In New Jersey, it is a serious criminal violation to operate a vehicle while intoxicated.
Under New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), you can receive a DUI if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 or higher or if any substance is impairing you.
If you were arrested for intoxicated driving, you need to know how to protect your rights.
Below, our New Jersey DWI defense attorney highlights the most important things that you need to know.
Driving While Intoxicated in New Jersey: Four Steps to Protect Your Rights
1. Pull Over, Be Polite
Seeing those flashing blue lights in your rear-view mirror is stressful. As soon as you recognize the police cruiser, you need to pull over as soon as you can. When the officer approaches your window, be polite.
When asked, hand them your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance information. If a law enforcement officer suspects you of drunk driving, the last thing you want to do is add more problems. At this point in the process, the less you say and do, the better.
2. Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
While you should be polite, please know that you do not have to answer any questions asked by the police. If a police officer pulls you over, you are a suspect. Even if you did nothing wrong, it is in your best interests to be careful.
Under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, when questions about drugs or alcohol are being asked at a traffic stop, exercise this right. You are not going to talk your way out of a DUI arrest; you might talk yourself into even more trouble. In fact, people talk themselves into DUI arrests and convictions on a regular basis. Remember, any statements that you make could be taken out of context or used against you in a criminal trial.
3. Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
Every driver in New Jersey should have a basic understanding of their rights and responsibilities for DUI stops.
To start, you should be aware of the fact that New Jersey has an ‘implied consent law’. Under this law, you have already agreed to take a post-arrest breathalyzer test. By driving on a public road in New Jersey, you have consented to take a breath test on suspicion of drunk driving. If you refuse to take a breath test, you will be charged with a crime.
In contrast, field sobriety tests are not mandatory in New Jersey. You have every right to refuse to take a field sobriety test. Police officers will generally not tell you about this. In fact, they are not required to tell you that you can refuse to take a pre-arrest sobriety test without penalty.
Study after study has shown that the most common field sobriety tests are not very accurate. False positives are common.
4. Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer
The most important thing to do if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated in New Jersey is to call a DUI defense lawyer. Call a lawyer before you make any statements to police. More importantly, call a lawyer before pleading guilty or talking to a prosecutor. The consequences for a DUI conviction — even a first-time offense — can be severe.
There are options available. A New Jersey defense lawyer will review the circumstances of your arrest, assess the prosecution’s evidence, and protect your rights and interests. In some cases, that will mean challenging the charges. In other cases, it will mean working towards a plea agreement that reduces penalties.
Get Help From Our New Jersey DWI Defense Lawyer Right Away
At the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, our New Jersey drunk driving defense attorney will protect your rights. If you or your loved one was arrested for a DUI, we are here to help.
To schedule a confidential initial consultation, please call us today.