New Jersey DWI Lawyer Discusses When You Can Get a New Trial in Your Drunk Driving Case

Man Being Pulled Over by the Police

The criminal justice system in New Jersey and in the United States is used to decide when defendants are guilty or innocent of crimes that they are charged with, but guilt and innocence is not the only thing the court is concerned with. Society wins not only when the guilty are convicted but when criminal trials are fair. For that reason, if you or someone you know is found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol of drugs, you may be entitled to a new trial if your attorney can show that the case brought against you was improper or unfair.

In Brady v. Maryland, the United States Supreme Court held that when a prosecutor withholds exculpatory evidence, which is evidence that could possibly be used to show that a defendant was not guilty or could be used to lessen a defendant’s sentence, the court may be required to take corrective measures. The New Jersey Supreme and Appellate Courts have applied Brady for the benefit of New Jersey defendants charged with DWI / DUI in numerous cases, most recently citing the rule in State v. Stein.

In Stein, the New Jersey Supreme Court actually noted that New Jersey law is even more expansive because New Jersey Court Rule 7:7-7 requires more discovery be provided to the defendant than in Brady. Under the rule, state prosecutors must release all evidence or information that is relevant to a legitimate defense. In order to establish a Brady violation in drunk driving cases, the defendant must prove the following three facts:

  • The prosecution failed to provide evidence to the defense in violation of Rule 7:7-7;
  • The evidence would have been something that is good for or benefits the defendant;
  • The evidence is material, meaning the defendant can show that there is a good chance the defendant could have used the evidence to change the result of the trial or of a plea agreement.

Exculpatory evidence may include more than just things that directly relate to the case, it can also include evidence that has to do with the credibility of a witness, meaning evidence that makes a witness more or less believable. A failure by the State to provide exculpatory evidence to the defense can be considered a denial of due process and entitle a defendant to a new trial.

If a defendant requests a new trial based on a Brady violation, the court does not look at just one piece of evidence to determine if that would have affected the trial. Instead, the court will look at all of the evidence that was suppressed, and the court will decide if the decision to plead guilty or the results of the trial would have been different if the defendant had the chance to present the evidence.

When it comes to drunk driving charges, a Brady violation usually has to do with evidence that may affect a defendant’s blood alcohol level or may be used to exclude the blood alcohol test results. For example, if the state fails to provide evidence that the breathalyzer machine used on the defendant was improperly maintained or was likely to produce inaccurate readings, this can result in a new trial. Similarly, suppressed video evidence may form the basis of a Brady violation.

Importantly, in New Jersey, you lose this right if you forget to ask for the evidence or fail to object when you do not receive that evidence. For instance, in Stein, the Court held that the defendant may have been entitled to the names of certain witnesses that were used against him, but he forgot to object and lost his chance to request a new trial based on the government’s failure. For that reason, it is important to get an experienced drunk driving attorney in any situation where you or someone you know is charged with DUI / DWI. An experienced DUI attorney will know what evidence to ask for from the state and will be best suited to present the best defense possible or have the charges against you dropped completely.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can help if You Deserve a New Trial in a DUI or DWI Case

A DUI or DWI charge for operating a motor vehicle will involve many complicated evidential issues. Such a charge can also result in severe penalties that affect you and your loved ones. If you are charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance in New Jersey, an experienced DWI / DUI attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the State of New Jersey.