Pulled Over For Suspected Drunk Driving in New Jersey?

Advice to Consider

Often the question is posed to our New Jersey DWI lawyers, “What should I do to protect myself if pulled over and I have been moderately drinking?” Many times people are afraid to submit to a breath test or even admit that they were drinking to the police officer. Often, people are afraid to admit that they had been drinking even though they only had one alcoholic beverage and are confident they are under the New Jersey legal limit blood alcohol concentration of .08%.

If you have been stopped by a police officer, keep your hands at a place so that the police officer can easily see them. A good spot is to rest them on the top of your steering wheel. If the police officer asks for your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance then you must comply and provide them. A police officer is also lawfully allowed to ask that you and any passengers exit the vehicle. They also may separate the passengers and driver from each other and question them separately. If asked to exit the vehicle, a reasonable method of protecting your Constitutional rights is to lock your car doors immediately after exiting.

Police Questioning

Also be on guard for police officers using double-barreled questions. A double-barreled question occurs when someone asks a question that touches upon more than one issue, yet allows only for one answer. This may result in inaccuracies in the attitudes being measured for the question, as the respondent can answer only one of the two questions. A classic example of a double-barreled question used by police officers is, “You don’t mind if I search your car do you?” A respondent is left uncertain as to what the police officer is asking of them because it seems like two questions are being asked. Clearly, the officer is asking for your legal consent to search the car. But the phrasing of the questions leads one to be unsure of whether they are answering “yes, I mind” or “yes, you may search.” Therefore, the best method for handling this or any similar questions is to clearly state, “I do not consent to any unlawful searches.”

Police may search your car if they have a warrant, you give them consent, or they have probable cause to believe that criminal activity is likely taking place, that you have been involved in a crime, or that you have evidence of a crime in your car. A police officer may not use your lack of consent as a basis for conducting a search.

Silence May Constitute a Refusal

When dealing with police officers, we urge you to always be respectful and never under any circumstances physically interfere with a police officer’s search, even if you believe it to be unlawful. Also, know that other than providing your name and related information you need not answer any questions asked by a police officer. This is known as your right to remain silent and is protected by the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It generally applies to most police encounters except for when someone is asked to submit to a Breath Test. If you are silent or provide any answer that is not a clear, unambiguous assent to the test, you may be charged with “refusal”. A refusal carries penalties similar to those of drunk driving in New Jersey but with a few harsher aspects.

Call an Experienced DWI Lawyer Today!

If you have been charged with a DWI or DUI you need to call an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. Partner, Carmine R. Villani, Esq. has a wealth of experience in New Jersey criminal defense having served as municipal prosecutor and municipal public defender in numerous municipalities in Ocean County and Monmouth County throughout his 20+ year legal career. Contact the experienced NJ criminal defense attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. for a free initial consultation. Call 732-965-3350 today!