When driving in New Jersey, you are obligated to adhere to all state traffic laws and safety regulations. This means that, if you are from another state, you’ll want to research the laws of this state, ahead of time, since each state has its own guidelines. This state permits DUI checkpoints, and there are several things you should know about them.
DUI checkpoints, otherwise referred to as sobriety checkpoints, have been a topic of debate for quite some time, including in many legal circles. The U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue, stating that these checkpoints are not in violation of the U.S. Constitution at the federal level.
New Jersey police use DUI checkpoints every month
While some states have laws prohibiting DUI checkpoints, New Jersey not only allows them but uses them at least once or twice per month. A typical sobriety check requires approximately 10 to 15 police officers to be on site. If an officer stops you at a checkpoint and asks you to step out of your car, it is logical to assume that he or she suspects you of impairment.
A police officer can ask you to take a field sobriety test at a checkpoint
A police officer who thinks you have been driving under the influence of alcohol may ask you to take a field sobriety test, such as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, or to take a breath test at a checkpoint location. You are not obligated to comply with such requests. If you choose to do so, you can decline.
Making such a choice can have implications down the line, particularly if police wind up taking you into custody and you face DUI charges in court. While there are no penalties for refusing a preliminary breath test or field sobriety test, a prosecutor can (and will) inform the court that you refused to be tested during a checkpoint.
Refuting DUI charges in court
DUI checkpoints occur in New Jersey and many other states by making random traffic stops. Officers might stop every other car or every fifth or sixth car, etc., in which case you may or may not be one of the drivers they stop. If an officer stops you and arrests you on a DUI suspicion, you may refute the charges in court.
The ultimate outcome of your case depends on many factors, including but not limited to whether you have any DUI convictions on your criminal record. Whether it is the first time you have been charged with a crime or not, it is helpful to seek additional support from someone who can advocate on your behalf, which increases your chances of being able to obtain a positive outcome.