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Traffic stops occur every day throughout the state of New Jersey. Even if you have no reason to think you did anything wrong, being pulled over by an officer can be an intimidating and sometimes frightening experience. Being nervous causes some individuals to act in a way that the police can deem suspicious, which can lead to a whole host of additional problems. Below are just a few tips on how to handle a traffic stop in New Jersey.
If you have already been issued a ticket or arrest after being pulled over, one of our skilled Essex County criminal defense lawyers can help. We have extensive experience representing clients facing DWI charges, drug possession, reckless driving, weapons offenses, and other charges arising out of traffic stops. For help with a case in Millburn, Montclair, Short Hills, Bloomfield, Nutley, West Orange, or elsewhere in Essex County, NJ, contact us today. You can receive a free consultation about your specific case 24/7 by calling (201)-654-3464.
What do I do at a Traffic Stop in NJ?
Always Pull Over Right Away
In some cases, it may take a few seconds or minutes before you realize that an officer has turned on his or her lights behind you. You should always stop your vehicle as soon as you know that the sirens are on. You should also keep your hands on the steering wheel after you are stopped. Do not exit the vehicle or start looking for your vehicle information. Instead, wait for the officer to approach and make contact with you. Then you can pull out your vehicle information and driver’s license.
Generally, Comply with the Officers’ Requests BUT…
As a rule, following the officer’s orders is a good idea. If he or she asks you to step out of the car, for example, you should do so. If the officer asks you to go through field sobriety tests, you should also do that. However, if you have a physical condition that may inhibit your ability to do that type of test, you should explain that to the officer. Some injuries, particularly leg or ankle problems, will “show” the same way that drunkenness might during a field sobriety test. Also, make sure also to take a breath test if the officer wants to test your blood alcohol content. Otherwise, you may be arrested and charged with refusal to take a breathalyzer test.
Do NOT Consent to a Search
Although it may not seem like it in the moment, you have rights when it comes to a search of your vehicle during a traffic stop. You are not legally obligated to allow the officer to search your car, and he or she has to have just cause or your consent to do so. If the police search your car and do find evidence of a crime, the validity of the search may be a good defense, but this depends on the specific facts of your case. While they may have a valid reason to search your vehicle, you should allow your attorney to examine what happened when preparing your defense. The key thing to remember is that you are not required to provide your consent to a search of your car.
Stay Calm and Respectful
Traffic stops can be scary, and the police officer may not be very nice to you. It is important that you take the high road and remain calm and respectful. Becoming anxious and overwhelmed can look like you have done something wrong. Take a few deep breaths before the officer gets to your car. Keep in mind that virtually everything you do outside of your vehicle is likely on the police officer’s dash cam. The officer may also have a body cam as well. If this is shown to a jury or judge, you want it to look like you were doing everything you were supposed to do as part of the stop.
Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent if Arrested
If you are arrested or detained, you have the right to remain silent and request an attorney—and you should do so.
What to do if You Ran into Trouble when Pulled Over in Montclair
If you received a summons at a traffic stop or you wound up arrested and charged with a crime, our dedicated team of Essex County criminal defense lawyers are here to defend you and protect your interests from the moment you enlist our help. We have handled countless situations like this and we can ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process. Call our local offices in Newark today at (201)-654-3464 for more information.
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