Everyone who drives on New Jersey roads and highways is required to submit to a breath test if requested by a police officer who suspects they may be driving while intoxicated.
Anyone who fails to comply with an officer’s request can be charged with refusing to submit to a breath test. The penalties for conviction on this offense include license suspension, fines, fees, surcharges, and mandatory participation in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) program. These are in addition to penalties for a DWI, if you are convicted of that charge.
At the Davis Law Firm, our DWI attorneys defend clients facing all charges related to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you have been charged with refusal to submit to an Alcotest, please contact our office to discuss your case.
Is there any advantage to refusing to submit to a breath test?
The short answer is, “No.” There is no advantage to refusing the BAC breath test. In fact, refusal can be used as evidence against you in the prosecution of a DWI.
At one time, refusing to comply with a request for a breath test gave drivers with prior DWIs on their records some leverage in court. Refusing a breath test deprived prosecutors of powerful evidence against the driver and sometimes resulted in dismissal of cases or reduction in charges. That is no longer the case. Why? You can still be charged with DWI in New Jersey even if you do not submit to a breath test.
What does it mean to refuse to submit to a breath test?
New Jersey courts have decided that any response other than “Yes,” to the officer’s request is a refusal to submit to a breath test.
- If you remain silent, you can be charged with refusal.
- If you say something ambiguous, like, “Whatever,” you are technically refusing.
- If you give conditions to your agreement, you can be charged with refusal. For example, saying “Yes, if my mom can stay with me,” or “I will if you stop shining that light in my eyes,” can result a charge of refusing to submit to a breath test.
Can an attorney negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor?
Prosecutors are prohibited by law from negotiating a plea agreement for those charged with a first time DWI or refusal to submit to a breath test. They either have to drop both charges or go to trial on both. On a second or subsequent offense, prosecutors may drop either the DWI or the refusal charge. As long as there is a first DWI on your record, however, the penalties for conviction on a DWI or a refusal to submit to a breath test are the same.
What are the penalties for refusal to submit to a breath test?
Penalties for conviction depend on whether you have prior convictions for refusal to submit to a breath test. Penalties include:
- First offense: 7 month to 1 year license suspension, $300-500 fine
- Second offense: 2 year license suspension, $500-$1,000 fine
- Third offense: 10 years, license suspension, $1,000 fine
The penalties are enhanced if the incident occurred in a school zone. In addition, there are surcharges, fees, and mandatory attendance at an alcohol education program through the IDRC.
Drunk driving charges are complicated. There are still ways a skilled attorney can reduce your exposure to these penalties. Each case must be evaluated individually. To discuss your circumstances, please call or contact the Davis Law Firm online.
From offices in Hamilton, we represent people charged with DWI and refusal to submit to a breath test throughout New Jersey.
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