New Jersey Court Discusses Evidence Needed to Prove Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test

Under New Jersey law, licensed drivers who are suspected of DWI are required to submit to breath tests, and if they refuse, they can be charged with a crime in addition to facing DWI charges. The State must prove each element of a defendant’s refusal to submit to a breath test to obtain a conviction, and if they do not, a finding of guilt may be unjust. Recently, a New Jersey court issued an opinion discussing the elements of refusal and the State’s burden of proof in a case in which the defendant unsuccessfully appealed her conviction. If you are faced with a charge of refusal to submit to a breath test, it is prudent to meet with a capable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to determine your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the police responded to a disturbance at a New Jersey courtroom where the defendant was attending a custody hearing. When they arrived, they observed the defendant yelling obscenities and screaming at other officers. They then saw the defendant in the courtroom and noticed she appeared to be intoxicated. The police worried she would drive while intoxicated and followed her to the parking lot, where she entered her vehicle and turned on the engine.

Allegedly, she was arrested and transported to the police station, where she stated she would not offer a breath sample. She was advised if she did not,  she could be charged with refusal to submit, but did not provide a sample. She was charged with DWI and refusal to submit. She was found guilty and then appealed, arguing in part that there was insufficient evidence to sustain her conviction.

Refusal to Submit Under New Jersey Law

On appeal, the appellate court noted that the trial court found that the arresting officer had read the defendant the required DWI statement, which advised her that if she did not provide a breath sample, she could be charged with the crime of refusal. Further, the court noted that the defendant did not respond in any way after the officer read her the statement.

Additionally, the judge stated that the defendant did not provide any reliable evidence that detailed the nature of her mental disorders that she stated affected her behavior or the manner in which they impacted her ability to understand and respond to the officer’s requests and warnings. Finally, the judge noted that the defendant’s understanding of the events that transpired at the police station negated her argument that she was confused regarding the officer’s instructions. Thus, her conviction was affirmed.

Meet with an Experienced New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

While many people think they can try to avoid DWI charges by declining to provide a breath sample, they can nonetheless face DWI charges without submitting to a breath test and may face penalties for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test as well. If you are charged with a DWI offense, the experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best outcome available in your case. You can contact us at 877-450-8301 or via the form online to set up a conference.

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