PRIOR GUILTY PLEA TO NJ DWI REFUSAL TO TAKE A BREATHE TEST WILL BE TREATED AS A PRIOR DWI CONVICTION FOR SENTENCING PURPOSES
In State v. Ciancaglini. the New Jersey Appellate Division reversed a long-standing precedent by holding that a prior conviction for refusing to take the breathalyzer test is considered a prior “violation” or “offense” for purposes of the DWI statute. In essence, the Court’s decision treats defendants that previously pled guilty to refusing to take a the breathalyzer (as opposed to individuals guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) the same, for sentencing purposes, as if that defendant actually pled guilty to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The practical application of this decision will make a defendant that was acquitted of a driving under the influence of alchohol (DWI) but pled guilty to Refusing to take a breathalyzer test the same as a defendant that actually pled guilty to a DWI.