Totowa NJ DWI Defense Lawyer: Explaining Probable Cause for a DWI Stop
DWI Defense Attorney Representing Clients in Passaic County, New Jersey
If you’ve been charged with a DWI in New Jersey, you could lose your driver’s license and possibly even end up in jail. Alissa D. Hascup is an experienced criminal and DWI defense lawyer who is dedicated to criminal and DWI defense. She has successfully defended thousands of clients, including clients charged with alcohol-related offenses such as first offense DWI and refusal to submit to a breath test throughout New Jersey, including in Wayne, Passaic, Paterson, and Ringwood. Ms. Hascup also has extensive experience as both a DWI prosecutor and a DWI defense attorney.
As a former DWI prosecutor, Ms. Hascup has a major advantage in the courtroom because she understands how the other side thinks.
Contact Ms. Hascup today for a free consultation about your DWI case. Please feel free to keep reading this page for more information about probable cause for a DWI stop in New Jersey.
Probable Cause for a Traffic Stop in New Jersey
After making a traffic stop in New Jersey, a police officer may request that the driver submit to a breath test. Of course, failing or refusing to take the breath test can lead to serious DWI penalties. However, the results of the breath test can be thrown out in court if the officer lacked probable cause for the initial traffic stop. According to New Jersey law, in order to effectuate a traffic stop, a police officer must have “articulable and reasonable suspicion” that a violation of traffic laws has occurred. This means that the officer must have probable cause to suspect that the driver has committed a traffic violation. In the case of United States v. Cortez, the United States Supreme Court said that the test for the existence of reasonable and articulable suspicion should be based on whether the officer had a specific and objective basis for suspecting the particular driver of having committed a traffic violation.
There are many traffic violations that can serve as probable cause for a traffic stop. Some of the most common traffic violations that trigger a traffic stop and lead to a DWI arrest include:
- Broken headlight or taillight.
- Leaving the scene of an accident.
- Driving with a suspended license.
- Driver talking on his or her cell phone.
- Failure to maintain lane.
If an officer has articulable and reasonable suspicion that a driver has committed one of these traffic violations, this constitutes probable cause for a traffic stop. Without probable cause for the initial stop, the entire case – including all evidence obtained during the traffic stop – can be thrown out and dismissed under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. This means that if the source of the evidence – the traffic stop – is tainted, then all evidence obtained from the source is also tainted. In a DWI case, if your attorney can prove that the officer lacked probable cause for the initial traffic stop, then you should be able to get the evidence against the driver thrown out in court.
One exception to the “reasonable and articulable suspicion” requirement for a police officer making a traffic stop is a DWI checkpoint or roadblock. In New Jersey, DWI checkpoints are valid, so long as certain requirements are met: the location must be appropriate based on historical arrest rates in the area, certain command and supervision protocols must be met, and motorists must be provided with notice of the checkpoint. If the police failed to meet any of these requirements when implementing the DWI checkpoint, the initial traffic stop was probably not lawful and, as a result, your attorney may be able to get the evidence against you thrown out in court.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Totowa NJ DWI Attorney
If you have questions about your DWI arrest, call or email Alissa Hascup today. She will review the evidence in your case and determine if the police had probable cause for the initial traffic stop.