by Kristy Bruce, Esq.

The holiday season has officially begun. Therefore, the police are vigilant with those who may be Driving While Intoxicated. Despite your best efforts, a broken tail light gives the officer an excuse to stop you.

Being stopped by the police following a festive celebration can be a sobering experience. The best defense is to drink responsibly and use a designated driver. But, what if you have been drinking, not in excess, but drinking none the less? I suggest the following:

• Place your hands where the officer can see them.

• Be polite. Most police cars are equipped with in-car cameras. Act rudely and the state will show the judge the video.

• Do not volunteer information. Tell the officer that you would like to speak with an attorney before answering questions. Anything you say can be used against you in court. Do not explain where you were going or coming from, how many drinks you had, or make excuses for your driving.

• Have your license, insurance, and registration papers organized and easily accessible. Don’t reach for the glove box immediately. Wait until asked. If you fumble for your documents, it could be seen as a sign of impairment.

• When asked to take a breathalyzer (Alcotest), take the test since New Jersey law requires you to do so. Your attorney can later dispute the results. Refusing to take the test is against the law and will result in a loss of license.

• There is no requirement that you perform a Field Sobriety Test. However, refusal looks suspicious to the judge. If you suffer from a medical condition that could impact your ability to perform the test, tell the officer.

Police are keenly aware that December brings holiday celebrations. Their mission is to protect and serve. While it is important to understand the responsibility of our police officers, it is also important to understand the law and know your rights. If you are arrested, write down everything you can remember while it is fresh in your mind and hire an attorney as soon as possible.

The Rubinstein Law Firm believes no question should be left unanswered when it comes to understanding our legal system. Clip this article for a free consultation.

Kristy Bruce, Esq., is a partner at The Rubinstein Law Firm, LLC, 10 Rutgers Place in Trenton, NJ. For more information, call 609-392-7600 or log onto www.njpa-law.com.

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