Our law firm recently represented a client charged with possession of marijuana in Little Silver, New Jersey. The client was stopped for an alleged traffic violation for maintenance of lamps. The police officer pulled over our client for his third brake light being out, the brake light that sits in the center of the back of the vehicle in the back window. This alleged traffic violation was the probable cause for the traffic stop which led to the marijuana being found. The officer cited our client for a violation of N.J.S. 39:3-66, maintenance of lamps. This statute states that all required lamps be kept in good working order. This statute must be read in conjunction with N.J.S. 39:3-61 which details which lamps are required on a particular vehicle. According to N.J.S. 39:3-61, a vehicle must only have two working brake lights, located on the rear right and left of the vehicle. As a result, the third brake light being out is not a violation of N.J.S. 39:3-66 and the probable cause for the original traffic stop was not sound.
Based on this issue, our firm filed a motion to suppress the illegally seized evidence based on the lack of probable cause for the traffic stop. This motion was granted and the criminal and traffic charges, including possession of marijuana, were dismissed against our client.