Seeing blue and red lights flashing in the rearview mirror is enough to make anyone nervous. It can be particularly upsetting when you have had something to drink. In New Jersey, a police officer must have probable cause to pull you over. You could have a taillight out, you could have swerved or you may have failed to signal a turn. A small traffic infraction is enough reason for a law enforcement officer to pull your vehicle over.
It is normal to be nervous when a police officer pulls you over. However, you do not want to overact and make things worse. Here are some tips of how to behave if you are pulled over for DUI.
Stay as calm as possible and cooperate
Even though you are likely nervous, try to act as calm as possible. Acting very nervous could make the police officer more suspicious. You should also answer the officer's questions. Only if you are arrested do you have the right to remain silent. As long as you are not under arrest, you should reply to what the officer says in a polite manner. Do not offer any extra information, as you may say something that incriminates you.
Stay in the vehicle until otherwise directed
Unless you are asked to get out of the vehicle, you should remain where you are and keep your hands visible. It is usually best to keep your hands on the steering wheel. This will show the police officer that you are cooperating, and he or she has nothing to fear from you. It should also help keep you safe from any misinterpretations of your behavior on the officer's part.
You may have to take field sobriety tests
If the officer suspects you are intoxicated, he or she may order you to get out of your vehicle and perform a series of field sobriety tests. These tests may include walking in a straight line, standing on one foot and testing the steadiness of your gaze. After the police officer has administered these tests, he or she will decide if you seem impaired. If the officer decides you are likely intoxicated, he or she will probably ask you to take a breathalyzer test.
It is usually best to take the breathalyzer test
New Jersey is an implied consent state. When you receive your driver's license, you are consenting to take chemical tests as requested by an officer, to determine whether you have consumed alcohol or drugs. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test may have stiffer penalties than failing a breathalyzer test. It is generally better to take the breathalyzer test and then deal with the possible consequences later.
Getting a DUI in New Jersey can have serious consequences. If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, it is best to cooperate with the officer, but not offer too much information. The officer may decide to arrest you, and if you are arrested, you should consider reaching out to an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can walk you through your best options for a defense and help you minimize the impact of the charges.