Under New Jersey’s implied consent law, drivers are deemed to consent to submit to breath tests if they are stopped for suspicion of DWI. As such, if a driver declines to submit to a breath test, the driver can be charged with refusal to submit to a chemical test, which may result in suspension or revocation of the driver’s license. In a recent New Jersey case, a court discussed the State’s burden of proof in a case in which a defendant is charged with refusal to submit to chemical testing. If you are a resident of New Jersey currently accused of a DWI crime, it is prudent to confer with a New Jersey DWI defense attorney to assess what defenses you may be able to assert to protect your rights.
Factual and Procedural Background of the Case
Allegedly, the defendant lost control of his vehicle and left the roadway, driving into a pole. A police officer responded to the incident, and upon speaking with the defendant observed that the defendant smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes, and diminished balance and speech. As such, the police officer requested that the defendant submit to a breath test. The defendant refused. He was subsequently charged with DWI, failure to maintain a lane, and refusal to submit to a chemical test.
It is reported that the defendant was convicted on all counts, after which he appealed. The defendant’s appeal was granted, and a new trial was ordered, after which he was found not guilty of DWI but guilty of refusal to submit to a chemical test and failure to maintain a lane. Following a second appeal, a new trial was held on the refusal to submit to a chemical test charge. The defendant was convicted and again appealed.
Evidence Needed to Prove Refusal to Submit to Chemical Testing
Under New Jersey’s refusal statute, the State must produce evidence that demonstrates, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a defendant refused to submit to a breath test in order to obtain a conviction. During the second trial, the judge explained that the burden of proof extended to all of the elements of the statute.
In other words, the State must show that the officer that requested the defendant submit to a breath test had probable cause to believe the defendant was driving a vehicle on a public road while under the influence of alcohol, the defendant was arrested for DWI, the officer requested that the defendant submit to a breath test, and the defendant made a competent and knowing refusal to submit to the test.
In the subject case, the appellate court found that there was sufficient evidence to uphold the defendant’s conviction. Specifically, the evidence indicated there were reasonable grounds to believe the defendant was driving under the influence, and that his decision to refuse to submit to a breath test was knowing. As such, his conviction was affirmed.
Meet with a Zealous New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney
If you are accused of a DWI offense or refusal to submit to chemical testing, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to discuss your rights. The zealous New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall take pride in helping DWI defendants fight for just results, and if you retain our services, we will aggressively advocate on your behalf. You can reach us through our form online or at 877-450-8301 to set up a conference.