When it comes to any aspect of New Jersey law, there are all types of doctrines. More than likely, you’ve heard something about the “plain view” doctrine. That said, what in the world is the “plain smell” doctrine? And, how does it apply to DUI/DWI cases?
The answer might appear somewhat obvious. As you might guess, both doctrines apply to warrantless searches. Here’s an example of how the plain view doctrine might apply to a motor vehicle stop.
You cascade through a stop sign, and the police pull you over. Yes, some refer to the short stop as a “New Jersey Stop.” However, if the officer suspects you of a motor vehicle violation, he or she has every reason to detain you.
All things considered, you’d rather not open up your glove box to offer over your registration and insurance card. The fact is that you know you’re hiding something else in there. As much as you try, you’re unable to block the policeman’s view.
The problem is that you have a gun tucked away within the glove box. Unfortunately, it’s right on top and not camouflaged at all. You’re shaky as you’re keenly aware of the potential consequences.
Since the gun is in plain view, the officer now has every reason to search your car. In this type of scenario, law enforcement agents don’t need to obtain a search warrant. For you, there’s a huge chance you’ll be arrested. After all, the cops will surely find that stash of illegal prescription drugs you intended to bring to a friend.
Take it a step further. Now that you get the concept of the plain view doctrine, it’s somewhat easy to understand the logic behind the plain smell doctrine.
Plain Smell Doctrine and DWI/DUI Cases
The plain smell doctrine operates under the same theory. Consider a case decided by the New Jersey Appellate Division last year. In that matter, the police stopped the defendant because he outfitted his car with tinted windows.
When local police officers pulled over the motorist, they smelled marijuana. They used the plain smell doctrine to justify their warrantless search of the vehicle. The cops discovered less than fifty grams of weed and charged the defendant with possession.
In presenting a legal defense, the accused attempted to suppress the evidence based on the way it was acquired. When the suppression request was denied, the defendant pled guilty.
From all appearances, the motorist had second thoughts about his plea. He appealed the case claiming that the police officer failed to establish probable cause and was therefore “not legally in the smelling area at the time he purportedly smelled contraband.”
The defendant based his assertion on the fact that the officer intruded in the vehicle. According to the policeman, he poked his head in the window to better hear the motorist. There was no indication that the law enforcement agent’s intent was to sniff for the smell of marijuana.
For the most part, marijuana lets off a recognizable smell. The same holds true for someone who imbibes alcoholic beverages in any quantity. Are either reasons that justify a warrantless search?
The short answer relies on the credibility of the officer who suspects something is wrong because of plain smell. Since the testimony represents a subjective opinion, it may be useful in a criminal defense.
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13:55 30 Oct 20
Dan represented me on a traffic violation in NJ, very professional and was easy to work with. Office staff was very attentive. Would highly recommend him...
I would highly recommend Beninato & Matrafajlo Attorneys at Law, LLC . They were recommended to me because I was in a car accident. I was told they go the extra mile for you and they sure did! I’m extremely happy with how they handled my case from day 1 til my case was resolved. The staff was very professional and I always got a response back promptly.
18:59 15 Sep 20
I would highly recommend Beninato & Matrafajlo Attorneys at Law, LLC. They were recommended to me because I was in a car accident. I was told they go the...
Dan and his team worked very hard to represent me during my car accident case. He has an outstanding reputation in the legal field and a great rapport with his clients. I would recommend everyone to him if you need a lawyer.
15:10 09 Sep 20
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14:24 19 Aug 20
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16:36 22 Jul 20
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23:25 16 Jul 20
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21:26 19 May 20
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14:50 29 Mar 20
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16:06 04 Mar 20
22:48 29 Feb 20
I was referred to Dan for a serious DUI which involved multiple tickets no injuries no accidents. Dan assured me that might case had some flaws he did not make any promises made me feel comfortable and put my worries at ease. Needless to say mycase was dismissed due to complications Dan brought forward in the court he fought hard for me and my family and my freedom at a very reasonable price I would consider this law firm one of the best for DUI cases in New Jersey I've sent many of my friends with similar cases to him not with all the success I had but very good results
Joseph A F.
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20:32 28 Feb 20
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19:20 27 Feb 20
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16:52 07 Feb 20
Thank you ....and your associate best lawyer in town GOD bless ...
00:16 30 Jan 20
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18:56 28 Jan 20
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15:21 28 Oct 19
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Dan is a lawyer you want on your side, he was on point , always working on strategies on my case. btw we won our case!!! When it matters to you call him. Thanks Again Beninato & Matrafajlo
22:11 16 Jul 19
Best Lawyer ever very professional flights to the very end To make sure his client is happy with the decision of a case
01:44 28 Jun 19
Dan is the best lawyer I have ever met he did not give up he said he was going to help me and that's definitely what he did I am grateful to have him as my attorney and I will highly recommend him to anyone looking for help p.s and everyone that works at the office is extremely professional polites and very nice and I thank you as well keep up the great work
10:54 20 May 19
Mr. Matrafajlo and his staff are both professional and kind. He went to court 5 times over 6+months fighting a traffic ticket that would of suspended my license and caused me thousands in fine and surcharges.It was dismissed with zero owed to the courts after proving DMV administrative discrepancies.Thank you so much for all your helpRenee
14:07 11 May 19
Mr. Matrafajlo and his staff are both professional and kind. He went to court 5 times over 6+months fighting a traffic ticket that would of suspended my...
First of all, I admired Dan for his understanding by putting himself on his clients shoes and fight for their best interest (outcome). For me, the definition of a great lawyer are those who "deliver" and he does.
16:22 03 Apr 19
I am writing this review almost a decade after the fact......Mr. Matrafajlo is an excellent attorney. He did everything in his power to help me out. I would recommend him to anyone that was in need of an attorney.
23:24 01 Mar 19
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20:43 18 Jan 19
I got a 3 point ticket for doing an unsafe turn. I ended up hiring Matrafajlo. He seemed pretty confident he can get the ticket reduced to obstruction of...
I would definitely recommend Dan and his team to friends and family. The staff was very knowledgeable and helpful every time I reached out with questions. Dan and Teresa aka the Dream Team!! Everyone went above and beyond for little ‘ol me! Job well done!!
18:29 07 Nov 18
Dan really went above and beyond for my case . I was wrongfully accused of reckless driving . He could of just told me to take first plea deal and been done with it . Instead he suggested I refuse . The prosecutor in turn ran us around for months refusing to budge. Dan was sted fast in his support for me and never wavered. What started as a reckless driving which is a criminal offense ended as an unsafe driving ( 0 point offense). All thanks to Dan's hard work and perseverance
23:13 16 Sep 18
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22:51 08 May 18
Dan Matrafajlo was fantastic. From the moment I hired him he handled everything from scheduling my court date to representing me with my traffic ticket. Literally, all I had to do was show up to court. He put me at ease throughout the whole process and had my fine reduced dramatically!!I highly recommend him.
A J S.
02:40 26 Apr 18
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Represented my mother when she had an accident, highly recommend him as an attorney
20:57 25 Mar 18
I don't know much about Beninato but I know a lot about Matrafajlo Danny Matrafajlo is very ambitious, smart, knowlegable, helpful lawyer I have ever know.Keep that way DannyHappy Thanksgiving to you and your family
Few months back, my husband had injured in a car accident. It seemed to be a small injury, but in fact it was brain injury and the truck who hit our car, ran away. We were so confused that how to survive and get compensation for brain injury. At that time, from my friend's reference, I got to know about Beninato & Matrafajlo Law, The firm handled our case very carefully and passionately, took the right steps for us and helped us in getting compensation.Thanks to Beninato & Matrafajlo Law!
05:42 26 Jul 17
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20:05 23 Jul 17
I was referred to Dan Mantrafajlo by a dear friend of my that I respect greatly. This friend said that Dan was the type of lawyer that made the hard work she was putting into law school worth it...I found this to be very true. Professional, hard working, informed and willing to go above and beyond. This is a real review from a real client.
08:12 20 Jul 17
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01:46 12 Jul 17
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Mr. Matrafajlo has represented me in a civil case where I was struck and injured by another vehicle.His professionalism and hard work truly made my experience seamless. There will be unpredictable measures that life throws at you, it always helps to have someone you trust by your side.I highly recommend Mr. Matrafajlo or anyone in this law firm to represent them if need be.-Zack
Dan is an excellent attorney. Unlike most attorneys Dan actually cares about your case. He went the extra mile and did countless hours of research to help me win my case.I'd give him 10 stars if I was able to.
14:44 31 Mar 15
I starting using Dan after a VERY bad experience with a previous attorney who took advantage of our family. Dan is a great lawyer and very competent. While he specializes in personal injury, he and his office staff proved themselves on multiple occasions to be more then competent in other areas of the law. He's quick to respond and always makes us feel like our case is his top priority. I have since referred him to multiple people and their experience has been a positive one as well. His rates are reasonable and he has no desire to drag things out, file extension after extension etc. and rack up my bill as our previous attorney did. We highly recommend Dan Matrafajilo Esq., as does everyone I know who have used his services before.
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