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One of the most common questions clients facing DUI charges have is: should I refuse the breath test? After all, if the police don’t have a breath test, they can’t convict on DUI charges—right? Wrong. Breath test refusal is a separate offense in New Jersey. Even more importantly, the state can prove DUI charges without the underlying breath test results.
At Team Law, our lawyers know that people make mistakes. We fight to minimize the fallout from those mistakes. With a 60-plus year track record of success, you can count on us to build the strongest possible defense in your case.
If Your Facing Breath Test Refusal Charges And Have Questions, We Can Help. Tell Us What Happened.
When facing breath test refusal charges, it’s important to have a strong lawyer on your side. Our defense lawyers are available to help with all DUI-related offenses. We can work to protect your rights if you are charged with breath test refusal, and/or a first-offense DUI or subsequent DUI charge.
Your first consultation with Team Law is always free. Call us today to learn more about protecting your legal rights if you have been charged with breath test refusal.
The breath test is the standard way New Jersey law enforcement decides whether they can charge a driver with DUI/DWI. It measures your blood alcohol content (BAC). A BAC of 0.08% means that you were above the legal limit and can be charged with DUI/DWI.
New Jersey enforces something called an implied consent law. If you have a New Jersey driver’s license and get behind the wheel, you have already consented to a breath test. Refusing at a later point is an offense that is separate from a DUI charge. In fact, you can be charged with both the refusal and the DUI.
New Jersey police have the right to ask you to take a breath test under most circumstances. As long as the officer has reasonable cause to make the traffic stop and administer testing, you can be charged upon refusal to submit.
After you are stopped, the officer will usually begin by administering field sobriety testing. The breath test is then administered once you have been brought into custody.
You can be charged with refusal to submit to a breath test if you:
The officer is, however, required to read a statement advising you of the penalties for refusing to take the breath test. That statement is a standard statement that the officer must read if you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. After the officer reads the statement, you must again be asked to submit to a breath test.
Anything other than submitting to the test unconditionally will result in a breath test refusal charge.
The penalties for breath test refusal in New Jersey mirror those that can apply if you are convicted of the underlying DUI/DWI charge. However, they can be levied in addition to DUI/DWI charges. If you refuse to submit to a breath test, as a first offender, you can face:
For a second offense, you can lose your license for up to two years—and third offense refusal charges carry a 10-year suspension. In other words, the same penalties that apply if convicted of a DUI apply to breath test refusal charges. For second and third offenses, you can even face jail time.
The primary difference is that these charges can be imposed in addition to the same charges for the underlying DUI offense.
It’s understandable that your first instinct might be to refuse a breath test—especially if you have had even a single drink before driving. If you don’t have experience with the law, it might even seem like a good way to avoid a DUI charge. The consequences can be unfortunately severe.
If you have been charged with breath test refusal, whether alone or in connection with additional DUI charges, you need a strong lawyer by your side. Our defense lawyers at Team Law are always available to help. We offer a free initial consultation so that we can discuss options in your case, so call or contact us today to learn more.
A breath test is the standard measure for determining whether your BAC was above the legal limit. It is not the only way to prove a DUI—and you can be charged with the DUI regardless of whether the police have your BAC reading.
Police testimony alone can be sufficient to establish that you were driving under the influence.
The police will likely present evidence about:
– Whether your driving presented any signs that you were under the influence (were you drifting between lanes, driving unusually slowly, etc.)
– Your general demeanor when pulled over
– The results of field sobriety testing
– Whether the police smelled alcohol on your breath
– Any other evidence that suggests you were guilty of DUI
Refusing the breath test is usually construed as an admission of guilt. Building a defense is difficult, but not impossible. One possible defense is that you refused the breath test because of an underlying medical condition—for example, asthma or breathing problems that would make it difficult to submit. The arresting officer must also have probable cause for the traffic stop and the field sobriety testing. If the officer lacked probable cause, it may be possible to get the breath test refusal charges dismissed.
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Criminal Defense Information Center