Among the most critical components of a DWI case in New Jersey is the result of the Alcotest 7110 breath test, which is typically used to establish proof of intoxication. Under New Jersey’s “implied consent” law, a driver who operates a motor vehicle on any roadway in the State of New Jersey is legally considered to have provided his or her consent to submit to a breath test upon request of an officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that the driver is under the influence. As such, your refusal to provide such a sample may result in charges for “refusal to submit to a breath test,” which are generally issued in addition to charges for DWI and may spell additional penalties if you are ultimately found guilty. In cases in which you do provide a breath sample, there are a host of strategies that may be used to challenge the results of the reading. Conversely, “refusal” cases are more difficult to combat, requiring a highly experienced legal representative who can navigate the nuances of these cases in order to achieve a desirable outcome.
From the moment that your DWI case begins, it may feel as though you are backed into a corner with no foreseeable escape. Fortunately, you may have more options than you know. At The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our seasoned defense attorneys have accumulated a lengthy list of credentials, many of which mirror those of the police officers and prosecutors who work against our clients. For instance, our firm includes 5 attorneys who are certified to operate and maintain the Draeger Alcotest 7110 Breath Test Instrument, as well as 5 lawyers who are certified in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (3 of whom are also SFST instructors). Our defense team also includes former prosecutors in over 25 municipalities. We leverage their behind-the-scenes exposure to the way the State constructs its cases against DWI defendants to anticipate and undermine their arguments. Essentially, we have made it our business to know as much, if not more, than those who would seek to prosecute our clients. If you or someone you love has been charged with DWI and/or refusal to submit to a breath test in New Jersey, contact our offices anytime at 908-722-1011 for a free comprehensive consultation. Our knowledge is your power.
Consent and Failure to Provide a Breath Sample in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a
Failure to provide a breath test in New Jersey is governed by N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4(a) which dictates the following:
a. Except as provided in subsection b. of this section, the municipal court shall revoke the right to operate a motor vehicle of any operator who, after being arrested for a violation of R.S.39:4-50, shall refuse to submit to a test provided for in section 2 of P.L.1966, c. 142 (C.39:4-50.2) when requested to do so, for not less than seven months or more than one year unless the refusal was in connection with a second offense under this section, in which case the revocation period shall be for two years or unless the refusal was in connection with a third or subsequent offense under this section in which case the revocation shall be for ten years. A conviction or administrative determination of a violation of a law of a substantially similar nature in another jurisdiction, regardless of whether that jurisdiction is a signatory to the Interstate Driver License Compact pursuant to P.L.1966, c. 73 (C.39:5D-1 et seq.), shall constitute a prior conviction under this section.
What Constitutes “Refusal” under New Jersey Law?
According to the law in New Jersey, refusing to submit to a breath test is not confined to an explicit “no.” In fact, any number of responses, even no response, can be considered a refusal and result in these charges. The specific instructions that police officers must relay to you prior to the administration of a breath test contain the following: Any response that is ambiguous or conditional, in any respect, to your giving consent to the taking of breath samples will be treated as a refusal to submit to breath testing.
Defense Strategies for Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test Charges
Although there are fewer available strategies for challenging “refusal” than for typical DWI charges where the Blood Alcohol Concentration reading is available, there are a number of viable defense arguments which may lead to a dismissal. First, the State must prove that there was probable cause for the initial motor vehicle stop. If we can call into question whether or not you actually committed a motor vehicle violation in the first place, the State will be forced to dismiss the charges that resulted from an illegitimate stop based on the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine.
Another potential strategy involves challenging the probable cause for requesting a breath sample. For instance, an officer who asks you to submit to a breath test after you successfully completed field sobriety testing, or one who makes an error during test administration, may provide grounds for a dismissal. Our extensive knowledge and training in field sobriety testing often allows us to identify errors made during these procedures. Lastly, prior to administration of a breath test, the officer must read and explain the refusal form provided by the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles. If the test is not thoroughly explained or an error is made on the form itself, which you are required to sign, this may provide us with the means necessary to argue for an outright dismissal.
Penalties for Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test in New Jersey
As outlined above, the penalties for refusal to submit to a breath test range in severity based on the number (if any) of previous offenses for which the defendant has been convicted.
- First Offense Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test: fine ranging from $300-$500, 7-month to 1 year suspension of driving privileges
- Second Offense Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test: fine ranging from $500-$1,000, 2-year suspension of driving privileges
- Third Offense Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test: fine of $1,000, 10-year suspension of driving privileges
Contact our Branchburg NJ Refusal to Consent to a Breath Test Lawyers
With practical training and elite defense tactics, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall balance tenacity with skill in order to beat DWI charges in court rooms across the State. For a stress-free, cost-free consultation, contact our offices anytime at 908-722-1011.