No one enjoys seeing blue lights in their rear view. However, it is likely that most drivers will be pulled over by a police officer at some point in their lifetime. Knowing what to do during a traffic stop in New Jersey is very important, as it may spell significant implications for the outcome of your case if you are charged with a criminal offense, arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), or issued a ticket for a motor vehicle violation. If you have been stopped by police in NJ, it is crucial to remember that you have both responsibilities and rights during a traffic stop. Continue reading to learn more about these and contact the Law Office of William Proetta Criminal Law to get answers to your specific questions from an experienced Middlesex County criminal defense lawyer. We are available anytime at (732) 659-9600 and consultations are always provided free of charge.
A Few Basic Rules for a New Jersey Traffic Stop
Traffic stops are not always handled in the same manner in New Jersey. The circumstances surrounding the reason for the stop usually determine the police officer’s actions. However, there are some basic rules that you should follow whenever a police officer stops your vehicle in NJ.
- Pull over as soon as you see the lights flashing behind you. Any attempt to drive away could be perceived as eluding police, which is a serious crime in New Jersey.
- Remain calm. You are not guilty of a crime simply because the officer initiated a traffic stop.
- If it is dark outside, turning on your interior light can help assure the officer you are not a threat.
- Place your hands on the steering wheel and keep them there. Do not reach for items in your vehicle because this could be interpreted as a dangerous threat.
- Do not give the officer a reason to search your vehicle. In most cases, an officer does not have reasonable cause to search the vehicle. However, if you act nervous, appear to try to hide something, or throw something out of the window before the stop, the officer may have probable cause to search your vehicle.
- If you have a concealed carry permit, immediately notify the officer of your permit and whether you have a firearm on your person or in your vehicle.
- Provide your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance information to the officer upon request. If you must reach for your wallet, into the glove compartment, or into a purse to retrieve the items, ask the officer before reaching for the items.
- Do not attempt to get out of the vehicle unless instructed by the officer. If the officer instructs you to get out of the vehicle, you should listen carefully to all instructions and follow the instructions. Do not make any sudden moves or place your hands where they cannot be seen clearly.
- Let the officer do most of the talking. Do not interrupt or become combative or argumentative. Officers are trained to allow you to incriminate yourself and they can use any information you provide as probable cause. Therefore, refrain from giving into the urge to defend yourself or explain your actions. Be polite, but exercise your right to remain silent as much as possible.
- If you are arrested, do not resist arrest. You do not want to add any additional charges, such as resisting arrest or hindering apprehension. You will have an opportunity to defend yourself in court.
Your Rights During a Motor Vehicle Stop in NJ
- Although you are not required to answer questions during a traffic stop, it is usually a wise decision to be cooperative. However, as we discussed above, do not give into the urge to provide more information than is necessary.
- By law, you have the right to object to the search of your vehicle or person. However, you should not resist if the officer decides to search the vehicle or your person because that can make matters worse.
- The officers must prove they had probable cause for a search. If probable cause did not exist, any evidence seized cannot be used against you. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys often use lack of probable cause for a search or traffic stop as grounds for a motion to suppress evidence. In other words, if evidence such as a controlled dangerous substance like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin was obtained during an unlawful search, we can argue that it should be deemed inadmissible in court. Without essential evidence, the charges against you may be dismissed.
- If you have been arrested, a very important right is the right to legal counsel. The officers may try to persuade you that you do not need an attorney or that asking for a lawyer makes you appear guilty. Don’t take the bait.
Charged after a Traffic Stop in the Middlesex County, NJ Area?
If you are facing charges for DWI, drug possession, eluding, or another criminal offense following a motor vehicle stop in New Jersey, seek legal guidance right away. An experienced criminal defense attorney can investigate the traffic stop and the arrest to determine if your legal rights were violated. They can also help you develop the most effective defense strategy for court. The skilled NJ criminal defense attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law are here to help you fight your charges. We do just that on a daily basis in courts in Edison, Woodbridge, Old Bridge, Piscataway, New Brunswick, Sayreville, and surrounding communities. Call (732) 659-9600 now for your free consultation.