Defendant Refuses to Provide a Breath Sample

New Jersey law requires a motorist who operates a motor vehicle on any street, road, or highway to voluntarily provide breath samples for purposes of determining his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

See State v. Dyal 97 NJ 229 (1984).

These tests are a vital component of a drunk driving prosecution. The results may constitute sufficient evidence to prove a per se violation of the drunk driving statute. Since breath samples cannot be extracted involuntarily, an individual’s breath test refusal frustrates the prosecutor’s ability to prove a driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence charge. Law enforcement may resort to blood testing as a means of obtaining samples as there is no ability to refuse the drawing of samples.

See Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757

(1966). Thus, if the police have probable cause to believe that the defendant has operated a motor vehicle in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a), they may transport him or her to a suitable medical facility and have a blood sample taken by medical personnel, against the will of the defendant, if necessary.

See State v. Ravotto, 169 N.J. 227 (2001).