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Facts that may surprise you regarding field sobriety tests

It's dark outside, and you are on your way home from a fun evening out with friends. It is raining, so there is a slight glare on the road, and your visibility isn't all that great. When a New Jersey police officer pulls you over and says that your tires were veering onto the yellow line, you weren't all that surprised since the road conditions were less than optimal at the time. You figured you would explain that and, perhaps, the officer would issue a warning, then send you on your way.

That's not what happened. Instead, the New Jersey law enforcement officer asked you to step out of your vehicle -- a potential sign that you are under suspicion for drunk driving. The next request was for you to take a field sobriety test. You had enjoyed a drink or two with your friends, so you were immediately nervous about that idea. There are several facts about field sobriety tests that you may not know, which can greatly affect a situation like yours, either positively or in a very negative way. 

The consequences of points on your driving record

You are not alone if you sometimes feel the rules of the road are frustrating. Waiting at a traffic light when no other cars are on the road or staying under the speed limit when you are in a hurry can tempt you to take matters into your own hands. However, ignoring the traffic laws can result in stiff consequences, including losing your privileges to drive, and you may present a danger to other drivers.

Traffic tickets can cover dozens of infractions. You may not think much about it when the officer asks for your signature and hands you a ticket for speeding, making an illegal turn or running a red light. You will probably have a court date and a fine. However, look closer at the ticket and you will see that the officer may have assessed points on your license.

How Will The New Expungement Law Help Me?

Good news for anyone who wants to clear their criminal record! New Jersey's new expungement law - that goes into effect TODAY, October 1, 2018 - helps more people, get more cases off of their criminal record. And sooner.

Fighting charges of domestic violence

If your separation, divorce or custody battle is growing more volatile, you may wake up each morning wondering what new frustration you will be dealing with. Your former partner has dug in, and you are also unwilling to compromise. Perhaps it has always been this way between you, or maybe some event raised the level of tension. In any case, you may not realize how quickly things can turn against you.

With one sentence, your former partner can change the course of your life, leaving you floundering on the defensive and watching everything you have worked for slip away. That one sentence is an accusation of domestic violence. In many cases, if someone accuses a person of domestic violence, New Jersey police have no choice but to make an arrest. If this happens to you, your troubles may be just beginning.

Marijuana possession is still illegal in New Jersey

There are probably few laws that vary as widely from state to state as those regarding the use of marijuana. One state may forbid both medical and recreational marijuana while its neighboring states may have much more lax laws regarding both. Federal law still considers possession of the drug a crime, even for medicinal purposes.

Whether you advocate for the recreational use of marijuana or you have found medical benefits from its use, it is important to know the risks you take if you violate the law. Even though laws governing marijuana may be less severe than those governing other controlled substances, you may still face harsh penalties for illegal possession.

Facing life problems because of prescription drugs?

You may be one of countless others in New Jersey as well as other states who is currently taking prescription medication. Doctors in all states often write orders for prescription drugs to treat a myriad of conditions, including some that are chronic and others with acute onsets due to particular incidents. Such drugs are often beneficial for alleviating pain, filling a body with antibiotics to fight infection or helping those who suffer from anxiety.  

The drugs doctors most commonly prescribe often include potentially dangerous side effects. Some are also highly addictive. If you or your family member are suffering from a substance abuse problem related to prescription drugs, you'll want to know that there are many support options available to help you beat addiction. If a particular drug situation has landed you in trouble with the law, there are also support resources to guide you through that process as well. Taking advantage of the help that's available may be a key to your success. 

Criminal convictions and your immigration status

If you are in New Jersey on a U.S. visa or green card, you probably went through a long, frustrating process to obtain that privilege. Perhaps you are here for employment, or a family member sponsored your application for permanent residency. Whatever your situation, you may have plans for the future that involve remaining in the U.S. or returning at some time in the future after your visa expires.

To ensure those opportunities are not lost, you will want to avoid any behavior that could jeopardize your status in this country. Among the most common reasons why a visa holder or permanent resident may face deportation is a conviction for a criminal offense. However, it is important to understand that the law holds green card and visa holders to a different standard from what is expected of U.S. citizens.

Field sobriety test results: often your word against an officer's

If a New Jersey police officer thinks you are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, you may have your work cut out for you to avoid conviction if he or she places you under arrest and prosecutors file formal charges against you.

Remember that even if you did consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel, it doesn't necessarily mean you were breaking the law when you later got into your car to drive. DUI situations often arise based on a police officer's personal assessment of a situation. For instance, an officer who says your car was veering too far left of center in your lane may (sometimes mistakenly) conclude you were intoxicated.

Your rights under the new bail laws

It's been just over a year since New Jersey Bail Reform and Speed Trial Act took effect, and several other states are following New Jersey's lead in eliminating bail for those accused of certain crimes. While you may never expect to be arrested, having an understanding of the process may prove helpful in the event that you or a loved one has a run-in with the law.

Before the passing of the bail reform law, it was not unusual for someone to spend close to a year behind bars just waiting for trial. In fact, one study showed that over 50 percent of those in the county jails across the country have not been convicted of any crime but are simply waiting for their trial. They remain in jail because they can't afford to post bail.

Has your child been charged with a crime?

You undoubtedly love your child more than anything in this world. As he or she has grown before your eyes, you have certainly witnessed many great achievements as well as many mistakes that he or she has made. Successes and mishaps are a part of growing up, and no one is perfect. Though some lapses in judgment may have little impact on your child's life, some issues could create substantial problems.

If your child finds him or herself in a major predicament, law enforcement could feel the need to get involved. As a result, the apple of your eye could end up facing criminal charges, even though he or she is still a minor. Because of the seriousness of this type of situation, you may have many questions regarding your juvenile's case.

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