Detainment After Exiting a Vehicle During a Traffic Stop

  • Dan T. Matrafajlo
  • Mon Dec 2023
  • DWI,
  • 0
dwi lawyer new jersey

A traffic stop should never be discriminatory or harassing. You have certain rights when pulled over by law enforcement during a traffic stop  in New Jersey. One of these rights pertain to any detainment. The police officer who pulls you over must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you are involved in criminal or unlawful activity beyond that which initially justified the stop.

State v. Bernokeits – Appellate Court Decision for DWI Cases in New Jersey

A 2011 decision from New Jersey Appellate Courts raises important issues for drunk driving defendants in many cases in the state.  The Bernokeits decision recognizes a constitutional requirement that involves every motorist instructed by law enforcement to perform field sobriety tests after traffic stops. These tests are designed to determine the probable cause of a driver’s possible intoxication.

This case recognizes a standard that limits the authority of law enforcement to require a motorist to perform any of these field sobriety tests (FST) during a drunk driving investigation. The Bernokeits court held that if FSTs are administered and your New Jersey drunk driving attorney later challenges these tests by way of a written Motion to Suppress, the prosecution must show by a preponderance of evidence that there was a “reasonable and articulable suspicion” that the driver was intoxicated, before these tests can be administered.” 

The results of this principle are significant because if the State cannot meet this standard, it will result in suppression of evidence of intoxication subsequently acquired. In other words, the State will be barred from using evidence of possible intoxication in its case against you. Your attorney’s ability to successfully exclude this evidence would prevent the prosecution from meeting its burden of ultimately proving your guilt.

How Can a NJ Traffic Stop Result in Criminal Charges?

In some instances, a traffic stop can result in criminal charges. The police only need a suspicion that an infraction or crime has been committed to do a traffic stop. Under New Jersey law, law enforcement can pull you over for a traffic stop if they witness you violating the laws of the road or if they have observed you engaging in dangerous behavior that led to further unlawful conduct, such as driving under the influence of a controlled substance. 

Legal behavior can also lead an officer to become suspicious if you seem nervous, sweating, or unclear about answering questions. If charged, the judge will have to determine whether the officer’s search was reasonable based on the evidence the officer had and their experience with that situation.

Call a New Jersey Driver’s Drunk Driving Defense Attorney Today

If you or someone you know has is facing drunk driving charges and wants to avoid a conviction, an experienced attorney can help. 

Call Beninato & Matrafajlo Attorneys at Law, LLC at 908-248-4404 to schedule a free, complimentary consultation with our legal team today to see how we can help you fight your ticket.

Dan T. Matrafajlo

Dan T. Matrafajlo

NJ State Bar: #031722003

Dan T. Matrafajlo, Esq., is the managing member and lead partner at Beninato and Matrafajlo, Attorneys at Law, LLC. Renowned for groundbreaking contributions to personal injury law, he has set legal precedents with influential Appellate decisions and garnered recognition in the New Jersey Law Journal. A consistent honoree on Super Lawyers' Rising Star list for the past five years, Matrafajlo's litigation prowess is widely acknowledged. He has won various awards like Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters Association 2019, and Nominated into Super Lawyers as a Rising Star from 2012 until the Present.

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