DWIs are among the most commonly committed crimes in New Jersey. Many residents have found themselves in your shoes - stopped on the side of the road by law enforcement on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Most people aren't aware that if they make one wrong move during a stop, they can be subjected to additional criminal charges associated with a DWI. One of the most common related charges is a violation of the state's implied consent law.
If you're like most residents, you don't want to make a bad situation worse, and if you're cited with a violation of the implied consent law, that's exactly what will happen. The good news is that the Lento Law Firm will provide an overview of what the implied consent law encompasses.
What is New Jersey's Implied Consent Law?
Getting your license is an exciting time. But what's implied the minute you receive your license is a stipulation that dictates you are to abide by the state's implied consent law. According to New Jersey statutes (N.J.R.S. 39:4-50-4a), motorists who are stopped and arrested for driving under suspicion of a DWI are required to submit breath or blood test samples for chemical analysis to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Simply put, it is against the law for New Jersey motorists to refuse breath and blood testing upon the request of an officer if the driver is arrested.
There are certain gestures are actions that can be characterized as a refusal in the eyes of an officer. The following responses may land you a violation:
- A conditional or ambiguous response: “I won't take the test unless you hear me out.”
- An blunt refusal: “I am not going to take these tests.”
If a person's response doesn't explicitly indicate they agree to take the test, that person is refusing.
It's important to note that refusing to comply with testing doesn't necessarily mean you avoided being convicted of a DWI. A breath or blood test isn't necessarily required to convict you.
Before breath and blood tests are administered, law enforcement is required to warn you of the penalties for violating the implied consent law. This warning comes in the form of an implied consent form, which is read to drivers when it's time for testing. This form includes some pretty eye-opening information that will undoubtedly catch the attention of a driver, even if they are somewhat impaired.
For example, there's a portion of the statement that reads as follows:
“According to law, if a court of law finds you guilty of refusing to submit to chemical tests of your breath, then your license to operate a motor vehicle may be revoked by the court for a period of no less than seven months and no more than 20 years. The court will also fine you a sum of no less than $300.00 and nor more that $2,000.00 for your refusal conviction.”
Of course, after hearing that a license could possibly be revoked for 20 years, the average person would panic. But this is an extremely rare circumstance.
There's also another stanza in this statement that could alarm and confuse a motorist who is about to submit to testing. It reads:
“Any warnings previously given to you concerning your right to consult with an attorney do not apply to the taking of breath samples and do not give you the right to refuse to give or to delay giving samples of your breath for the purpose of making chemical tests to determine the content of alcohol in your blood. You have no legal right to have an attorney, physician or anyone else present, for the purpose of taking breath samples.”
This is already confusing enough to read. When you merely hear this being read to you, it's easy for you to falsely believe that you don't have the right to speak to an attorney about this part of your DWI arrest, but that isn't true.
Penalties for Violating the Implied Consent Law
The first refusal of breath or blood tests is punishable by a 7-month license revocation. A second violation will lead to a 2-year license revocation. Any subsequent violations will carry penalties of a 10-year license revocation.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
Being accused of refusing to comply with testing can put your driving privileges at stake. But if it's proven that these tests were conducted improperly or an officer's actions strayed from protocol, there's a good chance your charges could be dismissed.
All the more reason that you should contact a seasoned criminal defense attorney. The sooner a legal representative can get on your case, the more time they have to build a solid defense. In New Jersey, a DWI is an offense that requires skilled and aggressive representation.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience and credentials to defend and counsel people who've acquired DWI charges. He will explain your pending charges, build a solid defense and work towards getting your charges reduced or dropped. For more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm either online or by phone at 888-535-3686.