Examination of Arresting Officer

Prosecutors in New Jersey drunk driving cases typically begin their cases by calling the police officer who arrested the driver for DWI. The officer usually describes in his or her testimony the accused motorist’s driving patterns prior to the traffic stop. The officer may testify that the motorist was exhibiting signs of impaired driving, such as traveling too slowly or weaving between lanes.

The arresting officer will then describe the traffic stop itself. The officer will testify about how the driver responded to the request to pull over, and the initial observations the officer made when he or she first spoke to the driver. The officer may describe encountering a driver who smelled of alcohol, had red, watery eyes, slurred speech, or other signs and symptoms of intoxication.

If the driver took a field sobriety test, the officer will describe the motorist’s performance. The officer’s testimony will typically include only things that the driver did poorly, and leave out anything the driver did well. However, skilled New Jersey DWI / DUI defense lawyer will use an effective cross-examination to bring out aspects of the test on which the driver performed well.

The testimony will then turn to the driver’s chemical test results. The officer will describe the type of test taken and the chain of custody of any sample taken –blood or urine, because breath samples cannot be retained. If the driver submitted to a breath test, the officer will testify about what the chemical test revealed about the driver’s blood alcohol level (BAC).

Once the prosecutor has finished questioning the arresting officer, the defense lawyer can begin cross-examination. An attorney skilled in NJ DWI defense will use cross-examination of the arresting officer as an opportunity to demonstrate the problems and issues in the prosecutor’s case.

Cross-examination in a driving under the influence case is really an opportunity for the defense attorney to describe what happened on the day or night of the arrest. A skilled DWI defense lawyer will ask questions in a way that forces the officer to give yes or no answers. This cross-examination technique allows the defense attorney to state what he or she wants the judge to hear.

A skilled New Jersey DWI defense attorney will use cross-examination of the arresting officer to highlight aspects of the traffic stop and arrest that demonstrate that the driver was not impaired. For example, the officer might testify about how the driver weaved between lanes, but will neglect to mention that the driver signaled when pulling over.

Police always make a point of testifying about incriminating details such as red, watery eyes and slurred speech, but don’t usually voluntarily describe aspects of the stop and arrest that show that the driver acted in a way that was consistent with a sober person’s behavior. During cross-examination, the defense attorney can establish positive information to support the defense and discredit the state’s case..

Cross-examination of the arresting officer in a New Jersey DWI / DUI case is a critical aspect of a successful defense. It’s imperative to have a skilled driving under the influence defense attorney experienced in drunk driving cases to aggressively cross-examine the arresting officer to bring out details that create reasonable doubt in the driver’s guilt.

The New Jersey DWI lawyers at Levow DWI Law have attended national seminars on cross-examination issues so that we are prepared to aggressively challenge the state’s witnesses. Please call us at 877-593-1717, or email us at evanlevow@newjerseydwilawyer.com to discuss your case.