When you see red and blue flashing lights behind you, the thought “Oh no! What do I do?” probably pops into your head. Of course you know to slow down and pull over. But once the officer is there, questions of law arise and you might not be sure of your rights.
Here are the answers to some basic questions if you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Do I Have to Take the Breathalyzer Test?
Yes. New Jersey is an implied consent state. This means by carrying a valid state driver’s license, you have already agreed to a breathalyzer test. You might want to argue that you were not aware of this, but ignorance of the law does not get you out of it.
If you have not had anything to drink that night, it is better to blow a clean test than argue with the officer. Even if you are worried you will blow over the .08 BAC limit, it is better to follow the law.
What If I say No to the Breathalyzer Test?
If you refuse to take the test, a police officer may ask you to step out of the vehicle and arrest you for refusing to submit. This is a separate crime from a DUI and comes with its own harsh penalties. You can also be arrested for a DUI at this time if the officer has evidence to support this or you can be charged with a DUI later.
What is Considered a Refusal?
A police officer can consider a flat out no, silence, or an ambiguous response as a refusal to take the breathalyzer test. Ambiguous responses can be saying “maybe,” “I guess,” or “I am not sure.”
Can the Police Search My Car?
Maybe. There are some instances in which police officers can search your car during a stop, including if there are illegal items in plain view or if they have probable cause. Probable cause exists when the police have evidence of ongoing criminal activity – which can be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If the police see open cans or bottles of alcohol in your car, they may search your car for more alcohol. If you breathe over a .08 BAC, the police have a fact regarding criminal activity and may search your car for open containers of alcohol.
Can I Defend Myself?
You always have the right to defend yourself in court against refusing to submit and DUI charges. Some possible defenses are that the police officer did not have probable cause to pull you over or did not have probable cause to ask you to take a breathalyzer test.
Contact a New Jersey DUI Lawyer
While you can defend yourself in court, you also have the right to legal counsel. Having an experienced attorney by your side can make all the difference in proving your innocence or receiving a lesser penalty than possible under the law.
Contact The Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. at (732) 297-8200 or use the online contact form to schedule an appointment.