New Jersey Court Explains Grounds for Conviction of Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test

New Jersey is one of many states that has an implied consent law. This means that if people are stopped for suspicion of DWI, it is presumed under the law that they consent to submit to breath tests, and if they do not, they can be charged with refusal crimes. In a recent New Jersey opinion, a court explained the grounds for charging and convicting a person with refusal in a case in which the defendant argued his conviction was improper because he was charged under the wrong statute. If you are accused of a refusal crime, it is prudent to meet with a skillful New Jersey DWI defense attorney regarding your possible defenses.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is alleged that the defendant was stopped by a police officer, who detected a smell of alcohol from within the vehicle. Upon questioning, the defendant admitted to drinking alcohol. He submitted to field sobriety tests, which he failed, and he was arrested. The defendant was transported to the police station, where the officer read the defendant the statement required by New Jersey law, which informed him of the consequences of refusing to submit to breath tests. The defendant then refused to submit to the breath test twice.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple offenses, including DWI and refusal. Prior to the trial, he filed a motion to dismiss the refusal charge, claiming that the summons was defective because it stated that the defendant violated the implied consent statute rather than the refusal statute. The court denied the motion, and the defendant was found guilty of refusal. He then appealed.

Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test

On appeal, the court explained the relationship between the implied consent and refusal statutes. Specifically, the refusal statute imposes an obligation on officers to request drivers to submit to breath tests, while the implied consent law defines how the request should be made. To be convicted of refusal, a judge must find that the driver refused to submit to a breath test following an officer’s request.

The test that is explicitly noted in the refusal statute is the one provided for in the implied consent law. In turn, the implied consent statute directs officers to read a statement informing the person under arrest of the consequences of refusing to submit to a breath test. As such, the statutes not only rely upon one another, they also cross-reference each other. While the court noted that the officer should have been more careful when drafting the summons, it found that the defendant did not suffer any prejudice due to the error. Thus, the defendant’s appeal was denied.

Speak with an Experienced New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

The refusal to submit to a breath test is a crime in New Jersey, and a conviction can result in significant civil and criminal penalties. If you are charged with refusal to submit to a breath test in New Jersey, it is critical to understand your rights, and you should speak to a lawyer. The experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are dedicated to helping people charged with an alcohol-related driving offenses in the pursuit of favorable outcomes, and we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us through our form online or at 877-450-8301 to set up a conference.

Contact Information