Probable Cause for a DWI Stop in New Jersey

East Rutherford Drunk Driving (DWI) Defense Attorneys 

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The attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm, with offices in Hackensack, New Jersey have been representing clients charged with alcohol-related offenses across the state for years. With extensive experience combating charges such as refusal to submit to a breath test, second offense DWI, and leaving the scene of an accident  in courts such as Hackensack, Central Bergen Municipal Court, and Edgewater, we have developed specifically-formulated defense strategies to address a host of driving under the influence offenses. For additional information about some of these strategies, view our DWI informational series on YouTube.

Travis J. Tormey, the firm’s founding partner, is one of a few New Jersey attorneys who is a certified Alcotest 7110 operator, the breath testing device used throughout the state to prosecute drunk driving cases. As such, Mr. Tormey understands the components of the machine, how it works, and can identify any issues with the functioning of the breath testing device. This knowledge and expertise can be used to attack the reliability of the breath test result in your case and may ultimately lead to the dismissal of your charges. To read just a few of our many DWI case wins, view our success stories page.

With offices conveniently located in Hackensack, in the heart of Bergen County, Mr. Tormey and his team of knowledgeable trial lawyers are available immediately to assist you at (201)-330-4979. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.

Probable Cause for a Traffic Stop in New Jersey

The first component of a drunk driving (DWI) case that must be examined is the probable cause for the initial traffic stop. According to New Jersey law, the police officer must have an articulable and reasonable suspicion that a violation of the traffic laws has occurred in order to effectuate a traffic stop. This is called the “probable cause” for the initial traffic stop. Some of the most common traffic violations which serve as probable cause for a DWI stop include:

  • Failure to Maintain Lane
  • Broken Headlight or Taillight
  • Obstructed View
  • Talking on a Cell Phone

If an officer has a reasonable and articulable suspicion that one of the above traffic violations occurred, this is probable cause for the initial stop. If the probable cause for the stop is baseless, then the entire case can be thrown out and dismissed based on the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. If the initial stop was illegal or flawed, then the entire case is considered flawed and should be dismissed.

DWI Checkpoints in New Jersey

One additional ground for the initial stop is a sobriety checkpoint or DWI checkpoint or roadblock. Drunk driving (DWI) checkpoints in New Jersey are constitutional if certain requirements are met. These sobriety checkpoints are allowed for public policy reasons if certain procedures are followed. According to State v. Moskal, 246 N.J. Super 12 (1991), a DWI checkpoint is valid if the location of the checkpoint is appropriate based on historical arrest rates at the location, public safety and awareness would be fostered by the checkpoint, there is participation in command and supervision, and notice of the checkpoint is published to provide motorists with notice. If these requirements are followed and met, the DWI checkpoint is valid and the initial traffic stop is lawful.

Call the Tormey Law Firm in Hackensack, NJ to Discuss Your DWI Case 

For additional information about your DWI charges in New Jersey, contact the offices of The Tormey Law Firm anytime at (201)-330-4979, or use our online contact form.


If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, disorderly persons offense, or traffic / DWI violation, you have the right to an attorney who will defend you against your charges and fight for your best interests. To learn more about how your attorney can fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced, click a link below to see our video library of legal defenses and strategies.