Consequences of Refusing a Breath Test Under New Jersey Law

breathalyzerIf you have been pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, it is important for you to understand your rights regarding breath tests. At our firm, our skilled New Jersey DWI attorneys understand the nuances of this area of law and know what it takes to resolve cases efficiently and effectively. When it comes to a DWI charge, you should not leave the outcome to chance, which is why it is important to hire a knowledgeable lawyer.

New Jersey has an “implied consent” law, which means if you drive on New Jersey roads, you have implicitly agreed to submit to breath testing when an officer has probable cause to suspect that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol. State law mandates drivers to submit to breath testing, without any exceptions.

If you refuse to submit to a breath test, you can be charged with “refusal to submit to chemical breath testing.” This is a distinct offense that leads to additional charges on top of the original DWI charge. In order to be convicted for refusal, the arresting officer must have had probable cause to believe that the defendant had been driving while intoxicated. In addition, the driver must have refused to submit to taking the breath or other type of sample after being asked to do so by the police officer.

In New Jersey, the basic offense of a DWI consists of driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. For commercial drivers, the BAC level must not be 0.04 percent or higher. For drivers under the age of 21, the BAC cannot be 0.01 percent or higher.

The main difference between the DWI statute and the refusal statute in New Jersey is the possibility of jail time. While the DWI statute carries the possibility of jail time, the refusal statute does not. Penalties for refusing to take a breath test may vary based on your prior convictions. Possible penalties include:

  • First Offense:  a fine of no less than $300 and no more than $500; a license suspension for seven months to one year; other mandatory fines and costs; 12-48 hours at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC); and an ignition interlock device for the length of the license suspension plus 6-12 months.
  • Second Offense:  a fine of no less than $500 and no more than $1,000; a license suspension for at least two years; other mandatory fines and costs; 48 hours at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC); and an ignition interlock device for the length of the license suspension plus 1-3 years.
  • Third and Subsequent Offenses:  a fine of $1,000; a driver’s license revocation or suspension for 10 years (20 years if it occurred in a school zone); other mandatory fines and costs; time at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC); and an ignition interlock device for the length of the license suspension plus 1-3 years.

It is important to note that refusing to submit to a breath test can make a conviction more likely because there is an inference by the court that you refused due to believing you were inebriated. This inference can be rebutted by evidence on your part.

Refusal cases can be complex, and having the right New Jersey DWI attorney on your side can make all of the difference in your case. At our firm, we understand that a DWI or refusal conviction can permanently affect your record as well as other aspects of your future. We are dedicated to protecting your rights throughout the entire legal process. To schedule a consultation, call us at 877-450-8301 or reach out to us online.

More Blog Posts:

Sentencing Alternatives in New Jersey

DWI in New Jersey School Zones