This week, our office successfully represented an individual who was charged with Driving While Intoxicated after allegedly consuming alcohol and had also given an incriminating statement regarding his consumption of prescription Ambien prior to driving. Interestingly, our client believed that he had gone to bed and in fact had no recollection of getting dressed and driving his car. He was pulled over by local police officers for reckless driving and failure to maintain lanes. Upon smelling the odor of alcohol on our client’s breath, the officers arrested him, brought him back to the police station and administered the Alcotest 7110. While substantial, his BAC did not meet the per se intoxication level of .08%. Pursuant to New Jersey law, however, a defendant’s BAC need not hit 0.08% in order to be convicted of Driving While Intoxicated. This is because officer observation as to intoxication can suffice as proof of intoxication. Additionally, our client’s incriminating statements as to his consumption of alcohol and Ambien provide the State with ample proof of intoxication by way of a drug and alcohol “cocktail”. In his defense, our office raised various arguments before the State. These included; 1) the defendant’s low BAC%; 2) a growing number of cases involving “sleep driving” by Ambien consumers which hold that there was no actual intent to drive and, therefore, no actual operation; and 3) the State’s failure to produce a report by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to determine that our client was under the influence of any prescription drugs at the time of the arrest. As a result, the DWI was dismissed.
State v. I.T.