Instead of a dry, boring article, the following is an excerpt from a recent interview
with Attorney Leckerman on the subject.
Interviewer: What charges commonly go along with the DWI charge in New Jersey? Are there any additional charges along with the DWI?
A Careless or Reckless Driving Charge
Leckerman: Usually, police departments mandate that an officer tack on a careless driving or reckless driving charge to any DWI, even if it’s not justified. In my experience, most of these departments believe that if there’s any alcohol in the driver’s system that somehow it means the driver is being careless or reckless. That’s simply not the case, according to the law, but, nonetheless, I see that charge routinely added.
Even in matters where the driver is stopped in a parking lot and sleeping in his car, I’ll see an officer tack on a reckless driving charge to the DWI charge. Of course, the reckless driving charge isn’t justified and eventually goes away, but it’s there.
Another reason for putting on a reckless or careless driving charge is for an officer to set himself up to negotiate a case. If the DWI can’t be sustained, then at least there is a reckless driving or careless driving charge that the police can fall back on in negotiating.
If the driver is only charged with DWI and that falls through, then the driver walks away scott-free, because there is a statute of limitations for issuing any motor vehicle citation.
A Failure to Maintain Lane Charge
Interviewer: Are there any other charges you encounter?
Leckerman: Usually, I will see what is known as “a failure to maintain lane” charge. This is a charge under NJSA 39:4–88B. This charge comes into play when a driver allegedly fails to stay within the lane. The driver may be touching the fog line or going into the shoulder or maybe going into the opposite lane of travel. The officer uses that as justification to stop the motor vehicle. That’s probably the biggest legitimate citation that I will see that comes along with DWI charges.