What Happens if You Are Stopped and Arrested for a DWI in New Jersey?
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a common charge in New Jersey. When the police pull someone over for a DWI, specific protocols and procedures must be followed, and an attorney can help you determine if any rules or laws were broken.
Vehicle stops related to possible DWIs are somewhat unpredictable. While DWI stops involve unique circumstances, each one might likely involve being briefly detained, field sobriety tests, and a possible arrest. Chemical testing via breath tests is usually performed at the police station after arrest, although roadside tests are also possible. Refusal to submit to chemical testing might lead to additional charges and penalties. If your DWI stop involved an accident, you might face even more criminal charges. An attorney can help you challenge the evidence against you, particularly your BAC results. Prosecutors rely on these results to press DWI charges, and if they are excluded from trial, their whole case might fall apart.
Schedule an evaluation of your case for no charge with our Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates by calling (609) 257-4019.
What Happens at a DWI Stop in New Jersey?
Although it feels as if the police are working against you (they are), they must adhere to very specific rules and procedures that protect your rights and ensure everyone’s safety. If we suspect these protocols were not followed, our DWI defense lawyers can help you fight your DWI charges and hopefully get the case dropped or dismissed.
During DWI stops, and any other traffic stops for that matter, the police can only hold you for a brief time. Exactly how long the police can hold you varies, but it is generally held that a person may be detained for as long as reasonably necessary.
Many cases have been argued over how long is too long when being detained during a traffic stop. The rule about being held as long as “reasonably necessary” is vague, to say the lease. Generally, the police may detain you as long as they have probable cause for the stop and reasonable suspicion to continue investigating. However, the police cannot detain you for an overly long time in the hopes of drumming up enough probable cause to execute an arrest.
If it becomes clear there is no reason for the police to hold you any longer, they should let you go. If they do not, tell your attorney immediately.
Field Sobriety Tests
The police often pull over drivers for traffic violations unrelated to the DWI, like speeding or having a broken taillight. However, if the officer reasonably suspects a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may investigate further. One method the police employ to determine if drivers are under the influence is field sobriety tests.
Field sobriety tests are often performed along the road where the traffic stop occurs. They tend to include small physical tests that would be easy for a sober person to complete but difficult for someone inebriated. Standing on one leg, walking in a straight line, and horizontal gaze nystagmus tests are common.
While the police can use these tests to establish sufficient probable cause to arrest you, they cannot usually be used in court as evidence. Also, field sobriety tests are not mandatory, and you can refuse to take them.
Remember, the police should only arrest you if they have enough probable cause to justify their actions. Unfortunately, the police frequently arrest people without sufficient probable cause, and prosecutors will try to charge them anyway.
Probable cause is not easily defined, but it must be based on actual evidence or proof. The police cannot arrest someone based on a gut instinct or hunch that something is wrong. If you were arrested and believe there was no evidence that police could use to establish probable cause, speak to a lawyer immediately.
When Do I Take a Breathalyzer Test After Being Stopped and Arrested for a DWI in New Jersey?
Exactly when you might encounter a breath test depends on your situation. A breath test often occurs after a driver is arrested for a DWI, but roadside breath tests are also possible. There are two important differences between roadside and post-arrest breath testing for DWI.
First, breath testing done after an arrest is often performed with more advanced machines, and the results are more accurate and admissible in court. Meanwhile, roadside testing is done with smaller, portable devices, and the results are typically not used in court but are instead used to establish probable cause.
Second, post-arrest breath testing is mandatory for all drivers, while roadside breath testing is not. New Jersey’s implied consent laws mean that all drivers on the road have legally consented to chemical testing simply by operating a vehicle on public roads. However, this only applies to post-arrest chemical tests, not roadside portable breath tests.
How to Challenge Your DWI Charges in New Jersey
We can begin building your defense at the actual stop. If you were detained for far too long with little to no justification, we can argue that the police had no probable cause to arrest you
We can also challenge the results of breath testing. As mentioned before, BAC measurements from chemical testing are perhaps the most important evidence in the prosecutor’s case against you. The devices used for post-arrest breath testing are sometimes old, uncalibrated, or in disrepair. In such cases, we can argue that the BAC results cannot be trusted.
If proper protocols were not followed, we might be able to exclude your BAC results, and the prosecutor’s case might be significantly hindered or even fall apart completely. One of the many rules the police must follow is that while chemical testing is required, it cannot be forced. If the police physically forced you to submit to testing, we can ask the court to exclude that evidence from your trial.
Call Our DWI Defense Attorneys for Help Now
Schedule an assessment of your case at no cost with our Harrisburg DUI defense lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates by calling (609) 257-4019.