Challenging the Traffic Stop in a New Jersey DUI


If you’ve been pulled over by law enforcement officers in New Jersey and your blood alcohol content exceeded the legal level for a charge of drinking and driving, all is not necessarily lost. You have certain constitutional protections that require that police follow specific rules, both in making the traffic stop and after you’ve been detained.

Under the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you have a guaranteed right to be free from what is considered an unreasonable search or seizure. As set forth in the amendment, for a search or seizure to be “reasonable,” there must first be probable cause. Accordingly, before you can be pulled over, law enforcement officers must first observe a violation of the law or must have a reasonable belief that you have or are in the process of violating the law. Any infraction will provide the basis for a legal stop—a broken tail light, an illegal lane change or failure to obey traffic laws. Furthermore, if you match the description of a fugitive, or if the officer observes contraband or other evidence of illegal activity in your vehicle, that may constitute probable cause.

Once you have been stopped, the police officer may ask you questions. The requirement that you be provided with your “Miranda” warnings does not, however, go into effect, unless you have been taken into custody. The Miranda warnings include the admonition that anything you say may be used against you in court, and that you have the right to have an attorney present. Accordingly, you should be very careful when responding to any comments or questions from the police officer. If, however, the officer arrests you, but fails to provide the Miranda warnings, anything you say may be excluded from evidence at trial.

Contact Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich

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