There are a lot of steps in a DWI case leading up to a conviction. Every DWI case begins with the initial roadside stop by an officer. Even if you’re arrested, your DWI charge can be dismissed if you were unlawfully stopped. For any evidence collected during a traffic stop, strict procedure must be abided by in order to use the evidence in court.
There are two types stops that can result in a DWI, a checkpoint and a probable cause stop.
Police roadblocks and checkpoints are becoming increasingly popular in New Jersey for catching drunk drivers. If you have been charged with a DWI as a result of a checkpoint, there’s a good chance you an experienced attorney can have your charges dropped. Cases involving these stops are often dismissed due to complications regarding the Fourth Amendment – the protection from unlawful searches and seizures. Any violation of your Fourth Amendment rights during a checkpoint can be used to drop your DWI charge.
Police checkpoints are a rare exception in which an officer does not need probable cause to stop your vehicle. To protect your rights, however, there are specific conditions that must be met in order to ensure the legality of the checkpoint. For example, there must be advanced warning to the public about the roadblock, the checkpoint must meet safety expectations, and the time/location must have a rational reasoning. If the requirements for the checkpoint were not met, the stop can be considered unconstitutional and lead to a dismissal of your DWI charges.
Even if the initial stop was legal, the investigation that led to your DWI may not have been. Although the officer does not need probable cause to stop your vehicle, they do need probable cause to turn a routine stop into a prolonged investigation and to detain you. This means that if the officer does not find any reasonable indication you were driving under the influence, then any investigation can be challenged in court.
Although the Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures, officers have plenty of legal reasons to pull you over while driving. If the officer finds that you have been speeding, have a broken taillight, or have been driving erratically, then they would have a lawful basis to pull you over. The officer is allowed to ask you questions to determine if you have been drinking. If your answers alongside any other factors such as alcohol sitting in your car or slurred speech, the officer can begin investigating you for a DWI and proceed with a field sobriety test.
Whether or not you pass the field sobriety test, the outcome of the case can depend on the legality of the traffic stop. If no probable cause was stated or found in the police report, it’s possible to have your DWI charges dropped. Here at the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq., we have a team of experienced attorneys who work aggressively to find flaws in the investigation and have your DWI charges reduced or dismissed.