The Bill of Rights and New Jersey law protect various rights of drivers suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI). Knowing your rights may help you make informed decisions about what to do — and what not to do — if the police pull you over. Violations of your legal or constitutional rights by police could give you defenses that you can raise in court. The following is an overview of your rights during a New Jersey DWI investigation.
The Right to Freedom from “Unreasonable Searches and Seizures”
The Fourth Amendment prohibits police from searching a person or their property, seizing property, or detaining a person without a warrant issued by a court. Many exceptions to this rule exist, but police must demonstrate that an exception applies.
Police Must Have Reasonable Suspicion to Stop Your Vehicle
When a police officer pulls your car over on the road, they must be able to show that they had a reasonable basis for suspecting a traffic violation or other offense, such as if they witnessed you running a stop sign or driving erratically.
Police Must Have Probable Cause to Arrest You
Once a police officer has stopped your vehicle, they cannot hold you any longer than is necessary. If they saw you run a red light, all they can do is write you a ticket if they have no basis for suspecting anything else.
The Right to Leave if the Police Are Not Arresting You
If the officer has no probable cause for arresting you, they must let you go. Be careful with asserting this right, though, such as by asking “Am I free to leave?”
The Right to Remain Silent
The Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination. You have the right not to answer the police officer’s questions after they pull you over.
The Right to Have an Attorney Present
You have the right to speak with an attorney under the Sixth Amendment. You must clearly state that you will not answer any questions or perform any field sobriety tests (FSTs) until you have spoken with an attorney.
Rights Regarding Field Sobriety Tests
A police officer may ask you to perform certain FSTs after they stop your vehicle on the road.
Refusing Field Sobriety Tests
You do not have to consent to FSTs when asked by an officer.
Receiving Clear Explanations of the Field Sobriety Tests
If you do consent to the FSTs, you have the right to a clear explanation of how you are supposed to perform each test.
Rights Regarding Chemical Testing
Your rights regarding chemical testing, which police use to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC), are more complicated.
Blood and Urine Testing
You do not have to consent to the collection of blood or urine for chemical testing if the police do not have a search warrant that allows them to collect samples.
The Right to Have Your Rights Read to You
If the police decide to place you under arrest, you have the right to have them read a list of rights to you, known as your Miranda rights.
DWI attorney Evan Levow represents New Jersey drivers who are facing charges of alleged DWI in New Jersey municipal courts. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to see how we can assist you, please contact us today online or at (877) 593-1717.