DWI Traffic Stops in New Jersey
In another case of what-not-to-do, a man was charged with DWI in Allentown after he drove through a police barrier.
Police officers had used their cars to block a road covered in cooking oil from a recent truck spill. The alleged drunk driver drove around the police cars. The officers at the scene pulled him over for that maneuver and tested him for alcohol. He now faces driving while intoxicated and drug possession charges for drugs that the officers found in the car.
It is not surprising that police officers pulled the man over and tested him for DWI, but when can an officer make a DWI traffic stop?
When can an officer pull you over for DWI?
There are two types of DWI traffic stops in New Jersey: stops based on traffic violations, and DWI checkpoints. In the first and more common scenario, an officer can pull a car over if a traffic violation has occurred.
For example, if a car swerves over a highway line, speeds or makes an illegal turn, the officer can pull it over and subsequently check for drunk driving. If, however, there were no traffic violations and it appears the officer stopped the car on account of race or another unlawful factor, the traffic stop will be considered illegal and the evidence could be thrown out.
At DWI checkpoints / sobriety checkpoints, law enforcement officers use a mathematical formula to stop vehicles randomly and ask drivers questions to determine whether they are impaired. Sobriety checkpoints are considered legal. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the public interest in reducing drunk driving is greater than the intrusion on a person’s rights caused by the DWI checkpoints.
Source: Lehigh Valley Live, “Allentown man charged with DUI after driving through police blockades,” Sarah Wojcik, May 14, 2012.