As a New Jersey driver, being stopped at a driving while intoxicated (DWI) checkpoint can be a distressing experience, particularly if you had a couple of drinks. You may still be under the legal limit in terms of alcohol consumption, but your anxiety over the checkpoint stop may cause you to act differently than usual, potentially leading to a negative outcome.
DWI checkpoints are constitutional, so you cannot avoid them. However, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself if you are stopped at once.
Try to stay calm and follow the police officer’s instructions. A DWI checkpoint stop is like any other stop by police. The officer will likely ask to see your driver’s license and vehicle registration. Remain cooperative and provide these to the officer.
Give your name and address to the officer if asked. However, you are not required to provide the officer with any additional information. You do not have to tell them if you were drinking alcohol, what you were drinking or how much you were drinking.
This right also applies to non-alcohol-related questions. You do not have to tell the officer where you were coming from or where you are going. Aside from your name and address, it is best to say nothing.
Your words can be used against you
Anything you say to the officer can potentially be used as evidence against you if you are charged with a DWI. Even if you believe your statements are helping you or providing you with a defense, the stress of the situation may cause your words to come out wrong or be misinterpreted.
There is no perfect way to tell the officer that you will not answer any additional questions. You can try saying something simple like “no comment” or state that you do not wish to discuss anything else.
If the officer persists, request your driver’s license and registration back and ask if you are free to leave. The officer cannot detain you at the checkpoint or arrest you without evidence that you were driving while over the legal alcohol limit.
Being stopped at a DWI checkpoint can be an unpleasant experience. If you think your rights may have been violated, or were arrested at a checkpoint stop, a DWI attorney can help you explore options.