This post as been prepared as a public service to the People by the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, serving all the State of New Jersey.
N.J.S.A. 39:3-60 requires that any motor vehicle being driven at night on the road must dim its high beam lights upon the approach of oncoming vehicles. In this case the patrol officer was parked on the side of road when he gave pursuit for a motorist failing to dim its lights.
The appellate division in State v. Witt held that the police officer did not have probable cause to stop the vehicle because the patrol vehicle was parked on the side of the road and not traveling directly into the vehicle, which failed to dim its high beam lights.
In this case Mr. Witt was arrested for DWI when he allegedly failed field sobriety tests. Arrested and handcuffed in the back seat of the patrol vehicle, the patrolman decided to do a warrantless search of the vehicle in search of an open container. In searching the vehicle the officer found a handgun.
The appellate division held that under well established case law, State v. Pena-Flores, 198 N.J. 6 (2009), there were no exigent circumstances which permitted the search without a warrant, and that even if there were, the officer did not have probable cause to stop the automobile in the first place because Mr. Witt did not violate the high beam motor vehicle law.
Before you plead guilty to a crime in which an automobile was involved and a warrantless search was conducted you must consult an experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, to consult you as to whether you have a viable Fourth Amendment motion to suppress the evidence that might have been unlawfully seized.
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