Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in New Jersey?

  • Dan T. Matrafajlo
  • Mon Nov 2023
  • DWI,
  • 0

New Jersey DWI attorneyWhen you are pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving in New Jersey, the law enforcement agency may take some steps to determine whether you are in fact intoxicated. One of these measures is to administer a Breathalyzer test. You might be tempted to refuse. However, you should carefully consider the consequences you might face for refusing a Breathalyzer test.

Regardless of what happens at your driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrest, you should immediately hire an experienced New Jersey drunk driving attorney to handle your case. A skilled attorney will know what steps to take and strategies to use to protect your legal rights and increase your chances of getting the charges dismissed or reduced.

Your Rights to Refuse a New Jersey Breathalyzer Test

New Jersey law (NJSA 39:4-50.2) mandates all motorists to submit to an alcohol test upon request by law enforcement. If you refuse a breathalyzer test, it will not necessarily avoid a drunk driving charge. Rather, a refusal can result in additional consequences and even criminal penalties.
While New Jersey law does not permit law enforcement to administer a breathalyzer test (including a chemical test or collecting urine sample), it will enforce consequences on the driver who refuses the request.
As such, although you can legally refuse a breath test, you do not have the legal right to do so. New Jersey law requires all motorists to submit a breathalyzer if requested by law enforcement.

Different Ways of Refusing a Breath Test

You don’t have to say no flat out refuse a breath test. Other actions you take can equate a constructive refusal of a breathalyzer, including:
• Remaining silent when asked to take a breathalyzer
• Showing unwillingness to physically take the test
• Purposefully manipulating the test by performing a “fake” blow (short sample)
• Stalling or delaying the test
• Failing to be affirmative with your answer (anything other than “I will” or “yes”)
• Making your breath test conditional

Penalties for Refusing a New Jersey Breath Test

There are penalties for refusing a Breathalyzer test in New Jersey. The consequences increase for each subsequent offense, as outlined below:
• 1st Offense:
◦ $300 to $500 fine
◦ Suspension of driver’s license until you install an ignition interlock device (IID), which requires you to test the level of alcohol prior to driving
◦ Minimum of 6 hours per day for two consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) to receive education for drunk driving
• 2nd Offense:
◦ $500 to $1,000 fine
◦ One to two year license suspension following installation of an IID in your car
◦ Minimum of 48 hours of consecutively in detainment in an IDRC
◦ Mandatory community service
◦ Jail term of between two and 90 days
• 3rd Offense:
◦ $1,000 fine
◦ One to two year license suspension following installation of an IID in your car
◦ Attend alcohol education program and additional alcohol counseling at IDRC
◦ Jail term of 180 days

Contact Us Today!

If you have been arrested for drunk driving, you should discuss your case, including any potential meritorious motions to suppress, with an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney. For more information or to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, please call Beninato & Matrafajlo Attorneys at Law, LLC at 908-248-4404.

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Dan T. Matrafajlo

Dan T. Matrafajlo

NJ State Bar: #031722003

Dan T. Matrafajlo, Esq., is the managing member and lead partner at Beninato and Matrafajlo, Attorneys at Law, LLC. Renowned for groundbreaking contributions to personal injury law, he has set legal precedents with influential Appellate decisions and garnered recognition in the New Jersey Law Journal. A consistent honoree on Super Lawyers' Rising Star list for the past five years, Matrafajlo's litigation prowess is widely acknowledged. He has won various awards like Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters Association 2019, and Nominated into Super Lawyers as a Rising Star from 2012 until the Present.

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