It is a question that most hope will only be hypothetical in their lives. No one wants to be pulled over and investigated for drunk driving. Still, DUI stops happen in New Jersey every day, and often to people who would never expect it.
Therefore, it is valuable to lay out what to expect from a drunk driving stop and what a suspect should do to best protect themselves from aggressive law enforcement tactics. The following are a couple simple but important tips to follow if pulled over by police:
Watch how you talk and what you say: The officer will approach your vehicle and engage in a conversation with you. It is best to be friendly with the officer by greeting him or her politely and providing the materials asked for. Being friendly and providing your license and paperwork does not mean providing endless conversation and answers to an officer’s questions. You have the right to refrain from answering questions that might incriminate you. So think before you speak and remember that words rather than silence tend to pad an officer’s case against you.
Be a picky test-taker: Law enforcement uses various tactics during a traffic stop to try to identify a driver who is allegedly drunk. They will be looking for how you speak and how you function when trying to find your paperwork. They will also often have you get out of the car (only get out of the car if asked) and go through field sobriety tests. These tests might include the request that you put heel to toe and walk a straight line, for example. Know that you are not legally required to take this or any other test like this.
The test that you are required to take, however, is the chemical test upon request. New Jersey law punishes even sober drivers for breath test refusal by suspending their driver’s license. There are ways to present a criminal defense even when a driver takes a chemical test, so the refusal can just add more trouble to an already stressful legal situation.
These are only some basic pieces of advice for anyone who is pulled over for suspected DWI. An experienced criminal defense attorney should be the source of more thorough, specific advice if you are arrested and charged with DUI.