If a police officer has pulled you over and starts asking you how many drinks you have had, you should expect that they will likely request you to submit to a Breathalyzer test. Breath tests have long been used to determine whether a driver’s blood alcohol concentration exceeds the legal limit of .08.
Am I allowed to refuse a breath test?
Under New Jersey’s implied consent laws, all licensed drivers are legally required to consent to a Breath test if an officer asks them to do so. Therefore, refusing the test has serious consequences.
It is important to remember that you may still be convicted of a DWI even if you do not submit to a breath test. The prosecutor handling your case will use other evidence, such as officer observations, to prove that you were intoxicated behind the wheel. In addition to DWI charges, you may also face a separate charge for refusing the breath test.
Under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4, if you refuse to take a breath test as a first-time offender, you may face the following consequences:
- Driver’s license suspension until you install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID).
- A fine of $300 to $500.
- IID in vehicle for 9-15 months.
- $100 fine to Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund and other fines.
- Requirement to attend classes at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.
Possible defenses to breath test refusal and DWI charges
There are several possible defenses to both breath test refusal and drunk driving charges. If you have refused a breath test, your attorney may argue that:
- The officer who stopped your vehicle lacked probable cause to pull you over.
- The officer who requested you to submit to the breath test had no probable cause to believe you were intoxicated.
- The officer failed to read you your rights.
If you submitted to the test, your attorney may question the results of the test by alleging that:
- The officer administered the test incorrectly or failed to follow proper procedures due to a lack of proper training.
- The officer failed to calibrate the testing device prior to administering the test.
- The test was administered a long time after the time of the stop.
If you are facing breath test refusal or DWI charges, it can be helpful to speak to an attorney as soon as possible following your arrest.