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New Jersey Assemblyman faces charges for DWI, refusing breath test

A New Jersey Assemblyman, Paul Moriarty (D-Gloucester), is facing drunk driving charges after being stopped on State Highway 42 this week.

His charges include driving while intoxicated (DWI), refusing a breathalyzer and failing to maintain his lane. According to a statement, Moriarty is fighting the charges, claiming, “Let me be clear: I had consumed no alcoholic beverages, and this entire episode was an abuse of power.”

Moriarty said that the officer who arrested him was recently fired from the Police Department for not being truthful in an Internal Affairs Investigation. He was then reinstated.

The officer claims that Moriarty cut him off in an intersection and that is why he pulled him over. He then performed a field sobriety test, but Moriarty refused the Breathalyzer.

Refusing a breath test

Why did the Assemblyman refuse his breath test?

In New Jersey, and in most other states, everyone with a driver’s license gives his or her implied consent to submit to a breath test or another chemical test. Refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test is technically breaking the law.

Therefore, someone who refuses to take a breathalyzer test can face significant penalties similar to someone facing direct DWI charges. For example, for a first offense, a driver who refused a breath test will face license suspension of up to one year. He or she can also be charged with DWI.

It is probably not a good idea to refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, but there are defenses available to those who do.

The lifelong impact of a DWI charge

Moriarty’s case shows how the DWI charge alone can haunt someone for life. Even if he is acquitted, he may face scrutiny when he is up for reelection.

That is one of the reasons defendants have a right to remain silent and do not need to give information to anyone, including the news media. An experienced DWI lawyer can help safeguard a defendant’s reputation while fighting the charges.

Source: NJ.com, “Police release some details of N.J. Assemblyman’s DWI charge,” Jarrett Renshaw, August 1, 2012.

To learn more about DWI, please see our pages on New Jersey DWI laws

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