As you read this, you may face a challenge drug Fees resulting from a traffic disruption. You wonder whether you were the victim of an illegal traffic obstruction and whether the search for you was actually legal or not. These are good questions and we will do our best to explain this common, yet complicated situation.
Does that sound familiar?
You left a friend's house and are driving home one night. You are driving the same route that you have driven countless times. You stick to the speed limit, stick to 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 policeman approaches your car, asks for your ID and tells you that your car smells of grass. He tells you to get out of your car and continues to search it. He finds a stump in your center console and arrests you for marijuana possession.
You quickly learn that police officers in New Jersey only need a probable reason to search your car. This means that they do not need a warrant or your consent to search as long as they have "probable reason" to believe that a crime has been committed or that a crime is ongoing. (State v Witt 223 NJ 409)
So what remains to be done? If the New Jersey law states that the cop can search your car and find and find drugs, how can you win your drug accusation case?
The answer is to start from the beginning. Let's go back to the beginning: the illegal traffic stop.