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Ken is a NJ trial attorney who has published 130 articles in national and New Jersey publications on litigation topics. He has been selected to write the new ABA book: DUI and Drug Possession Defense".

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Are pretextual stops for tinted windows valid?

     Are pretextual stops for tinted windows valid?
   Usually- Police could stop for tinted windows.  State v. Cohen 347 NJ Super. 375 (App. Div. 2002)    Defendant appealed the Law Division's affirmance of the municipal court's denial of a motion to suppress, which found that a stop of defendant's vehicle was justified based on the officer's reasonable belief that tinted windows constituted a violation of a motor vehicle statute.  We affirmed, holding that N.J.S.A. 39:3-74 prohibits the use of tinted windows that fail to meet the applicable standard set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:20-33.7, Thereby overruling State v. Harrison, 236 N.J. Super. 69 (Law Div. 1989), and In re R.M. and J.M., 343 N.J. Super. 153 (Ch. Div. 2001).   Further, an automobile stop is proper so long as it is based on a reasonable, articulable suspicion that a violation has occurred, and the officer's belief that the tinted windows represented a significant obstruction was sufficient to implicate the "community caretaking" function. Lastly, N.J.S.A. 39:3-15, which exempts non-resident owners of vehicles registered in other states from complying with New Jersey equipment requirements, does not preclude an officer from conducting an identification check of a noncompliance vehicle.
39:3-74.  Windshields must be unobstructed and equipped with cleaners
    Every motor vehicle having a windshield shall be equipped with at least one  device in good working order for cleaning rain, snow or other moisture from the  windshield so as to provide clear vision for the driver, and all such devices  shall be so constructed and installed as to be operated or controlled by the  driver.

    No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster, sticker or other non-transparent material upon the front windshield, wings, deflectors, side shields, corner lights adjoining windshield or front side windows of such vehicle other than a certificate or other article required to be so displayed by statute or by regulations of the commissioner.

    No person shall drive any vehicle so constructed, equipped or loaded as to unduly interfere with the driver's vision to the front and to the sides.