Many people dread seeing the flashing red and blue lights of a law enforcement patrol officer in their rear view mirror. Usually this means they ran a red light, rolled a stop sign, made an illegal lane change, or were caught speeding, and you’re going to have to face the dreaded traffic violation citation. However, did you know there are instances where you could be stopped by a patrol officer and find yourself arrested? It’s true: these particularly serious traffic offenses carry criminal consequences in addition to just the usual fine and points on your driving record.
On this blog, we’ll discuss four of the most common reasons you could be arrested after a seemingly-routine traffic stop in New Jersey.
Driving while intoxicated, or operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is the number one reason why police arrest people after a traffic stop, by a longshot. Driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is both extremely dangerous and highly illegal, meaning law enforcement are constantly on the lookout for those who may be endangering both themselves and those around them by not being completely in their right mind while behind the wheel.
Law enforcement don’t often make immediate arrests when they suspect you’re driving while under the influence, but they will usually ask you to step out of your vehicle, perform a field sobriety test or two, and then make an arrest if they can establish a legal standard known as “probable cause.” Officers have a zero-tolerance policy for intoxication behind the wheel: once they have a reasonable suspicion that you’re over the legal limits for intoxication, they’ll arrest you and take a blood or breath test. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to retain a Bergen County criminal defense attorney: the penalties for DWI are severe and will have a major impact on your life.
In New Jersey, the offense of “reckless driving” is essentially operating your vehicle in a way that intentionally endangers those around them through careless driving and abandoning your duty of care to protect others on the road with you. This can include things like excessive speeding, doing “burnouts,” drifting through corners, weaving in traffic, and other behaviors that dramatically increase the risk of an accident.
A first-offense for reckless driving could net you up to 60 days in a county or municipal jail, plus a fine between $50 and $200. Second offenses can land you up to 90 days and fines of anywhere from $100 to $500. Those convicted will also receive five points on their driving record. Bear in mind that if you have 12 or more points on your record at any one time, your license will be suspended.
Driving Without a License
You’re required to have a driver’s license in order to operate a vehicle on public roads in New Jersey. Failing to have a license and being found driving is subject to both being arrested and having your vehicle impounded. Those who drive without a license in New Jersey will face a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment for up to 60 days for a first offense. Furthermore, if they’re trying to get their license, they won’t be able to do so for at least six months.
This isn’t the same thing as driving but not having your license with you. In this case you are still a licensed driver, but you don’t have the card to prove it. This is why it’s good to make sure you at least carry a photo ID with you at all times and memorize your license number so an officer can look up your information in their computer system. While you may still have to pay a fine for not having your license on you, you’ll likely avoid being arrested.
Failure to Carry Insurance Coverage
Driving requires more than just a license issued by state of New Jersey: you’re also required to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance in order to provide some sort of a financial cushion to those on the roads with you in the event you cause an accident. For a first offense, you could face a fine of anywhere between $300 and $1,000, plus a period of community service and a one-year driving privilege suspension from the court. Second offenses carry a fine of up to $5,000, plus imprisonment for up to 14 days, community service, and a two-year driving privilege suspension. Furthermore, in pretty much every instance, your vehicle will be impounded and you won’t be able to get it back without having a valid proof of adequate insurance.Have you been arrested after a traffic stop? Call Brickfield & Donahue today at (201) 574-7919 to request a case evaluation!