It's the law-in New Jersey as well as 37 other states-police can set up sobriety checkpoints and seek to determine whether drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while behind the wheel. The provisions of the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, protecting citizens from unreasonable search and seizure, have limited application in these situations, as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the public interest in minimizing the number of drunk drivers on the roads outweighs the rights of citizens to be free from such actions. Accordingly, there's no requirement that police have probable cause to stop a driver in a sobriety checkpoint, but the officer must have reasonable suspicion of intoxication to ask the driver to participate in a field sobriety test, and must have additional probable cause to search a vehicle.
Under the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, citizens have a right to be free from "unreasonable search and seizure." This rule of law requires probable cause before a police officer may search you, your home or your vehicle, and requires probable cause for a law enforcement officer to make a traffic stop. So what about sobriety checkpoints, where police simply set up a roadblock and subject drivers to field sobriety blood alcohol tests. There doesn't seem to be any "probable cause" present in these situations. How does such an activity pass constitutional muster?
Field Sobriety Tests in New Jersey
When you have been pulled over by law enforcement officers, and they suspect that your blood alcohol level exceeds that allowed by law, a common method for identifying signs of intoxication is the field sobriety test. The field sobriety test can take a variety of forms, from walking a straight line to counting backward from a certain number.
When you are stopped for suspicion of drunk driving, you may be asked at some point to submit to a field sobriety test. You may be uncertain whether you have the right to refuse to take a field sobriety test or if there are consequences to a refusal. This blog post addresses these issues.
The consequences of a DWI conviction can be devastating. In addition to fines, penalties and even jail time, you will likely face higher motor vehicle insurance premiums, and can put your employment at risk. While the best way to avoid a DWI charge is to stay off the road when you have been drinking, there are other things you can do to reduce the risk you will be pulled over, or, if you are pulled over, that you will be arrested: