The first few minutes after you’ve been pulled over for a DWI are crucial to your defense. They may mean the difference between having your innocence proven and years of jail time, large fines and a suspended license. Unfortunately, many people who have been pulled over for DWI in New Jersey don’t know how best to deal with the situation and end up harming their own defense—even if they’re innocent!
First, use your turn signal and pull over calmly to the side of the road. Police will often use bad driving as a sign of DWI, even if the person was just flustered. Stay in the car, keep your hands on the wheel and wait for the police officer to approach the vehicle. Do not get out of the car or shuffle around looking for your driver’s license until told to do so. When requested, produce your driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration.
Act politely toward the officer: greet them courteously, smile, call them “sir,” say “thank you” and “please” when necessary. Don’t argue. An antagonized police officer is one who will testify far more strongly against you. Do not act like you have anything to hide or have done anything wrong. Stay calm; remember that the police are watching for signs of your intoxication.
You have the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment, which prevents you from giving evidence against yourself. If the police officer asks you if you’ve been drinking, if you think you’re drunk or if you had anything to drink, say that you are invoking your Fifth Amendment right not to speak without the presence of your New Jersey DWI lawyer. Do not discuss who you were with, where you were, what you did or whether you were drinking. Some people think admitting to one or two beers will make the police respect them for their honesty. This is wrong.
If the police officer asks you to take a chemical test, you are not allowed to refuse it according to New Jersey DWI law . If you refuse it, your license will automatically be suspended for seven months. However, don’t take any field sobriety tests, such as walking heel to toe or putting your finger to your nose: they are not required and not designed to help you.
Most importantly, call a skilled New Jersey DWI lawyer. A New Jersey DWI lawyer with experience can help protect your rights and craft the best defense to fit the facts of your case.