Interviewer: That’s the number one reason the police give for stopping drivers?
Lauren Scardella: Yes, failing to maintain a lane and speeding are probably the number one and number two reasons that people get stopped in DWI cases.
Most Drivers Feel They Are Not Intoxicated because They Had Consumed Only a Few Drinks When They Were Stopped by the Police
Interviewer: Are people surprised that they’ve been arrested for DUI? Do they perceive that they’ve only had a few drinks? Or do they say, “You know, I had it coming?
Lauren Scardella: The vast majority of people do seem to perceive that they’ve only had a few drinks. They are under the impression they weren’t drunk and that they were really okay to drive.
Most people will also say that they couldn’t pass the field sobriety test even when they’re sober. Although maybe that is a telling comment because they say even when they’re sober, when they’re also saying they didn’t think that they were drunk, or too drunk to drive.
Chemical Tests: New Jersey Prefers to Administer Breath Tests to Test for Blood Alcohol Levels
Interviewer: Does New Jersey favor breath testing or blood testing? What do you see that most people do now?
Lauren Scardella: New Jersey is a breath testing state. Blood tests are only used in the case of car accidents or some other medical condition that becomes known to the police. If there isn’t an accident where the defendant has to be taken to the hospital, then a breath test is given. I would say blood tests represent a very small percentage of cases that we see.
Are Most Motorists Tested Close to Or over the Legal Limit of .08?
Interviewer: In the cases that you see do a lot of the breath tests results come in close to .08? Or are a lot of people truly drunk and they come in a lot higher?
Lauren Scardella: The majority of the people that we see have a BAC of .10% or higher. The majority of people are not just at the borderline. To me, this says that there is a disconnect in a person’s mind about how much alcohol ingestion it takes to get them to .08.
Interviewer: Out of curiosity, what’s the highest BAC you’ve ever represented someone on?
Lauren Scardella: A .49. It was interesting. There wasn’t actually an AIR, which is what New Jersey calls the Alcohol Influence Report, where the breath test was reported. Somehow, the police department lost it along with the other discovery; but it took several years to resolve the case because there was a bench warrant because the client had failed to appear.