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New Jersey township committeeman to appear on breath test refusal

As Cape May readers may know, police commonly administer field sobriety tests and breath tests to determine whether probable cause exists to believe that a driver has operated a vehicle while intoxicated.

As he prepares to head to trial, a committeeman from Princeton Township claims that he was unaware of the consequences that attach to breath test refusal.

The case stems from a late night incident on August 9 in which the committeeman ran into a parked tractor-trailer on the side of Interstate 95. The committeeman says that he was tired and dozed off while driving. He gave no specific reason for refusing to take a breath test, but said that he did not believe he was over the legal blood alcohol limit.

Implied consent to breath tests

In New Jersey, anyone driving a motor vehicle is deemed to have given implied consent to the administration of blood alcohol tests whenever police have a reasonable basis to suspect intoxication. Even when a driver is not legally intoxicated, breath test refusal can result in fines, license suspension for seven to 12 months and mandatory participation in an intoxicated driver program. The program fees alone can exceed $300.

Normally, police officers should read a standard statement to a suspected drunk driver that explains the consequences of breath test refusal. Failure to read the standard statement may provide a defense to test refusal charges.

The Princeton committeeman’s claim that he did not understand the consequences of breath test refusal raises the question of whether the arresting officer read the standard statement. If not, he may have a good defense against the pending charges.

New Jersey residents facing penalties for refusing a blood alcohol test should be aware that police officers have to comply with certain requirements in order to make a legal stop and arrest. An experienced drunk driving defense attorney can help identify failures to follow legal requirements that can provide a defense to the charges.

Source: Planet Princeton, Princeton Committeeman’s DUI Trial Set for Oct. 9,” Crystal Knapp, Sept. 11, 2012

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