Garden State Drunk Driving Update: What to Expect During a DWI-related Traffic Stop

Being arrested for intoxicated driving, especially if one is a law-abiding citizen, is nothing if not a traumatic and worrisome event. Motorists who are pulled over for traffic infractions generally are nervous to begin with, but if the driver knows that he consumed even a little alcohol previous to the police stop, that person’s anxiety level may be quite obvious to the patrolman in charge. As New Jersey trial lawyers and experts in the field of drunk driving defense, my legal staff is sympathetic to our clients’ situations, especially in cases where they believe they have done nothing wrong.

While it is often difficult to plan for an unforeseeable event, such as a DWI or drug DUI arrest, it is nevertheless a good idea to review some steps to take when such an occurrence does take place. Since most drunken driving arrests begin with a police stop for what is often a simple traffic infraction, it is wise to understand one’s rights under such circumstances.

When looking at what to do prior to and during a routine traffic stop, it is important to remain calm and react in a safe and predictable manner. This can begin the very first moment when a motorist notices that police cruiser following his or her car. Most drivers will likely see a patrol car in their rearview mirror just a short time before the officer switches on his emergency lights. In such instances, it is critical to act in a rational and intelligent fashion in order to demonstrate to the officer your ability to make intelligent and safe driving decisions from the onset.

Once a patrolman signals a driver to pull over, he or she should do so in a safe and controlled manner. Many motorists will find that fear and nervousness take over; they may feel the urge to immediately pull to the side of the road as soon as the police car’s lights are turned on. It is best to fight this knee-jerk reaction and take a moment to look for a safe (and well-lit area, if at night) allowing for enough space to accommodate the motorist’s vehicle on the side of the road without subjecting the occupants or the vehicle itself to dangers posed by passing traffic.

Anything a driver can do to reassure the officer in charge that he or she has the ability to make intelligent and rational decisions can go a long way to influencing the officer to consider that driver’s level of sobriety. Remember, fear may encourage you to make snap decisions, but operating one’s vehicle in a safe manner is, on the whole, a better strategy when dealing with a police officer during a roadside traffic stop.

Acting in a calm fashion will also help to dispel any assumptions on the officer’s part that you may be impaired. It is a good idea to have your driver’s license, auto registration and insurance paperwork ready to hand to the officer. Many patrolmen watch for a driver’s ability to handle their important documents. It is critical to avoid the appearance of impairment, which may be assumed by the officer if he notices a motorist who is fumbling for things or who is slow to react. In general, have all your documentation in hand and ready to present to the officer once he approaches the vehicle.

These days everyone is on edge and policemen are no different. In fact, even though a police officer carries a gun, they can easily feel threatened by the most simple of actions. Particularly at night, it is a good idea to switch on your interior lights so that the officer can see the inside of your vehicle. Day or night, it is wise to place your hands on the steering wheel as the officer approaches, in order to avoid any misunderstanding that you may be concealing a weapon.

From a legal standpoint, it is critical that a DWI suspect not volunteer any more information than is solicited by the patrolman. Remember the old line, “Anything you say can be held against you in a court of law.” This is not just a line from television cop shows, it’s a fact. These days, it is important to remember that the officer may be recording your responses.

Do not provide unnecessary explanations for what you assume the officer may have pulled you over. Offering unsolicited information, such as where you were driving to or coming from, or why you were driving your vehicle in a certain manner. If the officer hears the driver’s explanation for some perceived traffic offense, the driver’s own statements and even his actions may later be used against him in court.

Finally, it is advisable to be as courteous as possible to the patrolman. Speaking in a calm and polite tone of voice will not only make the motorist appear in control of himself, but it should also improve the interaction between the driver and the policeman. With modern police technology it is no longer unusual for suspects to expect that they may be recorded during a traffic stop. Staying in control of the situation can possibly work in one’s favor if the video record is used in court to illustrate the level of sobriety exhibited by the motorist during a DWI police stop.

There are other facets of drunk driving traffic stop, such as whether or not it is wise to refuse to submit to a breath test, or what can happen during a roadside field sobriety test to make an officer believe that the subject is impaired. For these reasons, and many others, we recommend that anyone charged with drinking and driving here in the Garden State seek the advice of a qualified DWI/drug DUI defense lawyer. A competent DWI attorney should have the legal skills and trial experience to provide an aggressive defense for those individuals accused of drunk driving or other alcohol- or drug-related offenses.Once a patrolman signals you to pull over, do so in a safe and controlled manner. Many motorists will find that fear and nervousness take over, and they will feel the urge to immediately pull to the side of the road as soon as the police car’s lights are turned on. It is best to fight this knee-jerk reaction and take a moment to look for a safe (and well-lit area, if at night) allowing for enough space to accommodate your vehicle on the side of the road without subjecting you or your vehicle to the dangers of passing traffic.

Anything a driver can do to reassure the officer in charge that he or she has the ability to make intelligent and rational decisions can go a long way to influencing the officer to consider that driver’s level of sobriety. Remember, fear may encourage you to make snap decisions, but operating one’s vehicle in a safe manner is, on the whole, a better strategy when dealing with a police officer during a roadside traffic stop.

Acting in a calm fashion will also help to dispel any assumptions on the officer’s part that you may be impaired. It is a good idea to have your driver’s license, auto registration and insurance paperwork ready to hand to the officer. Many patrolmen watch for a driver’s ability to handle their important documents. It is critical to avoid the appearance of impairment, which may be assumed by the officer if he notices a motorist who is fumbling for things or who is slow to react. In general, have all your documentation in hand and ready to present to the officer once he approaches the vehicle.

These days everyone is on edge and policemen are no different. In fact, even though a police officer carries a gun, they can easily feel threatened by the most simple of actions. Particularly at night, it is a good idea to switch on your interior lights so that the officer can see the inside of your vehicle. Day or night, it is wise to place your hands on the steering wheel as the officer approaches, in order to avoid any misunderstanding that you may be concealing a weapon.

From a legal standpoint, it is critical that a DWI suspect not volunteer any more information than is solicited by the patrolman. Remember the old line, “Anything you say can be held against you in a court of law.” This is not just a line from television cop shows, it’s a fact. These days, it is important to remember that the officer may be recording your responses.

Do not provide unnecessary explanations for what you assume the officer may have pulled you over. Offering unsolicited information, such as where you were driving to or coming from, or why you were driving your vehicle in a certain manner. If the officer hears the driver’s explanation for some perceived traffic offense, the driver’s own statements and even his actions may later be used against him in court.

Finally, it is advisable to be as courteous as possible to the patrolman. Speaking in a calm and polite tone of voice will not only make the motorist appear in control of himself, but it should also improve the interaction between the driver and the policeman. With modern police technology it is no longer unusual for suspects to expect that they may be recorded during a traffic stop. Staying in control of the situation can possibly work in one’s favor if the video record is used in court to illustrate the level of sobriety exhibited by the motorist during a DWI police stop.

There are other facets of drunk driving traffic stop, such as whether or not it is wise to refuse to submit to a breath test, or what can happen during a roadside field sobriety test to make an officer believe that the subject is impaired. For these reasons, and many others, we recommend that anyone charged with drinking and driving here in the Garden State seek the advice of a qualified DWI/drug DUI defense lawyer. A competent DWI attorney should have the legal skills and trial experience to provide an aggressive defense for those individuals accused of drunk driving or other alcohol- or drug-related offenses.