Throughout the United States, driving is a privilege and not a right. Because of this important distinction, New Jersey requires that you agree to some important conditions before granting you the privilege of driving on its roads. Known as implied consent, New Jersey drivers essentially consent to DUI breath testing only when the police suspect you of DWI/DUI. This may not seem fair since many of you would like to make that decision in the moment rather than having to say yes when you first got your license, but such is the reality of driving anywhere on public roads in New Jersey.
The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit while driving in New Jersey is .08. To arrive at this number, police will typically perform a breath or chemical test. New Jersey’s breath test is commonly referred to as an Alcotest. N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.3 outlines the necessary training and reporting procedures that must be in place for the two collected readings the Breathalyzer produces to be considered valid and reliable evidence in the eyes of the court. N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4(a) outlines the strict punishments attached to a refused Alcotest, which include:
- First offense: license suspension between seven months and one year; $300 to $500 fine and annual surcharges
- Second offense: license suspension of two years; $500 to $1,000 fine and annual surcharges
- Third offense: possible license suspension of 10 years; $1,000 fine and annual surcharges
- Refusal in school zone offenses: double all of the above penalties for first through third offenses
As you can see, refusal can carry serious punishments. The punishments listed above are enhanced when the refusal takes place after you are suspected of a DWI in a school zone. Under New Jersey law, even if you are not found guilty of the DWI charge against you, you will still face penalties for your failure to submit to a breath test if the state proves the necessary elements. There are many viable defenses to both charges in these cases; do not simply accept the charges against you. Was the standard statement form properly read to you? Was there any communication barrier between you and the officer? Were you confused? Have you had your hearing tested? Did you agree to consent to breath testing and then give “short samples”? Cases when an Alcotest has been refused can be complicated because of the dual nature of the legal issues you are facing. Working with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI attorney can help you handle both cases.
As a former DWI prosecutor and DWI public defender, I have the experience you want on your side. I have had many NJ refusal to consent to Alcotest cases dismissed and will fight hard to get you the results you want. If you are dealing with a refused breath test in addition to a DWI charge, let me handle all the charges you are now facing. I am available seven days a week; get in touch today and let’s begin working toward a solution. I look forward to speaking with you.