New Jersey DWI/DUI: Refusal to Take a Blood, Breath or Urine Test

In New Jersey, if you get pulled over for a DWI and the officer asks you to take a breath test, do you have to take one? What happens if you refuse?

Implied Consent

New Jersey law requires you to take a breath test if you are arrested for a DWI. New Jersey’s “implied consent” law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving while intoxicated, then you consent to taking a chemical test of your breath for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content (BAC). The test must be taken at the time of your arrest. If you refuse to take a test, however, then the officer cannot force you to take one.

You could be arrested for a DWI even if you are not driving. If you let another person drive your car and you know that that person is drunk, then New Jersey law says that you, too, can be convicted of a DWI. The state has made this law to punish people who put drunk drivers on the road just the same as the drunk drivers themselves.

You can read New Jersey’s implied consent law in the New Jersey Statute Annotated 39:4-50.2. To find out more about how even a passenger can be held responsible for a DWI, read New Jersey Statute Annotated 39:4-50 and the case State v. Hessen 678 A.2d 1082 (1996).

Refusing to Take the Test

1st Offense

2d Offense

3rd Offense

Refusal to take test

7 month license revocation

2 year license revocation

10 year license revocation

Once you are arrested, the officer will request a breath test and should tell you your rights if you submit to a test as well as the penalties if you choose not to. If you submit to the test, then you can have a copy of the test results and you have the right to have an additional breath, blood, or urine tests taken by a medical professional of your choice. The penalties for refusing to take the initial breath test begin with a suspension of your license for seven months and a fine from $300 to $500. You will lose your license for two years and have to pay a fine of $500 to $1,000 if this is your second refusal. For your third refusal, the suspension lasts for ten years and the fine is $1,000. Additionally, if you refuse to take a chemical test after you have been arrested for a DWI when driving on school grounds, through a school crossing, or even within 1,000 feet of a school, the penalties are doubled.

The penalties for refusing to submit to a chemical test are found in the New Jersey Statutes Annotated 39.4-50.22.

Should You Refuse to Take a Mandatory DWI Test in New Jersey?

It usually does not help you to refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test when you are arrested for a DWI. In New Jersey, the consequences for a first DWI include fines, jail time and a three-month suspension of your license. These consequences are more severe than refusing a chemical test. Still, refusing the test does not guarantee that you won’t be convicted – you could be found guilty of a DWI even if your refusal means that the state does not have proof that your BAC was over.08%, the legal limit for those over 21. In fact, the prosecution can use your refusal against you by arguing that you refused the test because you knew that you were intoxicated and guilty of DWI.

Get Help With Your DWI

If you have been arrested on a DWI charge in New Jersey or any other state, get help from an experienced DWI attorney. Unlike other traffic related charges, which might be worth fighting without a lawyer, conviction for a DWI has serious consequences – especially if the incident involved injury to people or property, or if it’s your second or subsequent DWI. To avoid or reduce the consequences, your best bet is to find an attorney who is knowledgeable about your state’s laws and about how the system works in your county’s court.

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