Police often use breath tests in DWI (driving while intoxicated) investigations to determine the driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The results of the breath test can be used by the prosecutor to prove a DWI in court.
A DWI may be harder to prove without a valid BAC measurement, but refusing a breath test will result in additional penalties for the driver.
New Jersey has an "implied consent" law that requires drivers who are lawfully arrested for driving while intoxicated to submit to an alcohol test. However, New Jersey's implied consent law is different than the laws of most states.
New Jersey's "implied consent" law states that any person who operates a motor vehicle in New Jersey is deemed to have given consent to chemical testing of the driver's breath.
A driver who's cited for refusal will face penalties if the magistrate judge determines—by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not)—all of the following:
Having found these to be true, the judge will order the driver's license suspended and will issue fines.
Fines and license revocation. Drivers who refuse to submit to a lawfully requested breath test will face the following penalties based on the number of prior DWI or refusal convictions the driver has.
7 to 12 months
$300 to $500
$500 to $1,000
All license revocation periods will generally run concurrently (back-to-back) with any other DWI-related revocation periods (a DWI conviction will also result in license revocation). However, for a first offense, the judge can order that the suspensions run together (at the same time).
Substance abuse treatment. The judge will also order the driver to enroll in and complete the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center program. A first offense requires 12 to 48 hours in the center, while the required hours for subsequent offenses will depend on the results of the alcohol and drug screening and evaluation.
Ignition interlock devices (IIDs). After license reinstatement, the driver will be required to maintain an IID on all driven vehicles for six to 12 months. Any subsequent offenses will carry an IID requirement of one to three years.
Insurance surcharge. A refusal violation will require the driver to pay an annual surcharge for three years after the violation. The surcharge for a first or second offense is $1,000 and for a third offense is $1,500.
Anytime you're arrested for a DWI or any other crime, you should get legal assistance. An experienced DWI lawyer can review your case, let you know what you're facing, and help you decide on how best to handle your situation.