The Critical Importance of Cooperation After Being Stopped
Being pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of drunk driving is an intimidating experience. While you are supposed to be presumed innocent, the police officer is out to make an arrest. To protect your future, it’s important to understand your rights at every step in the process.
It is critical to cooperate with the police officer immediately after being stopped for DWI. Regardless of whether you believe the officer had probable cause to stop you, respectfully producing your driver’s license, insurance card and registration are important.
As an experienced Atlantic City DWI lawyer, I see too many people who could have prevented arrest by sticking to some basic principles of any DWI stop. I am John W. Tumelty. I have more than 30 years of experience as a former state prosecutor with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and former assistant county prosecutor with the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. My guidance can help you:
- Stay out of jail
- Keep your driver’s license
- Minimize or avoid the consequences of DWI conviction
Contact me immediately if you or a loved one has been arrested for DWI or if you have questions about a DWI stop.
Cooperation, Not Self-Incrimination
When you are stopped by a police officer in any situation, it is your civic duty to cooperate but not incriminate yourself. Knowing what to do after being stopped for DWI is very helpful to your defense and/or prevent arrest in the first place. First, readily produce required legal documents, answer factual questions about your name, your address, the owner of the vehicle, your age and so forth in cooperation with the officer, but do not do the following:
Don’t answer questions with respect to drinking.
The officer may have no reason to suspect you or anyone in your vehicle of being intoxicated beyond profiling you based on age, gender, race, driving record, vehicle make, etc. You are not obligated by law to answer questions relating to your sobriety.
Don’t agree to a field sobriety test.
The police officer must have established probable cause beyond your appearance to request you to perform a field sobriety test. The officer can still ask you to get out of your vehicle, but do not agree to the sobriety test. I can defend your rights and your best interests if the officer believes he or she has probable cause to arrest you.
Here are answers to questions I commonly receive about DWI stops:
- Should I take the field sobriety test? In New Jersey, there is no law requiring you to do the field sobriety test. Politely refuse and it won’t count against you.
- Should I take the Breathalyzer test? New Jersey is an implied consent state. This means that if a police officer has probable cause to arrest you for DWI, you are required to take a breath test. If you refuse, you will receive an additional ticket for refusal and a seven months’ driver’s license suspension. The refusal can be used as substantive evidence against you in your DWI case.
- What should I say if an officer asked me if I had anything to drink? You have an absolute right not to answer. Don’t answer any incriminating questions.
- How soon will I have to appear in court? From your time of arrest, it will take about six to eight weeks before your final court date.
- Will I be able to drive before my court date? In New Jersey, you are presumed innocent of drunk driving until you are found guilty in court. You can keep your driver’s license and continue to drive until you are found guilty.
- When should I hire an attorney? To prepare the strongest possible defense, it’s important to hire an attorney as soon as possible. If you wait too long, it may not be possible to obtain crucial evidence such as witness statements.
If you’ve been charged with a DWI, you need sound legal advice. Contact me today at 609-390-4600 for your free initial consultation regarding your DWI case. I can be reached 24-hours a day, seven days a week.