Refusing A Breathalyzer Test

Camden DUI Attorney

woman being asked to talk breathalyzer test

New Jersey is on the forefront of strict and severe drunk driving penalties when compared to other states. After being arrested for a DWI in New Jersey, you can face heavy fines, loss of driving privileges, and mandatory drunk driving education. If an officer suspects you are driving intoxicated, they can pull you over and conduct a field sobriety test before placing you under arrest. At this point, you are required by law to submit to a breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol content. If you choose to refuse the test, the state enforces the same penalties for a breathalyzer test refusal as those who are convicted of a DWI. Refusal can come in the form of a verbal response such as “No” as well as ambiguity or silence.

Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

The first offense for refusing a breathalyzer test carries a set of mandatory fines and penalties. A first time offender will lose their license for seven months to a year, but these lengths are doubled if the violation occurred in a school zone. The imposed fines will include a $300-500 fee, $230 per day of Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC), $100 to both the drunk driving fund and Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund (AERF), and $75 to the Neighborhood Services Fund. There is also a $1000 surcharge from your automobile insurance for three years. The offender must complete a minimum of 12 hours at the IDRC.

A second offense results in a similar set of penalties, but harsher in severity. The violator will lose their driver’s license for two years or four years if inside a school zone. They will face the same payments to the IDRC, drunk driving fund, AERF, Neighborhood Services Fund, and surcharge from their auto insurance company. The court imposed fine rises to $500-1000 and doubles within a school zone. The IDRC requirement remains the same at 12 hours minimum.

If a third conviction or greater occurs, the driver faces 10 years loss of license or 20 if committed in a school zone. The third breathalyzer refusal carries a fine of $1000 as well as the fees assessed to first or second time offenders. The auto insurance surcharge rises to $1500 a year for three years. Similar to the previous offenses, completion of 12 hours at an IDRC will be required.

Which Option is Best if You are Pulled Over for a DUI or DWI

With the current laws in place, it is often debated whether you should refuse a breathalyzer test. It is difficult to fight a refusal charge unless your lawyer can prove the state did not have probable cause for pulling you over. There are also strict protocols officers must follow when conducting a DWI or refusal arrest. For example, the officer must inform you of your right to have an independent sample tested by a physician of your choice. Keep in mind that a breathalyzer test is not required to convict you of a DWI and experienced legal counsel is highly recommended in any drunk driving-related case.