If you’re reading this, you may be facing drug Fees resulting from a traffic obstruction. You are wondering whether you have been the victim of an illegal traffic obstruction and whether or not it was actually legal to find you. These are good questions and we will do our best to explain this common, yet complicated, situation.
Does that sound familiar?
You have left a friend’s house and are driving home one night. You take the same route that you have ridden countless times. You stick to the speed limit, obey all traffic signals and use your turn signals accordingly.
The next thing you know is a patrol car behind you and lights you up. You hear the siren and stop. The cop approaches your car, asks for your ID and tells you that your car smells like weed. He tells you to get out of your car and continues to search it. He finds a blunt in your center console and arrests you for possession of marijuana.
You quickly learn that New Jersey police officers need only one likely reason to search your car. This means they don’t need an arrest warrant or your search consent as long as they have a “probable reason” to believe that a crime has been committed or that a crime is ongoing. (State versus Witt 223 NJ 409)
So what remains to be done? If New Jersey law says the cop can search your car and look for and find drugs, then how can you win your drug charge case?
The answer is to start at the beginning. Let’s go back to the beginning: the illegal traffic stop.