Most drunk driving and drug cases here in the Gloucester County New Jersey area end up with either a conviction at trial or a pretrial guilty plea. This is because, upon review, the state's case is pretty solid; all of the evidence is there, the paperwork holds up, and there is little "reasonable doubt."
Although that is bad enough, what makes it worse is that the defendant oftentimes actually helps the police get the conviction! How can this happen? Simple. They answer "yes" to one or two key questions.
Have you been drinking?
This is a standard question in any drunk driving case. The police suspect you have, and they want you to help out by confirming it. Don't do it! Although there may be an issue as to whether a Miranda warning should precede such a question, it is still one that induces you to incriminate yourself. By saying "yes," you are basically testifying against yourself. You are confessing to drinking and driving!
So what do you do? Smile politely and say, "I am exercising my right to remain silent." This is a response to the question that asserts your rights and does not give away anything (other than the smell of alcohol on your breath, but that's a whole other problem!)
The officer might respond that you are not under arrest (only important as to whether he must read you your rights) or imply that if you haven't been drinking, you have nothing to hide, but stick to your guns. Repeat the response until he moves on.
Will you consent to a search of your vehicle?
Again, smile and politely respond, "No, I stand on my Fourth Amendment rights." You do not have an obligation to consent; if you did, they wouldn't bother to ask. The officer might respond that he can always get a warrant, implying that he will be able to search your car eventually, after you annoy him by forcing him to call a judge.
He might also say, "Why not, if you have nothing to hide?" Respond, "Because I stand on my Fourth Amendment rights." People tend to give in to the officer because he represents an authority figure and if they do not cooperate, they will be making things worse for themselves.
Don't let that get to you; stand on your rights! If you do not, then anything he finds as a result of that search can be used as evidence against you!
If you have been charged with drunk driving or a drug possession case here in southern New Jersey you need to speak with a lawyer. Feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule a consultation to talk about your case.
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