Our vehicles are more than a luxury; they are a necessity. For many people, having a car is required to handle everyday chores, commute to work, and drop and pick up the kids at school, among other things. Almost nobody expects to be followed closely by police officers on the road. However, police officers can perform random investigations and run your plates on their database. You may wonder whether they can legally perform such check-ups. Our Atlantic City traffic ticket lawyers invite you to keep reading as we discuss the reasons police officers can run your license plates in New Jersey.
Is It Legal for the Police to Run My License Plate?
If you are driving through New Jersey to run some errands, it is possible for police officers to run your license plate without prior notice or your express consent. At this point, you may wonder if police officers are authorized to run your license plate at any given moment. While you may feel you have a certain expectancy of privacy in your car, the truth is that police officers are authorized to run your license plate.
This is due to the fact you hold no expectation of privacy over your license plates, as they are regularly exposed to everyone around you any time you hit the road. In other words, police officers do not need to have probable or reasonable cause to run your plates. However, police officers can run your plates in the pursuit of truth and justice.
There are certain limitations on running a person’s license plate number, however. This means police officers cannot use their database to look for information other than that related to your vehicle’s plates. For instance, police officers can run your plate to verify that the car belongs to you, or that your vehicle is not prohibited from running on the streets of New Jersey. In these situations, an officer can not only run your plates, but he or she can also intervene if they find out your car is involved in some sort of illegal activity.
Officers are also prohibited from running your plates to engage in racial profiling. Essentially, an officer cannot run your plates based on the color of your skin, your looks, your country of origin, and any other features protected by the United States Constitution.
Furthermore, officers cannot access their database to look for your personal information, as it would be in clear violation of your rights as a private citizen. Usually, police officers can only access essential information related to the car and the car’s registration. However, your personal data can be obtained if you are found in violation of important transit rules or are otherwise unlicensed or prohibited from driving in New Jersey.
Will Police Officers Pull Me Over and Arrest Me After Running My Plates?
Police officers can pull you over and possibly arrest you after running your plates. However, whether police officers detain you will depend on your specific circumstances. For instance, police officers can perform an arrest if they catch you driving a stolen vehicle. Additionally, they may find out that you had your license suspended and proceed to pull you over. Things can become complicated for you if, after pulling you over, they discover you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. New Jersey has very stringent laws against drunk driving, and if you are convicted of this crime, you may face harsh penalties including the suspension of your driver’s license.
However, there are ways you can fight your DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol) charges. For instance, you can raise an argument related to the legality of your detention or the reliability of procedures such as field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests. For instance, breathalyzers need to be updated and fully functional. If one of these devices has not been serviced in a long time, they may not yield accurate results during a test performed by police officers. These incorrect results can be challenged in court.
If the evidence presented by the police is the result of a defective breathalyzer, your charges may be dismissed. It is always in your best interests to be represented by a skilled, knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who can help you defend yourself against these types of charges.
Criminal Defense Attorney Offering Free Consultations in New Jersey
If you or a loved one was pulled over by the police after running your plates and is facing criminal charges, we can help. For years, we have been fighting aggressively and strategically to uphold and defend the rights of defendants. The New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Zarych know how important it is to protect your freedom, and we will fight tirelessly to place you on the path toward a favorable outcome. To discuss your specific case in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (609) 445-3728.