DWI Checkpoints: New Jersey Rules and Procedures

dui checkpoint

Charged with DWI at a Checkpoint in Middlesex County, NJ

While driving down the road, you see a line of vehicles, some orange traffic cones, and multiple police cars. Finally, you see a sign informing you of a DWI checkpoint ahead and immediately wonder if it is too late to turn around. Let’s take a closer look at that question and other common concerns regarding the rules and procedures of DWI checkpoints in New Jersey. If you have already been arrested and charged with drunk driving at a DUI checkpoint in Middlesex County, it is important to speak with an experienced DWI defense lawyer right away. Having an attorney thoroughly examine the evidence in your case is the first step toward creating the best defense against your DUI charges. To speak with an attorney at William Proetta Criminal Law today who can help, call (732) 659-9600 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.

First, if you see a DWI checkpoint up ahead, you can take an alternate route or make a U-turn in order to avoid it, so long as doing so would not violate any traffic laws. The police cannot pull you over solely based on this, if they do not otherwise have reasonable suspicion that you are violating the law. However, keep in mind that, practically speaking, you may draw attention to yourself by rerouting your vehicle to avoid a DWI checkpoint, causing the police to notice that your tail light is out or you are driving above the speed limit, providing them with grounds to pull you over.

NJ DWI Checkpoint Rules & Procedures

In New Jersey, police must be consistent in their DWI checkpoint policies and procedures. To conduct a proper DWI checkpoint, the police must carefully select a location for the checkpoint based on information collected on DWI arrests and accidents at a fixed location. They must also provide the public in the municipality where the DWI checkpoint will occur with advanced notice of the checkpoint. However, the police are not required to provide advanced notice of the checkpoint’s exact location. Drivers must be alerted to checkpoints with signage and appropriate lighting.

When deciding which vehicles to stop, the police must employ a neutral mathematical formula. They may only stop a vehicle for a brief period of time to ask for identification documents and look for signs of impairment. If the police recognize that the driver shows signs of impairment, they may administer field sobriety tests. However, if the driver does not show any signs of impairment, the police must let them go.

Can I refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

If you are stopped at a DWI checkpoint in New Jersey and police have probable cause to believe that you are driving with a blood alcohol content level above the legal limit, they may request that you submit to a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, they may arrest you for refusal to provide a breath sample, which essentially means you’re facing the same penalties as you would with a typical charge for driving under the influence.

Can Police Search my Vehicle?

You do not have to consent to a vehicle search at a DWI checkpoint in New Jersey. Keep in mind that this does not necessarily mean the police will be unable to search your vehicle. While obtaining your consent is one way for the police to conduct a lawful search, they may also be able to do so with a search warrant or under certain exceptions to the warrant requirement like a search incident to your arrest, if contraband is in plain view, or under emergency circumstances.

In the context of a DWI stop, it is unlikely that the police will have a warrant to search a vehicle and more common that a search is conducted with consent, under the automobile exception, or incident to an arrest. Under the automobile exception, the police may conduct a vehicle search if they have probable cause to believe that a search of the vehicle is likely to uncover contraband or evidence of a crime. Your vehicle may also be searched if an illegal item such as marijuanacocaineheroin, or another drug is clearly visible.

New Brunswick DWI Checkpoint Charge Defense Lawyers

If you were charged with a DWI offense after being stopped at a checkpoint by police, contact the experienced DWI defense attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law for a free consultation at (732) 659-9600. We serve all of Middlesex County, including New Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Metuchen, Woodbridge, South Brunswick, Plainsboro, Cranbury, and Carteret.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.