NJ Legislature Seeks to Extend Drunk Driving Sobriety Testing Post-crash for Serious Wrecks

The New Jersey statehouse wants mandatory sobriety testing for drivers involved in severe traffic accidents regardless of whether drunk driving is indicated as the cause of the crash. This is significant because the current law only allows police to administer breathalyzer tests and the like when evidence points to a case of driving while intoxicated, or at least clear suspicion that the operator of a vehicle was driving in an impaired state as a result of drug or alcohol use.

As a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer, I’ve seen drunk driving law evolve during my career as a municipal prosecutor and now as a drunk driving defense attorney. Society has little tolerance for intoxicated drivers and this bill is one more step in expanding the tools police have at their disposal. The bill states that law enforcement officers must take a blood or breath sample from the driver of a vehicle involved in a traffic accident that resulted in a fatality or that caused serious injury to another person.

A driver’s refusal to submit to such a test could result in fines up to $1,000 and a possible two-year suspension of the offender’s driver’s license — the same penalty for a conviction of refusal in relation to a drunken driving charge. According to news reports, opponents of the legislation have argued the unconstitutionality of a law that forces an individual to submit to a blood or urine test when there is no probable cause to suspect them of a crime.

Some groups like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents commercial truck drivers, say that the bill takes implied consent to the extreme and that it’s ridiculous to impose what constitutes as intrusive bodily invasion without probable cause. According to reports, the bill does not even specify who can or cannot draw blood to determine blood alcohol content, leaving the door open to potential malpractice suits as a result of inexperienced or unquailifed persons performing these procedures on suspects.

At The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we understand the law and how police should conduct a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. Every one of our DWI defense attorneys is certified in the procedures laid out in the standardized field sobriety tests as established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And, unlike many lawyers in New Jersey, all of our attorneys are certified in the operation and use of the Alcotest breath testing machine. These facts, as well as our vast experience in defending drunk driving cases, show why clients seek us out to fight for them in a court of law.

No probable cause? NJ bill would expand post-crash sobriety tests, LandLineMag.com, June 11, 2009