Suppose you are driving on a public road in New Jersey and have a New Jersey driver’s license. In that case, you have already given your permission to take a breathalyzer if you are pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. The Implied Consent Law in New Jersey means that it is assumed you will take a breath test if requested by a police officer. A person has consented to a lawful stop and submitting to a breath test for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) by simply driving.

Legal Ramifications of Declining Sobriety Testing in NJ

Giving an ambiguous response, placing conditions on your willingness to take the test, not answering the officer when they ask if you will take the test, or an outright refusal are all seen as an unwillingness to cooperate and submit a sample to test the level of alcohol in your bloodstream. A refusal of any kind can lead to charges of refusal to take a breath test, also known as a DWI refusal offense. Additional charges can be added depending on the situation.

Balancing Rights and Responsibilities Through New Jersey’s Implied Consent Law

The purpose of the Implied Consent Law is to protect citizens from drivers who may be under the influence. It does not take away anyone’s right to refuse, but there are consequences for refusing. The Implied Consent Law does not allow the police to take a sample by force. The driver must give their consent and participate willingly in the testing. While some may see the law as an infringement on their rights, driving is considered a privilege, not a right, and legal conditions can be placed on it. This law is designed to protect as many people as possible from the hazards that drivers who are under the influence can cause.

Understanding NJ Traffic Stop Protocols and Implied Consent

Here is a look at the common scenario preceding a DWI refusal charge. The police signaled the driver to pull over. The driver pulls out of the traffic flow to the side of the road. The officer approaches the car, assessing the driver and passengers in the car. The driver is asked to present their license, registration, and proof of insurance. The officer briefly interviews the driver, looking for slurred speech or a strong smell of alcohol. If the officer deems it necessary, they will ask the driver to get out of the car to perform field sobriety tests. Based on the officer’s observations, performance on field sobriety tests, and other relevant factors such as the driver’s operation of the vehicle prior to the stop, the officer may arrest the driver and take them back to the police station for further testing.

Before any breath test is administered, a police officer reads a statement requesting the consent of the driver for the test. The officer will read another statement to seek consent if the driver’s answer is unclear. If the driver gives their consent, two breathalyzer tests will be given. If the driver does not give their consent, they will be charged with refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test.

What Constitutes a Violation of NJ Implied Consent Requirements?

Giving weak samples, giving an insufficient sample, attempting to delay or avoid a breath test, and not responding at all to the officer’s request are considered actions of refusal to take a breathalyzer test.

Consequences of an Implied Consent Law Violation in NJ

Those who refuse to take a breathalyzer test when in custody at the police station can be charged with refusal and DWI/DUI. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test is another offense apart from the DUI/DWI charge. Refusing a test can result in a fine of up to $500, a $1000 surcharge each year for three years, being required to have an ignition interlock device that conducts a breathalyzer test before the car starts for anywhere from 9 to 15 months, a minimum of 12 hours at an Intoxicated Driving Resource Center (IDRC) and a mandatory education fee of $230.

A second refusal could result in a 1 to 2-year license suspension, up to $1000 in fines, a $1,000 surcharge each year for 3 years, a minimum of 12 hours of mandatory education at IDRC, an education fee of $230 per day, and installation of an Ignition Interlock Device during the suspension, as well as between 2 and 4 years post-license reinstatement.

Third and subsequent refusals can result in a 8-year license suspension, installation of an Ignition interlock Device during the suspension and for between 2 and 4 years after the driver’s license has been reinstated, $1,000 fine, a surcharge of $1500 each year for three years, a minimum of 12 hours at an IDRC, and an education fee of $230 per day.

Having a suspended license can have a detrimental effect on someone’s life. Relying on others for rides back and forth to work or to run errands and using public transportation can throw a wrench into the works. Choosing to drive with a suspended license can put you in more hot water, with fines, an extension of your suspension, a license revocation, and jail time.

Possible Legal Options to Contest Refusal Charges in NJ

There are elements of refusal offense cases that can be challenged. If the arresting officer had not read the statements required regarding the test, the driver’s rights may have been violated. If the driver was pulled over illegally, an attorney can potentially challenge if there was probable cause for the traffic stop. With regard to breath testing itself, a knowledgeable and trained DWI defense lawyer can challenge the calibration of the breathalyzer or its operation if either were flawed. There could be medical reasons for refusing a test, such as emphysema, severe asthma, or other pulmonary problems. It is also required that the person be read the refusal form in their native language if they do not speak English. These and many others may be effective defenses based on a talented DWI attorney’s examination of the evidence.

Get An Experienced New Jersey DWI Defense Lawyer to Protect Your Rights when Charged with a Refusal Offense

If you have been pulled over on suspicion of DWI/DUI and charged with refusing to take a breathalyzer test in New Jersey, you need superior legal representation. This is not something you should do alone, nor should your fate be left in the hands of someone who doesn’t have the knowledge and experience needed to represent you best.

Our seasoned DWI attorneys will create a strategy that conforms to the evidence, our decades of experience with DWI case analysis, training and credentials with New Jersey breath testing protocols, and a commitment to reaching the optimal results for our clients in East Hanover, Mount Olive, Chatham, Florham Park, Parsippany, Morristown, and throughout New Jersey. We know how stressful these situations can be. We have succeeded countless times for our clients with an aggressive defense.

If you or someone you know is facing DWI/DUI or related refusal charges in NJ, call us for a consultation. If you are ready to converse with us now, feel free to dial 973-524-7238 or connect with us online to arrange a completely cost-free consultation.