Some people would say that perception is everything these days. It certainly would seem to be based on advertising gimmicks and marketing strategies; but what about daily life? As Garden State drunk driving lawyers we have successfully defended motorists who have been accused of DWI, drug DUI, breath test refusal and other alcohol- and drug-related charges. Many of our clients were charged with impaired vehicle operation following what may have seemed like a routine traffic stop, though they ended completely differently than anyone imagined at the time.
The fact of the matter is a percentage of drivers who are charged with drunk or drug-impaired driving after being stopped by police find later that the reasons for the traffic stop in the first place were erroneous. This is one of the more common instances where the value of retaining a skilled DWI-DUI defense lawyer becomes quite clear. The question that one should typically ask following a drunk driving arrest is whether or not that initial traffic stop was made correctly and for reasonable cause.
It is a fact that here in New Jersey, before a policeman or state trooper can stop a vehicle and arrest the driver for DUI-DWI, that officer must have what we refer to in the legal profession as probable cause. Quite simply, probable cause can be considered as a “reason” to believe that a crime, such as driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, has been committed, and that the person they are detaining actually committed said crime.
It’s interesting to note that a number of the attorneys on our legal staff have defended motorists accused of DWI who were pulled to the side of the road based solely on a routine police check of the vehicle’s license plates. During that license plate check, the officers in charge found that the owners of those vehicles had a history of previous violations. That’s interesting information, to be sure, but it’s not what we would call reasonable suspicion that a crime has taken place now. In fact, traffic stops indicate prejudice on the part of the policeman, and can be likened to the illegal practice of racial profiling. In the end, this insufficient basis for a traffic stop, much less the subsequent arrest of the driver.
Examples of probable cause usually include actual behaviors exhibited by a driver in the operation or maintenance of his or her vehicle. Observing a motorist weaving in and out of his lane, exceeding the speed limit, or running a red light; these constitute probable cause for a traffic stop, during which a drunk driving arrest might be made if the officer sees evidence of intoxication. So the question here is, how do most people end up being stopped in the first place?
Every situation is unique, but since most police stops involve some kind of moving violation or vehicle infraction, it would seem that the best course of action is for drivers to pay attention to what they are doing and to keep their car or truck in good working order. This includes checking the operating condition of one’s turn signals, checking for any cracks in the windshield, making certain that the exhaust pipes and muffler are secure and not rusting away.
Of course, being stopped for reckless driving is something that usually occurs because the driver was not being cautious for one reason or another. Amazingly, dozens of people all across the Garden State are stopped every week for exhibiting reckless driving behaviors including being involved in minor traffic accidents. Take one instance in the northeastern portion of New Jersey where a driver was first stopped for a moving violation and then arrested for DUI.
According to the news article we ran across, a 54-year-old driver from the Flemington area was arrested by police on charges of driving under the influence following a single-vehicle accident in Raritan Twp. Police stated that the accident took place along a part of Foran Blvd. near the intersection of Rte 31. The incident happened in the early morning hours on a Friday when the subject allegedly drove off the roadway and struck a nearby guard rail. Officers arriving on the scene reported that the man did not complain of any injuries, however they apparently detected signs of inebriation. The driver was subsequently taken into custody and charged with DWI, as well as careless and reckless driving.
DUI charge follows one-vehicle accident in Raritan Township, NJ.com, March 08, 2014