In New Jersey, a DUI arrest carries the potential for substantial fines, jail time, loss of your driving privileges, and other penalties. As a result, you need to be extremely careful about what you do, and you need to be sure that you effectively assert your legal rights. One of these legal rights is the right to remain silent. Regardless of what the police say (or don’t say) during your arrest, you do not have to say anything that could potentially support a finding of guilt, and you do not have to submit to (and risk “failing”) the field sobriety tests (FSTs).
When Do You Have the Right to Remain Silent?
In New Jersey, you have the right to remain silent from the moment the police pull you over. Under no circumstances are you ever required to say anything that could possibly be used against you in court. You must identify yourself when asked; but, otherwise, you do not have to answer any questions during your DUI traffic stop or arrest.
How Do You Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent?
To exercise your right to remain silent, you can simply say, “I am choosing to exercise my right to remain silent,” or something similar. There are no “magic words” you need to say, and you do not have to wait until the arresting officer reads your Miranda rights. Once you state that you are exercising your right to remain silent, you should stick to it. Even if the arresting officer continues to ask you questions, you do not have an obligation to answer—and if you do, anything you say can still be used against you.
What if the Arresting Officer Didn’t Read Your Miranda Rights?
By law, the police are required to read your Miranda rights before conducting a “custodial interrogation.” If you are interrogated in custody without being read your rights, this can potentially have significant implications for your New Jersey DUI case. If the police fail to read your rights as required by law, then any statements you make in response to a custodial interrogation may be inadmissible in court. If your statements are the prosecution’s primary evidence against you, having your statements “suppressed” could be enough to avoid a DUI conviction.
What about Submitting to a Breath Test?
While you are not required to answer questions (or submit to the FSTs) during or after a DUI traffic stop in New Jersey, you are required to submit to a breath test. This is based on New Jersey’s “implied consent” law. If you violate New Jersey’s implied consent law by refusing to submit to a breath test, then not only can your refusal be used as evidence against you, but it can support a separate charge for a DUI refusal as well. In fact, although difficult, it is much easier to defend a DUI charge than a refusal charge. A refusal conviction will definitely result in a suspension of your driving privileges. It is almost never a good idea to refuse to take the breathalyzer case for any reason.
Speak with a New Jersey DUI Defense Lawyer in Confidence
Are you facing a DUI charge in New Jersey? If so, we encourage you to speak with one of our lawyers about how we can use your legal rights to protect you. To schedule a confidential initial consultation as soon as possible, call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online now.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive criminal defense experience as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our website, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.