Was Your DWI Traffic Stop Legal?
In the last blog post, we discussed DWI traffic stops and when officers can pull you over for DWI. There are also specific rules about what officers can and cannot do after they pull you over. If they fail to follow those rules, you may be able to ask the court to dismiss your case.
What can an officer do during the DWI stop?
If there is evidence that you are drunk, the officer can perform one of the following tests on you: blood test, breath test or field sobriety test. These tests allow the officer to gather proof of your intoxication in order to make a DWI arrest.
To conduct a field sobriety test, a police officer must have a “reasonable articulable suspicion” that you were driving drunk. This is generally an easy standard for an officer to meet. For example, if you smell of alcohol or if you answered the officer’s questions defensively, that may be enough for him or her to conduct a field sobriety test.
There are specific rules that officers must follow in conducting field sobriety tests. If they do not follow these rules and make an arrest based on an improper observation, you may be able to claim that you were unlawfully arrested. Furthermore, you may be able to argue that you have a medical condition that prevented you from passing the field sobriety tests.
An officer may also ask you to take the Alcotest or another breath test. Under New Jersey’s implied consent law, everyone gives their consent to take a breath test if police officers have probable cause to believe they were driving drunk. You may refuse this test and the officers cannot force you to take it, but by refusing the test, you face automatic license suspension and a fine.
Like the field sobriety tests, officers must follow certain procedures while administering a breath test. If they fail to do so, the court may throw out the evidence against you.
If you have been arrested for DWI, an experienced defense lawyer can help you determine whether the officers acted appropriately during your DWI stop. If they did not, depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to suppress some of the evidence against you and even have the charges dropped.