Restrictions on Defenses

Many times clients ask us about possible defenses to charges for drinking and driving in New Jersey. A defense of extreme sensitivity to alcohol is not a defense to DWI charges in New Jersey under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. “Hypersensitivity to the effects of alcohol does not constitute a defense to a charge of drunk driving.” State v. Cryan, 363 N.J. Super 442 (2003). Contributing factors of medication or physical or nervous conditions rendering defendant more susceptible to alcohol are not defenses if such factors caused or contributed to impairment of defendant’s faculties. State v. Corrado, 184 N.J. Super 561 (1982). Also, the disease of alcoholism is not a defense to prosecution for drunk driving. State v. Housman, 131 N.J. Super 478 (1974). Finally, the insanity defense is also not available in New Jersey DWI cases as a viable defense. “As with voluntary intoxication, entrapment, and duress, the insanity defense has a high potential for serving as an instrument of pretext.” State v. Inglis, 304 N.J. Super 207 (1997). Allowing a defendant prosecuted under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a) to assert the common law insanity defense would be contrary to the legislative policy embodied in the statute against permitting defenses based upon a mere pretext. Accordingly, the use of the insanity defense, under both the common law and the Code of Criminal Justice, is not permitted in a DWI case. Id.

These above defenses, therefore, are not available in defending against drunk driving charges in New Jersey.