Most New Jersey drivers are aware that if they are pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, they can be asked to provide a blood or breath sample to determine the concentration of alcohol in their blood (BAC). What many drivers do not comprehend is the seriousness of a refusal to take either test.
What is “implied consent”?
Under New Jersey law, everyone who operates a motor vehicle on the state’s highways implicitly consents to submission to a blood or alcohol test if a police officer has probable cause to believe that the person was under the influence of alcohol at the time.
Refusal and its consequences
If a person refuses to submit to either a blood or alcohol test, they may be arrested and charged with an alcohol-related driving crime. More importantly, the person will be required to appear before a judicial officer to determine whether they were drunk at the time of the arrest.
If it is established that the person was intoxicated, that is, with a BAC greater than 0.08%, the person’s driving privileges can be revoked for a minimum of 3 months for a first offense. If a person has received a previous conviction for DWI, the revocation can last for 10 years.
Different lawyers give differing advice on the wisdom of refusing an implied consent breath or blood test. Some recommend refusing the test, some recommend submitting to the test. Most experienced DWI attorneys understand that the devices used to measure BAC are not 100% reliable and that their accuracy can often be successfully challenged at trial.
Sound legal advice
A person who has been stopped on suspicion of DWI is already in serious legal difficulty. If possible, a person who has been pulled over should ask for permission to contact a knowledgeable defense attorney and to seek advice on agreeing to take either test. The results of the implied test can be used in court if the case goes to trial, and anyone facing such charges may want to retain a knowledgeable defense attorney to evaluate the evidence and to suggest appropriate defense strategies.