Getting charged for a DUI in New Jersey can be intimidating. Even people who are innocent sometimes feel pressured to take a plea deal. However, the more you know about your legal rights, the better equipped you will be to defend your case.
Police must act lawfully during a DUI traffic stop. If your rights were violated, your charges may be dismissed or reduced. Here are three common mistakes that police make that can help your criminal defense strategy:
#1: The validity of the stop itself
If a police officer has no reasonable suspicion that you are breaking the law, they cannot legally stop your car. This rule applies regardless of what evidence ends up being found during the traffic stop. Reasonable suspicion may include traffic violations such as:
- Driving too slow
- Not using turn signals
- Sudden stops
#2: Illegal checkpoint
Some people are charged for DUI after being stopped at checkpoints. While checkpoints are legal in New Jersey, they are subject to strict rules. The location of a checkpoint must have been selected for justifiable reasons, and police must act respectfully to all drivers.
If a DUI checkpoint was not conducted in a neutral fashion with courteous procedures, the entire checkpoint may have been illegal. A person who was charged for DUI after being stopped at an illegal checkpoint may be able to have their case dismissed.
#3: Sobriety test mistakes
A police officer may perform a breath test and/or field sobriety test when they suspect that a driver is under the influence of alcohol. Police must be trained to administer these tests properly because mistakes could result in a false positive
Refusing a test does not mean you have to plead guilty
While refusing a breath or blood test could result in consequences like drivers’ license suspension, it does not automatically make you guilty of DUI. You may still present evidence like police mistakes to dispute your DUI charge.