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Defenses to Signs of Intoxication in a New Jersey DWI Stop

After establishing reasonable articulable suspicion to pull a driver over, police must identify certain signs of intoxication in order to begin a DWI investigation and ultimately arrest someone.

Some of the common “clues” of intoxication include:

  • Watery, bloodshot eyes
  • A driver fumbling to get his or her license and registration
  • Slurred speech
  • Odor of alcohol

The problem with each of these is that they can be caused by something other than intoxication. Your eyes might be watery because of allergies. Perhaps you had trouble getting your license and registration because you were nervous. And how would an officer know that your speech was slurred if he or she never heard you speak before?

The odor of alcohol is one of the most often cited reasons police list for making a DWI arrest. However, that smell can linger for hours after you consume alcohol.

Defending Against Subjective Evidence

To say that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to determining intoxication would be wrong. Alcohol does not affect any two people in the same way. What’s more, the signs of intoxication that police are looking for are often subjective.

Your defense attorney should work to determine if there are any explanations for what you allegedly did: your driving conduct, performance on the field sobriety tests, and your general demeanor.