Arrested for DWI at a Sobriety Checkpoint in Ocean County?
Most people know that driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in New Jersey. If you operate a motor vehicle and your blood alcohol content (BAC) is at or above the legal limit, you are at risk of being arrested and charged with DUI. There are multiple ways in which police find drunk drivers in New Jersey, one of which is sobriety checkpoints. DWI checkpoints are extremely common in Ocean County, especially in the summer months. You may not know you have certain rights if you are stopped at a DWI checkpoint at the Jersey Shore. To learn more about what happens at a DWI checkpoint, what your rights are, and what you should do if you are charged with DUI at a checkpoint, continue reading this article. You can also contact Proetta & Oliver at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation with an experienced DWI lawyer.
Are the police allowed to set up DWI checkpoints in NJ?
While some debate exists on the constitutionality of DWI checkpoints and whether they violate an individual’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure, DWI checkpoints are permitted in New Jersey, so long as the police follow the correct procedure. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government’s interest in reducing drunk driving justifies the brief intrusion caused by a DUI ckeckpoint stop.
When selecting a location for a sobriety checkpoint in New Jersey, the police must collect information about prior DWI related arrests, accidents, and fatalities at a predetermined fixed location where they wish to set up the checkpoint. The police must also provide advanced public notice of the checkpoint but need not give notice of the exact location. If police fail to follow required guidelines when setting up a DWI checkpoint, any evidence they obtain during the checkpoint stop may be inadmissible in court.
What happens at a DUI checkpoint in New Jersey?
Checkpoints are often set up late at night in high traffic areas or near areas where the police believe people are more likely to be drinking and driving, such as outside an event or around a bar district. Usually, the police will use a counting system to stop vehicles at random and check the driver for signs of intoxication. If the driver exhibits signs of intoxication, the police may investigate further by administering field sobriety tests.
What are my rights at NJ DWI checkpoints?
First, you should know that when you see a DWI checkpoint, you do not have an obligation to remain driving on that road toward the checkpoint. So long as you can legally make a U-turn or otherwise reroute your vehicle, you may do so. The police cannot stop you simply for driving away from the DWI checkpoint but may stop you if you are showing signs of intoxication or you are committing a traffic offense.
You also have the right to refuse a field sobriety test if the officer requests you to submit to one. If you choose to refuse, the police cannot issue you a ticket due to your refusal. If the police ask to search your vehicle, you may also refuse. However, if the police have probable cause to believe that you may have evidence of a crime or contraband in your vehicle, they may conduct the search anyway. Officers may also ask that you submit to a breathalyzer test if they have reasonable belief that you are driving under the influence. If you refuse a breath test in New Jersey, you can be charged with DWI refusal. This is a serious offense punishable by the same penalties as typical DWI charges in NJ.
Charged with DWI at a Checkpoint? Get Help from an Experienced Toms River DUI Attorney at Proetta & Oliver
If you have been charged with drunk driving after being stopped at a DWI checkpoint, you should contact an experienced DWI defense lawyer right away. Depending on the facts of your case, you may have one or more defenses available and your lawyer may be able to argue for the exclusion of certain evidence at trial. Contact the DUI attorneys at Proetta & Oliver for a free consultation at (848) 238-2100. With offices in Point Pleasant, we defend clients charged with DWI’s at checkpoints in Brick, Lacey, Point Pleasant, Stafford, Seaside, Ocean Twp., and throughout Ocean County, NJ.