Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test
New Jersey law requires administration of a breathalyzer test during a DWI arrest. Residents automatically consent to this test when they obtain a driver’s license in New Jersey under the theory of implied consent, and the consequences stemming from a refusal to take the test may surprise many.
Breathalyzer tests are the most commonly used scientific test for determining whether a driver is operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit. In New Jersey, the legal limit is .08 percent.
New Jersey residents can refuse to take a breathalyzer test. However, this choice comes with certain consequences.
If a suspected drunk driver refuses a breathalyzer test, officers can bring him or her to a hospital where staff can draw blood to determine BAC. Even if the tests do not yield grounds for a DWI charge, the act of refusing the test itself may result in the same consequences as a DWI arrest, including:
- Loss of license for 7 months to one year
- Multiple fines, fees and surcharges
- 12 mandatory hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC)
The above penalties are only for a first offense. Individuals charged with DWI or who refuse to take a breathalyzer test for a second time face two years license suspension and double the amount of fines in addition to 12 hours in an IDRC.
Other consequences of a DWI arrest can include ignition interlock requirements, jail time or mandatory community service.
The significance of a DWI conviction is considerable and the penalties and consequences are severe. Although deciding not to take a breathalyzer test is one option, it is important to understand the consequences and make a careful decision. If you face DWI charges or charges for refusing to take a breath test, do not hesitate to contact an experienced DWI defense lawyer.
Source: State of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, “Breathalyzer Test,” October 14, 2007