The New Jersey DWI attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have successfully defended clients charged with drunk driving by demonstrating that the traffic stops leading to the charges were illegal. If you have been charged with DUI or DWI, do not automatically plead guilty—contact us to arrange a free consultation with a lawyer.
Was There Reasonable Cause to Stop You for DUI?
Before a police officer or highway patrol officer can stop you or arrest you for DUI/DWI, the officer must have probable cause. Probable cause is reason to believe that a crime (driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated) was committed, and that you committed the crime.
In fact, our attorneys have observed that officers have stopped a car because the license plates showed the car’s owner had a history of previous violations. That prejudice, like racial profiling, is insufficient cause to stop or arrest a driver.
If there was probable cause for a traffic stop such as an equipment violation, swerving across lanes, speeding, or running a red light, and the officer sees evidence that you are intoxicated you may be asked to take a blood alcohol test. A blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or more can provide enough evidence to place you under arrest.
There is significant case law in New Jersey concerning proper traffic stops leading to drinking and driving charges. First, under State v. Carpentieri, 82 N.J. 546 (1980), the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the police must have an articulable and reasonable suspicion that a violation of the traffic laws has occurred in order to effectuate a stop for DWI. Next, in State v. Pegeese 351 N.J. Super 25 (2002), the court held that the police may not detain an occupant for consent search absent violation or criminal conduct once evidence of proper licensing, registration and the like is supplied. Finally, in State v. Pitcher 379 N.J. Super 308 (2005), the court decided that a stop based on an officer’s mistaken understanding of a fact, e.g., that the driver had a suspended license, will not be invalidated provided the officer’s actions were supported by a “reasonable” belief that the related facts were accurate. The court held that the officer’s traffic stop, conducted in reliance on erroneous information in the DMV database that showed that the defendant had a suspended license, was reasonable.
Every situation is unique, and there are a number of defenses to DUI charges. If you would like to speak with one of our lawyers about the circumstances surrounding your arrest, please call toll free 877-450-8301 to arrange a free consultation with a lawyer.