You may have been down this road before. However, whether it’s your first DWI stop or your third, there’s something you really should know. Refusing a breath test can cost you. Ironically, it might hurt you more than you expect.
Put yourself in this situation. You and your friends take a ride to the Jersey shore. Before you head back up on the Garden State Parkway, you stop off for some dinner. You’re still in beach mode and have a couple of frozen margaritas. The sugary taste of the drinks seemingly masks their effect. Nevertheless, you stop at two – after all, the ride back to Union County is surely hampered by weekend traffic.
Your friend blasts the radio loud as you both join in to sing familiar lyrics. You’re surprised when you see bright lights flashing from behind you – and even more shocked when you hear a state trooper shouting at you to pull over to the shoulder.
At first, you figure you were stopped because you were speeding. However, that makes little sense as you were just keeping up with traffic – that just started to move. As the trooper requests your license, insurance, and registration, he seems to get a whiff of your breath. And, that’s where your troubles begin.
To your absolute surprise, the state police officer begins asking you questions about your alcohol consumption. By now, you’re feeling defensive. Ultimately, the trooper requests that you blow into a breathalyzer machine. As far as you’re concerned, this could only get ugly.
You follow your instincts and decide to deny the request. Candidly, you are barely listening when the trooper explains the consequences of your denial. As far as you’re concerned, you’re not interested in finding out if the machine registers a number in excess of .10% – the legal limit establishing drunk driving in New Jersey.
Penalties for Refusing Breath Test
In retrospect, you might wish that you could reconsider your decision to refuse the breath test. After all, there’s the possibility that you were under the legal limit.
Instead, you are faced with some hefty consequences. You can still get arrested for DWI without confirmation readings from a breathalyzer analysis. If you are, you will find yourself faced with the penalties described in NJSA 39:4-50.4a.
For starters, this means the municipal court judge will order the revocation of your driving privileges for at least seven months and up to one year. Meanwhile, that’s just for a first offense. A second offense results in a two-year revocation, while a third year means ten years without a license.
However, the municipal court judge must consider other issues. An attorney experienced with DWI charges will evaluate the circumstances of your arrest. Was there probable cause to believe you were operating a vehicle while under the influence? This is just one important element of your defense.