So you went out last night and had a few drinks. You get behind the wheel, and on your way home, you hear the sirens. The police are pulling you over. As DWI attorney in Newark and throughout New Jersey, I understand from dealing with hundreds of clients charged with a violation of NJSA 39:4-50 the sinking feeling that you may have experienced.
When someone is arrested for DWI there are several questions that a defense attorney will ask. Here is the opportunity to ask the first question. Was the stop justified? An officer cannot stop a vehicle unless he has a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a law has been violated. The term “reasonable and articulable suspicion” is a legal term which basically boils down to; was the stop warranted? Was your driving erratic, was there a complaint from a citizen, did you commit some type of motor vehicle infraction, was there an accident, or perhaps you were stopped at a checkpoint. If it was a checkpoint, there are stringent rules associated with this. The police would have had to follow a series of constitutional guidelines to establish that the checkpoint was legitimate. An experienced defense attorney will explore the reason for the stop and make sure that it is valid and justified. If the stop itself does not hold up to scrutiny, perhaps the remainder of the evidence against you would fall as well.
You pull over to the side of the road. The officer approaches your vehicle and asks you for your license, registration, and insurance. He claims to smell an odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from your vehicle and asks you if you have had anything to drink tonight. Regardless of your response, the officer needs probable cause to believe that you are operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. He will observe your hand movements while you retrieve your documentation. He will also take note of the status of your eyes as well as your speech. In addition, he will ask you to step out of the vehicle to perform “Field Sobriety Tests”.