New Jersey DWI Attorney John Menzel

Drunk Driving Arrest

Drunk driving detentions –whether during a motor vehicle stop, investigation at the scene, or subsequent arrest – are unlike other motor vehicle stops and criminal investigations in many ways. While you still have certain basic rights under both the United States and New Jersey constitutions, you also have certain statutory obligations. Often, in acting on what one believes to be their constitutional rights, people fail in these statutory obligations. This confusion usually hurts the defendant’s tactical options and can lead to an innocent person being unjustly convicted.

Knowing what you can and cannot do when police confront you is important, not just to help the guilty avoid punishment, but to protect the innocent from injustice. To learn more, click on these topics:







Your Constitutional Rights

Silence. You have a right to remain silent because anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Exercise that right! Never tell police whether you drank alcohol, what you had to drink, or when you drank.

Lawyer. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with you during questioning. If you are indigent and cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint a lawyer to represent you, provided you pay a fee of up to $200 to the court.

Security. You have a right to be secure in your person, houses, papers, and effects (including your body and your car) against unreasonable searches and seizures. You do not and should not get out of your car unless police order you to do so. You do not have to get out of your car if police merely request or invite you to get out.

Your Statutory Obligations

Pull Over. If a police officer signals you to stop your car, you must do so at the nearest safe spot. If you fail to do this, police can charge you with various offenses and crimes, including eluding and obstructing the administration of a law enforcement function.

Stay at the Scene of an Accident. If you are involved in an accident, stay at the scene. If you leave the scene and are caught, police d failure to report an accident, among other things.

Produce Driving Credentials. If a police officer asks to see your driving credentials, you must produce a driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance identification card. If you do not do these things, you can be charged with various offenses, including (from least serious to most serious):

  • failure to have a driving credential in your possession when required
  • driving an unregistered vehicle
  • driving while unlicensed
  • driving while your privileges are suspended or revoked
  • driving without insurance.

Submit Breath Samples. Refusing to submit breath samples can lead to consequences almost as serious as, and sometimes more serious than, a drunk driving conviction. It also places you at a terrible tactical disadvantage when dealing with the prosecutor in municipal court. You should almost always submit breath samples when police ask after arrest.

Dos and Don’ts When Stopped for Drunk Driving


  • Have your driver’s license, registration, and insurance card ready for police.
  • Submit to a “pat down” search, handcuffing, and arrest.
  • Ask for a lawyer.
  • Be polite, but…


  • Answer police questions.
  • Volunteer information or engage in small talk.
  • Lie.
  • Perform balance tests.
  • Consent to police searching your car.
  • Sign anything.

Dos and Don’ts When Arrested for Drunk Driving


  • Ask for a lawyer again.
  • Give breath samples.
  • Submit to fingerprinting.
  • Go to a hospital or doctor as soon as you are released.
  • Insist that the hospital or doctor test your blood for ethanol content.
  • Hire competent lawyer.


  • Answer police questions.
  • Volunteer information or engage in small talk.
  • Perform balance tests.
  • Consent to blood or urine tests.
  • Sign anything.
John Menzel, J.D.

Learn your options - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (732) 218-9090

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