In the state of New Jersey, a police officer can only pull someone over if he suspects the driver has committed a traffic violation. The police officer will approach your car and tell you why he has pulled you over. He will then ask you for your driver’s license and car registration.
It is important that you retrieve these documents as quickly as possible and hand them over to the police officer. You should always comply with the requests of a NJ police officer in a polite manner and not act aggressively. Any signs of aggression may make the police officer more suspicious of you and trigger unnecessary questioning, breath tests, or searches. If you are pulled over, it is important to know your rights and to invoke them.
What you should do if you are pulled over:
o Remain calm and compliant
o Stay in the car and keep your hands in clear view
o Fulfill the police officer’s requests without arguing
o Answer questions briefly
o Act courteously
o Invoke your rights if necessary
Do I have the right to refuse a search of my car?
Yes. You can refuse a search of your vehicle so long as the police officer does not have probable cause to suspect that you have committed a crime. A police officer cannot arrest you for simply refusing a search of your car without probable cause. If a police officer forces an unwarranted search, any evidence obtained would be thrown out of a court of law because it was not properly obtained.
Do I have the right to refuse a breath test (or blood alcohol test or urine test)?
No. By driving on the roads in the state of New Jersey, you are consenting to give a breath sample to do chemical testing for the purposes of determining the presence of alcohol in your body. You can, however, ask that the test be performed in a hospital to ensure its accuracy since roadside breath tests are often inaccurate. If you refuse to participate in chemical testing, your license will automatically be suspended for a minimum of 7 months-even if you have not been drinking.
Do I have the right to refuse to take a field sobriety test?
Yes. You do not have to take a field sobriety test if asked by a NJ police officer. These tests are often not accurate and do not take into account any medications you may be taking, poor balance, or your stamina the time of test. Politely refuse to participate in a field sobriety test, but be aware that they may arrest you and take you to jail where they will ask you to take a chemical test-breath, blood, or urine-which you are required by law to take.
What if a NJ police officer asks if I’ve been drinking?
Often police officers assume that since you are driving late at night, you are probably driving under the influence of alcohol. One of the first things they ask you is whether you have been drinking. If you have been drinking, it is best to invoke your rights and plead the 5th (the 5th amendment says that you have the right to refuse to make any incriminating statements against yourself that could be used against you in a court of law).
You do not have to answer any of his questions about where you were, what you did, who you were with, or whether you were drinking alcohol. It is best to reply; “I would like to speak with an attorney before answering any questions.”