The Do’s and Dont’s of a Traffic Stop in NJ

No one enjoys being pulled over by the police. A traffic stop can be inconvenient and stressful. However, knowing your rights and responsibilities during a traffic stop in New Jersey is crucial when you see those lights flashing behind you.

In New Jersey, a law enforcement officer can pull you over if they have “reasonable suspicion” that you are violating a law—including a traffic law. For instance, police may stop you if they suspect you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if you are driving recklessly.

In order to search your vehicle after stopping you, the officer must have probable cause to believe you are violating the law and that there is evidence or contraband in your vehicle. As you might expect, some of the most common charges arising from traffic stops in New Jersey involve drugs (controlled dangerous substances, or CDS) and weapons. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law defend clients on a regular basis charged with crimes after motor vehicle stops, including possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, firearms, and other weapons. Contact us today at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation about your criminal or traffic charges.

If you find yourself in pulled over by police, keep in mind the following list of best ways to handle a traffic stop in NJ:

What to Do When You’re Pulled Over in New Jersey

If your vehicle is stopped by a law enforcement officer in New Jersey, the first thing you need to do is put your turn signal on and pull over in a safe spot as quickly as possible. Roll down your window and place your hands on the steering wheel, where they are visible. If it is dark, you may turn your interior light on, but keep your hands on the steering wheel when the officer approaches your vehicle.

Remember to stay in the vehicle unless and until the officer asks you to step outside the vehicle. When the law enforcement officer asks you to produce your license, registration, and proof of insurance, comply with their request.

Throughout the traffic stop, it is important to remain calm and behave in a respectful manner. If the officer asks to search your vehicle, you have the right to decline, if you wish. Depending on the circumstances, the officer may believe they have probable cause to search your vehicle anyway, even without your consent. For example, they may say they detect the odor of marijuana coming from the car-this is considered probable cause. Remain calm through this process.

If you are placed under arrest, invoke your 5th Amendment right to remain silent. When you reach the police station, tell them you want to call a lawyer. If you believe you were treated unfairly or that your rights were violated in any way, our experienced criminal defense lawyers can help defend you against any charges and if possible, file a complaint.

What Not to Do During a Traffic Stop in NJ

There are several things you should not do during a traffic stop in NJ. First of all, do not continue driving or speed up when you see police lights behind you. The moment you see lights or hear sirens, you should slow down and pull over immediately.

Once you have pulled over, do not get aggressive with the law enforcement officer or exit your vehicle unless you are requested to get out. Don’t reach around for things inside your vehicle—simply keep your hands on the wheel until the officer asks you for your license, registration, and proof of insurance. If the officer requests that you step out of your vehicle, don’t refuse.

Don’t consent to a search of your vehicle. However, don’t interfere with an officer’s search if they determine that they have probable cause to conduct the search. If you believe the officer does not have probable cause, you can speak to a lawyer about that subsequent to the traffic stop. Our attorneys can use lack of probable cause as a strategy for getting your charges dismissed in court.

Charged With a Crime After a Traffic Stop in Ocean County?

Remember these dos and don’ts if you are involved in a traffic stop in NJ. Following these tips and remaining calm and respectful can help to protect your rights and keep yourself safe. If after a traffic stop, you believe your rights were violated, you were treated unfairly, or charges were pressed against you, the criminal defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law are here to assist you. Call (848) 238-2100 or contact us online for an absolutely free consultation with an attorney.

With offices in Toms River, we defend clients in Municipal and Superior Courts throughout Ocean County, including in Lacey Township, Manchester, Point Pleasant, Brick, Seaside Heights, and nearby areas.

William Proetta

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.