As a New Jersey DWI lawyer, my goal is always to do the best job for my client, which means seeking to get the DWI dismissed. If that cannot be accomplished based on the circumstances of the case, then the next goal is to seek a reduction of the suspension time.

In first offense DWI cases in New Jersey, there is a two tiered sentencing structure.

If your breath or blood alcohol result was 0.10% or greater, then you are an alleged second-tier offender. This means, that if convicted, you face a license suspension of 7 to 12 months. If your breath breath or blood alcohol result was 0.15% or higher, then you are also subject to mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.

If your breath or blood alcohol result was less than 0.10%, then you are an alleged first tier offender, which carries a maximum license suspension of three months, and there is no mandatory required interlock installation.

The fines and assessments for a first or second tier violation are the same, essentially. You can expect to pay about $700 in court fines, a $3000 surcharge to the state out of court, payable at $1000 a year, and payable monthly. Your automobile insurance company will also surcharge you separately. Depending on your gender, age group, marital status, and prior history, insurance companies surcharges can be more than $1000 a year, additional. For higher risk drivers, including younger drivers, the surcharge can be several thousand dollars a year.

Because New Jersey does not have a work license or a hardship license, reduction of the suspension time between a second tier offense and a first tier offense is significant.

In order to obtain the best result in your circumstance, it is critical that you consult with a qualified New Jersey DWI attorney. That lawyer can best assess your circumstances, assess the strengths and weaknesses of your situation, and advise you on how to proceed. Your lawyer should have a reputation for going to trial in case. Prosecutors, judges and police officers will then know that your lawyer is prepared to fight for you.

There are many ways to be successful in DWI defense. Cases can be won and suspensions can be eliminated or reduced.

Even if you have a high breath test result, the reading can be suppressed. For example if you have a reading that puts you in the second tier and you’re facing an interlock, procedural issues such as failure to provide discovery or failure to follow protocol, the reading can be suppressed and that second tier case now becomes a first tier case. Then, if the physical case against you can be successfully addressed, the DWI can be dismissed.

Call us at Levow & Associates for a free consultation regarding your New Jersey DWI arrest.

A New Jersey DWI charge is very serious and has significant consequences if you are convicted. As a result, your defense must be thoroughly planned and executed to obtain the best results possible.

It is always the goal of the qualified DWI defense attorney to attempt to have a DWI charge dismissed. The success of having the DWI dismissed, of course, depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the case and the overall situation.

Your DWI lawyer must always be ready to go to trial in your case. That doesn’t mean that your case will end up in trial, however if your lawyer is ready to actually try your case, the prosecutor, police officer, and judge may look at your circumstances differently.

In determining whether to actually go to trial in your case, the DWI attorney must assess what the best result is without a trial and the best result if the case proceeds to trial. If you can get a better result by going to trial, then you must weight the potential for success against the cost of trial, including what would happen with a negative result.

One of the most significant issues in this regard is whether there are additional charges that could result in a longer suspension, or even jail time, if you were to go to trial and lose. Four instance, if you were involved in an accident and left the scene of the accident, you are subject to additional suspension time. If there was personal injury from that accident, you are subject to jail time. You would have to consider whether you want to risk adding that suspension or jail time, if your lawyer can get rid of those charges without a trial.

The same considerations apply if the suspension time can be reduced with a plea, but if you go to trial, the suspension time may be longer.

Your New Jersey DWI attorney should lay out all of the possible options for you, go through them thoroughly, and let you decide how you wish to proceed. Only you can determine what is in your best interest and how to move forward, but it is critical that you have a qualified New Jersey DWI lawyer to fully inform you regarding the circumstances. You must have a lawyer that has a reputation for going to trial when necessary.

Please contact us at Levow and Associates for a free consultation.

New Jersey DWI breath testing is not reliable and should be challenged by a qualified DWI lawyer.

“So, what you’re telling us is that the world is round, even though we all believe it is flat.” That is essentially what the judge said, who handled the original scientific reliability hearing in State v. Chun. This encapsulates the system’s view of breath testing in New Jersey and the world.

Breath testing has been demonstrated by scientific experts in the field to be up to 100% inaccurate. However, courts across the country have accepted the “forensic science” of breath testing, and have allowed this mechanism to be utilized to wrongly convict people of DWI. Many scholars have written on the subject, and those articles are available for review.

That is what frames the landscape for what the New Jersey Supreme Court did in its September 18, 2013 order, holding that the Alcotest machine used in New Jersey is still generally scientifically reliable. Despite giving conditional approval five years ago regarding the machine, requiring the state to modify the software in the machine to make it reliable, and the state clearly having failed to follow the court order, the New Jersey Supreme Court allowed the state to ignore the required changes, and proceed with the machine of software in its unreliable format.

I have been litigating State v. Chun for over eight years now, in various forms. Ironically, the breath testing in Ms. Chun’s case was dismissed.

The recent decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court ratified the states failure to comply with the five-year-old court order underscores the absolute need for continued aggressive representation of defendants charged with DWI in the New Jersey Court system.

There are many defenses available to DWI defendants in New Jersey. It is critical to have qualified counsel who will thoroughly examine the evidence that the state seeks to use against the citizens accused.

Please contact us at Levow & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your case.

DWI charges can be challenged and won in New Jersey.

I just finished meeting with a NJ DWI client, prepping him for a potential trial. The client said to me that when he chose my law firm, he had spoken with other attorneys trying to decide which law firm was best for him. He wanted to know whether I was going to “show him the beef, and not just the sizzle”. I looked quizzically at him, and asked him what that meant.

He told me that when researching my firm and discussing his options with the other lawyers he was interviewing, one lawyer had the nerve to say that the “high-priced lawyers are all sizzle and no beef”. The lawyer went on to say that he could do the same job that the more expensive lawyers do at half the cost.

During the balance of the prep time, we discussed “the beef”. We discussed how I will defend his case at trial, how I will not back down, and how I will fight for him until the very end. That “sizzle” is the beef. When hiring a lawyer, the client must be certain that that lawyer and law firm will follow through on his or her behalf. In other words, the potential client must make sure that the lawyer and law firm will fight all the way and try a case. You may not end up a trial, but you want to make sure that the lawyer you hire is preparing your case as if it will go to trial. That is the best way to assure that your case is prepped properly and fought fully.

The client also said that he was more than willing to pay 100% more to get the lawyer that will fight all the way, and to get the lawyer with the best qualifications. I told my client that the fee was more than other attorneys for a reason. That reason is that it takes a great deal of effort, time, and knowledge to fully investigate and litigate a DWI case in New Jersey. While my fees are higher than most lawyers in the state, I base my fee on the time, effort and knowledge required to do the best job possible in the given circumstance. I don’t believe that a case can be fully prepared and litigated at less than what I charge.

So, when I walk into court with this client to go to trial in his case, not only will he be getting the sizzle, but he will be getting all of the beef. It is that kind of preparation and reputation that results in positive outcomes in cases for my clients.

When he first mentioned the comment to me, I was irritated that another lawyer would stoop to such negative activity to reign in a potential client. It is actually a slanderous statement made by the other lawyer against me and my law firm. However, it’s really a badge of honor to wear. There is no one in the state of New Jersey that shares my firm’s qualifications. Other lawyers, personnel in the court system, and law-enforcement officers seek out opinions from my law firm on DWI related issues. Unfortunately, there will always be those people out there that are looking to topple the leading law firm.

As a potential client, don’t be confused by someone trying to sell you a lower fee or lesser qualifications. Hire the best lawyer and law firm that you can to fight like hell for you.

Please call us at Levow and Associates for a free consultation.

NJ DWI prosecutions are about to change significantly. Due to litigation in a case that I filed in front of the New Jersey Supreme Court, State v. Chun, the state has acknowledged that the Alcotest test machine is being scrapped in New Jersey.

Five years ago, in March 2008, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered nine software changes to the Alcotest machine in order to make it reliable for use in New Jersey. This was after three years of litigation as to the scientific reliability of the machine. However, in the five years since the Chun decision, the State has implemented none of the required software changes to the machine.

In December 2012, we discovered that the data posted online from machines statewide was incomplete and corrupted. As a result, along with co-counsel, I filed a motion to compel the State to reformat the online information, and to comply with the original Chun order. The State replied to the motion, admitting that the online information was, in fact, incomplete. The State further indicated that it did not and could not comply with the Supreme Court order from 2008. In its responsive brief, the State asks that the Supreme Court absolve it of the requirement to fix the software in the Alcotest. The State announced that the Alcotest was going to be retired by the end of 2016, and that it was seeking a new breath testing instrument by that time. Rather than implement any new software, and to avoid any further challenges to the scientific reliability of the machine, the state asked the Supreme Court to allow it to continue using the Alcotest until it found a new machine by the end of 2016.

We responded to the State’s shocking revelation that it was retiring the machine and seeking absolution from the five-year-old requirements to fix the software by asking the Supreme Court to now declare the Alcotest unsuitable for use in New Jersey, forthwith.

The term “forthwith” was used by the New Jersey Supreme Court in its order of March 2008 requiring the state to make changes to the machine software. Forthwith is defined as immediately.

Argument on the case is scheduled for September 10, 2013.

If you have a been arrested for DWI in New Jersey and would like to discuss your case with us, please call us at Levow & Associates for a free consultation.

In a New Jersey DWI case, the prosecutor must prove the basic elements of the offense. The simplest of those elements is whether the individual arrested actually operated the motor vehicle.

Often, New Jersey DWI arrests are made as a result of tip call, or someone calling into the police department reporting an erratic driver. The caller will sometimes give the license plate number of the vehicle, which can then be traced to the owner’s residence. If the police then locate the car in the driveway of the residence, without that driver in the vehicle, there is a question as to who operated the vehicle. Unless the caller can identify the driver, or if the driver admits to operating the vehicle, the state will have a difficult, if not impossible time, in establishing who operated the vehicle.

Even if operation is established, the state must still prove that the operator drove the vehicle while intoxicated. Depending on how long the vehicle was stationary at the residence, it may be difficult for the state to establish that the driver did not drink alcohol once the motorist arrived at the residence.

Another issue of operation occurs when a police officer comes upon a vehicle on the side of the road or in a parking lot, where the driver is asleep behind the wheel. If the vehicle is on the side of a highway or a road where there are no residences or businesses, an operation defense will not likely be successful. This is because the law presumes that when the vehicle was operated to that location, unless there is evidence to the contrary, it is presumed that the driver was intoxicated while operating. A defense to that situation would be where the driver was drinking after operating the vehicle. This would generally require proof of that, which could include bottles of alcohol present in or around the vehicle at the time of arrest.

If the police officer has contact with the driver of a vehicle in a parking lot of a bar, restaurant, or other business, and that driver has been asleep at that location, there may be a defense to operation if the state cannot show that the driver drove to that location intoxicated, or had the intent to operate the vehicle from that location while intoxicated. For example, if the driver had come out of a bar, and decided to sleep before operating the vehicle, it cannot be determined whether the driver intended to operate the motor vehicle while intoxicated.

There are many issues to defend a New Jersey DWI arrest with. It is critical that you consult with a qualified New Jersey DWI lawyer to determine the best way to handle your defense. Please contact us at Levow & Associates for a free consultation.

As a New Jersey DWI lawyer that only practices DWI law and nothing else, the first question I am often asked is, “What is your fee?” I don’t like that question, because it doesn’t take into account the reality of why a person is searching for a lawyer to defend one of the most serious charges that the person will likely ever face.

My answer is, “It depends on what you mean by ‘affordable’.”

You can spend anywhere from $750 to $7500 in initial fees. Chances are that if you are on a limited budget, say a couple thousand, what you define as affordable, may end up costing you a lot more in the end. For instance, if you hire someone that doesn’t have the knowledge or skill to really fight your case, what are you spending your money on? If you are convicted, as a first offender, you will not only pay the $700 or so in court costs, but there might be an interlock requirement for your car depending on your breath reading, which will cost you more than $1000.00; you will be surcharged by the State $3000, and your insurance company will separately surcharge you anywhere from $3000 to $10,000 or more over three years.

If you hire someone who has the knowledge, ability and fortitude to really fight for you, and if you are successful, you can save suspension time, get rid of the interlock, or even get rid of the DWI charge. Then again, you might lose, and you certainly will have spent more on a lawyer who knows his/her stuff than someone who may just be planning to hold your hand, walk in with you and hope for the best. There are no guarantees. However, you want to make sure you hire the best lawyer you can to obtain the best result possible.

Evan M Levow.JPGAs a New Jersey DWI lawyer who vigorously fights for my clients, I am honored to have been selected to Best Lawyers in America® for the fifth consecutive year. Today, I received the following email from Steve Naifeh, President of Best Lawyers:

“Congratulations on having been selected by your peers for inclusion in the 2012 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in the practice area of DUI/DWI Defense. For nearly three decades, Best Lawyers has been regarded – by both the profession and the public – as the definitive guide to legal excellence in the United States.

“Selection to Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey (comprising more than 3.9 million confidential evaluations by your fellow top attorneys) and because no fee or purchase is required to be listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers is rightly considered a singular honor. Our annual, advertisement-free publication has been described by The American Lawyer as “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”

“The Best Lawyers in America also reaches the largest and most targeted audience of any peer-review listing in the legal profession. Best Lawyers lists appear regularly in Corporate Counsel magazine, which reaches more than 88,000 general counsel. Excerpts from our lists also appear in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, New York magazine, and more than 85 other regional and city magazines around the world, reaching more than 17 million influential readers.

“As you may know, Best Lawyers collaborated this year with U.S.News & World Report, the leading rankings publication in the U.S., to rank U.S. law firms. As a result, the Best Lawyers search engine now also appears on USNews.com, which has 7 million unique visitors each month.

“Again, congratulations on being selected by your peers to be included in Best Lawyers.”

I appreciate the honor mostly because it is a peer reviewed selection. I am grateful and humbled that my colleagues, adversaries and other DWI lawyers have chosen me to be part of the select list.

Thank you.

The most important case in New Jersey DWI history is State v. Chun, decided in 2008, which set the standards for DWI defense and prosecution for breath testing cases statewide. Despite significant evidence to the contrary, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Chun determined that the new Draeger Alcotest 7110 MKIII-C breath testing machine was scientifically reliable.

In Chun, the reliability of the machine was based on the safeguards of the testing procedure, one of which was an apparatus known as an Ertco-Hart Digital Thermometer. This thermometer insures that the temperature of the various simulator solutions used for calibration of the Alcotest during the control and linearity testing are at the required 34.0 degrees Celsius, with a tolerance of plus or minus 0.2 degrees.

These Ertco-Hart digital thermometers were calibrated by Draeger, which also supplied a NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Certificate of Traceability with each calibration. Draeger, however, decided it would no longer produce the certificates of calibration, and the Ertco-Hart digital thermometer used by the State is no longer manufactured. As a result, the required calibration had to be done with a different digital thermometer.

A digital thermometer from Control Company was chosen based on criteria set by the director of the Office of Forensic Sciences.

Because this thermometer from Control Company was different from the Ertco-Hart thermometer, and because the Alcotest was found to be scientifically reliable with the Ertco-Hart digital thermometer as one of it’s calibrating components, defendants across New Jersey began challenging the results from the Alcotest based on this change of components.

A case called State v. Holland addresses these issues, and was recently decided by the Law Division in Monmouth County on August 24, 2011. The opinion from the Law Division will be used by the Appellate Division to establish the final ruling on the use of the Control Company digital thermometer in place of the Ertco-Hart unit. The Law Division determined “that the Ertco-Hart and Control Company digital thermometers are comparable in all material respects and identical in the performance of the singular function required.” Both thermometers “accurately read and report the temperatures of the simulator solutions during the Alcotest calibration process.”

The Control Company certificate, in comparison to the Ertco-Hart certificate, does not have any “facial irregularity”, as claimed. The Law Division found that it actually provides more information than the Ertco-Hart certificate provided by Draeger. The court found nothing to prevent it from being accepted as a proper foundational document regarding calibration of the digital thermometer as required by the Supreme Court in Chun.

It is safe to say that the Law Division’s opinion ratifying the use of the Control Company digital thermometer will form the basis for the Appellate Division’s ratification of the unit, thereby allowing Control Company’s digital thermometer to be used for calibration of the Alcotest on a state-wide basis. The opinion from the Appellate Division will likely be rendered “forthwith”.

This issue is but one of many that must be addressed in the context of assessing defenses to a specific charge of DWI in New Jersey. It is critical to seek the assistance of a qualified New Jersey DWI lawyer, who can determine how best to proceed in your case. DWI charges in New Jersey can be successfully challenged.

A New Jersey DWI stop, arrest or conviction for an an illegal immigrant involves special and significant concerns. The immigrant has no driver’s license or other documents to establish the privilege to drive or to be in this country, and the arrest and conviction may result in his or her deportation.

According to an article in USA Today, published at http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-07-22-criminal-immigrants_n.htm, drunk driving arrests or convictions are resulting in an increasing number of deportations. Until recently, this was not as big of an issue for New Jersey DWI arrests, as a New Jersey DWI is considered a traffic offense and not a criminal offense. New Jersey is one of only two states to categorize DWI as a traffic offense.

However, depending on how Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) views the arrest, conviction and circumstances of the New Jersey DWI arrest, even a New Jersey DWI arrest or conviction could form part or all of the reasoning for ICE to commence deportation procedures. It is therefore extremely important to hire a qualified New Jersey DWI attorney to review your case and fight the charges against you. You should also consult with immigration counsel to determine the possibility or likelihood of deportation.

If the New Jersey DWI involves an accident or particularly a fatality, the likelihood of ICE intervention increases dramatically, and is almost a certainty. If a felony level conviction results from the DWI based assault by auto, that conviction will affect immigration status if it comes to the attention of ICE.

According to the USA Today article, the U.S. deported nearly 393,000 people last year. Of those, 27,635 had been arrested for drunken driving. An additional 13,028 were deported last year after being arrested on less serious traffic law violations. Most of the immigrants deported last year had committed drug-related crimes. They totaled 45,003. Drunken driving was third in the number of offenses last year.

ICE attempts to categorize each deported immigrant in its statistics based on the worst crime in the person’s record. ICE says the statistics involve only people who have been convicted of a crime. This may be the loop hole that will not cause a New Jersey DWI conviction to result in deportation, since the record of a New Jersey DWI conviction is not reported as a crime. A New Jersey DWI conviction does not appear on an individuals criminal record as reported by the NCIC – National Crime Information Center.

In such a serious situation, it is best to challenge the evidence against you in the most appropriately aggressive way possible. Consult with an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney to evaluate the specific circumstances of your case.