
A criminal defense professional will fight to make sure that side of the story does not get overlooked in court. Our criminal defense law blog will examine field sobriety tests in greater detail in a follow-up post.