DWI Checkpoints in Union County NJ
January 17, 2019
Top Things to Know about DUI Checkpoints in Union, New Jersey
When you are heading home from a night out, wedding, party, or dinner, and you had a few drinks, the last thing you want to see are a line of orange caution cones and the flashing lights of multiple police cars signaling a DWI Checkpoint up ahead. If you ever find yourself in this situation, it is bound to be stressful and, therefore, it is wise to familiarize yourself about your constitutional rights at a DWI checkpoint before you find yourself behind the wheel, approaching those flashing lights. Below provides some need-to-know facts about DWI checkpoints in New Jersey. If you have already been arrested for drunk driving, call us now at (908) 838-0150 to speak with an experienced DWI defense lawyer in Union County. We defend clients in local courts in Mountainside, Cranford, Linden, Scotch Plains, Westfield, Summit, and New Providence on a regular basis. The consultation is always free and available 24/7.
Are NJ DWI Checkpoints Constitutional?
Yes. In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that DWI checkpoints were constitutional in Michigan Dept. Of State Police v. Sitz. The Court held that roadblocks or checkpoints do not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of motorists against unreasonable search and seizure, reasoning that the privacy intrusion on motorists is slight compared to the States’ interests in preventing drunk driving.
Do I have to Stop at a Sobriety Checkpoint?
If you are approaching a DWI checkpoint in New Jersey, it is not illegal to turn down a different road or even make a U-turn to avoid the checkpoint, if the traffic laws otherwise permit it. The police may not pull you over simply because you took another route or made a lawful U-turn, but they can pull you over if they observe you are swerving, driving erratically, or even if you have a brake light out or forgot to signal before turning.
What are the Rules for Police when Setting up a DUI Checkpoint?
The police are required to give the public notice of their plans to set up a DWI checkpoint before doing so. They are required to use information from DWI offense statistics to choose a location for the checkpoint, but the police need not give public notice of the exact location they choose.
The area must be well lit and there should be signs alerting drivers to the DWI checkpoint ahead. While the checkpoint is set up, the police may not pull people over at random, but must employ a neutral formula for stopping drivers. They may only stop drivers for a brief time to look for signs of intoxication and check their identification.
Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test for DWI?
The answer to this question is nuanced. Here’s why. You are not legally required to submit to a breathalyzer test at a DWI checkpoint. In other words, if an officer asks you to blow into a portable breath testing device on the side of the road, you are within your rights to refuse. While the police can still charge you with DWI if they have probable cause, based on other evidence, that you are driving with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit, you cannot be charged for refusing a breathalyzer at the DWI checkpoint. However, police can arrest you at the checkpoint, take you to the station, and then ask you for a breath sample. Once this happens, you cannot refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test without risking being charged with DWI refusal. Obviously, it can be difficult to know what to do and what your rights are if you find yourself in this situation and you haven’t read this article first.
Need a Lawyer for Drunk Driving Charges in Linden, Cranford, Scotch Plains, or another Union County Municipality?
If you or a loved one are facing DWI charges in New Jersey and you believe your constitutional rights may have been violated at a DWI checkpoint, contact our local law office in Cranford right away for a free consultation. If your rights were in fact violated, an experienced DWI defense lawyer should be able to get crucial evidence for the prosecution excluded from the court record, making it much more difficult and even impossible for the prosecution to prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Regardless of the circumstances of your drunk driving charge, you should find a lawyer who can effectively use all available defenses to work toward getting your charges dismissed. Call (908) 838-0150 or contact our NJ drunk driving attorneys online for more information.