Can the Police Arrest Me for a Crime if They Pull Me Over for Speeding in NJ?
Posted by Scott Gorman - April 15, 2022

You got caught speeding in New Jersey. When you saw blue lights in your mirror, you knew exactly why the police were pulling you over. But, during your traffic stop, the officer got suspicious about something else; and, before you knew it, you were being arrested for a crime.

Is this legal? Essex County criminal defense attorney Scott Gorman explains:

Even If the Police Stop You for Speeding, They Can Arrest You for Another Crime

Generally speaking, the police can arrest you for another crime (or traffic offense, including DUI) if they pull you over for speeding. The fact that the police stopped you for speeding does not mean that they are restricted to giving you a speeding ticket. If the police observe evidence of other illegal activity during your traffic stop, they can book you for any offense prosecutable under New Jersey law.

Here are some common scenarios:

  • The Police Smell Alcohol or Marijuana – If the officer who pulls you over smells alcohol on your breath or marijuana in your vehicle, this can give the officer probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence. The officer can ask you to exit your vehicle, and you will be required to take the breathalyzer under New Jersey’s implied consent law.
  • The Police See Drug Paraphernalia or a Weapon in Plain View – If the police see drugs, drug paraphernalia or a weapon in your vehicle during a traffic stop, this can also justify a search and arrest. The police can use anything they observe in plain view against you without a warrant or prior probable cause.
  • The Police Find a Weapon or Drugs in Your Trunk – If the police have probable cause to search your vehicle (or if you consent to a search), anything they find during the search can be used to justify an arrest. For example, let’s say the police see a marijuana pipe in your center console. They use this as a basis to search your car, and they find an illegal gun in your trunk. Even though you got pulled over for speeding and the police were searching for drugs, they can still charge you with a weapons offense based on the illegal gun.

The Police Do Not Have Free Rein to Search You and Your Vehicle

Importantly, when the police pull you over for speeding, this does not give them free rein to search you and your vehicle. To conduct a search without a warrant (aside from observing items in plain view), the police must have either consent or probable cause. If the police racially profiled you or otherwise violated your constitutional rights, then any evidence they obtained after the violation may be inadmissible against you in court. You could have a variety of other defenses as well; and, as a result, you should speak with an Essex County criminal defense attorney regardless of whether you think you committed a crime.

Request a Free Consultation with an Essex County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you got charged with a crime during a traffic stop in New Jersey, we encourage you to contact us immediately for more information. Call 862-250-6201 or send us your contact information online to speak with Essex County criminal defense attorney Scott Gorman as soon as possible. We also have offices in Morristown. 

Published in Categories: Criminal Defense