Your Rights when Arrested for DWI in New Jersey

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Arrested for DUI in NJ – What are my Rights?

DWI arrests are always a jarring event. You likely feel unfairly singled out, outraged, and incredibly inconvenienced. If you are under the influence when arrested, you may feel disoriented and scared. Either way, it is critical to remember your rights during the time leading up to and after an arrest for DUI charges. Here is the critical information that you should know about rights when arrested for DWI in New Jersey. If have been charged with DWI in Ocean Township, Berkeley, Stafford, Manchester, Point Pleasant, Barnegat, or another town in Ocean County, we strongly suggest that you contact our DWI lawyers to get a better understanding of the charges, what happens next, and how we can help defend your case.  Call (848) 238-2100 now to speak with an attorney who can expand on each of these points, explain your rights further, and discuss your options based on the specific facts of your case.

Rights Before You are Arrested for DWI in NJ

Officers are permitted to request that you provide your license and registration to them if you are involved in a traffic stop. The police are also permitted to ask you a number of questions designed to help them determine if you are driving under the influence or having a medical emergency. These questions include asking whether you are sick or injured, whether you are diabetic, whether you have been drinking, where you are coming from and going to, whether you have any physical disabilities that might explain how you are walking or talking, and whether you know why you were stopped.

You should be aware that after providing your license and registration to the police, you are not required to answer additional questions. You are within your rights to decline to answer whether and how much you have been drinking, and you may even decline to tell them where you are headed or where you are coming from. Police may use your answers to even the simplest questions to justify arresting you. Even more importantly, they are judging how you are speaking, whether you are slurring, and whether your answers make sense to them. If your answers seem off in any particular way according to the officer, the state may try to use their report and testimony as observational evidence that you were driving under the influence. It bears repeating that you are not required to answer their questions, although you should generally try to be polite and cooperative even when declining to answer.

Police are also permitted to request that you perform a series of standardized field sobriety tests like walking a line, standing on one leg, following a pen with your eyes, etc. How you perform on field sobriety tests like the walk and turn, the penlight test, or the one leg stand test may also be used to argue that you were driving over the limit. On the other hand, your attorney may argue that you were overly tired, nervous, have poor balance, have a medical condition or pre-existing injury, or provide a number of other reasons for your field sobriety test results. If you choose to refuse to take a breath test, this can lead to further problems and similar penalties to those for typical DWI charges.  Refusal to take a breathalyzer test usually leads to serious charges for refusing a breathalyzer, also known as DWI refusal.

It is also important to note that you are within your rights to decline an officer’s request to search your car prior to being arrested. Police may try to avoid the work required in requesting a search warrant by asking for your consent to a search of your vehicle. You are not required by law to consent to an officer looking in your vehicle. An officer must have a warrant or probable cause to search your car for evidence of drugs or alcohol. If asked to consent to a search, you can say no! Learn more about the rules on stopping and searching your car in New Jersey.

Rights After a DWI Arrest in New Jersey

If the police conclude that you are under the influence and arrest you at a DWI checkpoint or traffic stop, you will be arrested and taken to the police station. New Jersey uses the Alcotest breathalyzer device to ascertain a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when under suspicion of DUI. Police are required to follow verify stringent procedural rules when performing breath tests, prior to the administration of a breathalyzer, and if you refuse. You may also be asked to submit to what is known as a Drug Recognition Examination after being arrested. You should speak to a knowledgeable DWI lawyer about exactly what happened during your arrest and your responses, as they may be extremely valuable to your defense.

When Facing DWI Charges after Being Arrested in NJ

You have a number of additional rights that you can exercise if charged with a DUI in New Jersey. If you provided a breath or blood sample for example, you are entitled to the results of the tests for blood alcohol content or drug test results. Your discovery package will include reports related to any test results, calibration records for the machine used, and copies of police reports. The prosecution is also required to provide copies of any statements you made during your arrest or the period leading up to you arrest, among other vital information. For example, there may be police dashcam video of the motor vehicle stop, field sobriety tests, and recordings of what you and the officer did and said on the side of the road. A skilled DWI defense lawyer at our firm will review all of these materials and to identify potential defenses and grounds for a dismissal.

Defend Your Rights when Charged with DWI – Call our DWI Defense Lawyers Today

If you have been charged with a DWI in Ocean County, including in Beachwood, Toms River, Seaside Park, Brick, or Lacey, contact William Proetta Criminal Law today for a free initial consultation. We are here to help 24/7. Our DWI defense attorneys will thoroughly review the discovery in your case to identify any procedural errors or factors that we can use to successfully defend you against a DWI charge.

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.