If you are pulled over on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, the DWI process will begin. This process consists of various tests that are intended to gauge the impairment of a motorist, most of which are admissible in court. Some DWI tests can be refused, while others warrant legal repercussions if refused.
For the purposes of this article, the Lento Law Firm will provide you with some insight about DWI tests and how they will be conducted before and after an arrest.
Field Sobriety Tests
Law enforcement agents in New Jersey administer field sobriety tests to motorists suspected of driving under the influence to assess if they were intoxicated or otherwise impaired while behind the wheel. These tests challenge the balance, memory, coordination and motor skills of suspected drivers, and are essentially used to establish probable cause for an arrest.
If you pass a field sobriety test means you won't likely be arrested and will be let go with a warning. Failing a field sobriety test, however, will lead an officer to conclude that you were driving with an unlawful quantity of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both in your system. At this point, an arrest is legally justified.
There are two types of field sobriety tests: standardized and non-standardized. Both are admissible as evidence in court. Standardized tests are endorsed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to NHTSA, three tests known as the (1) horizontal gaze nystagmus test, (2) the walk-and-turn test, and the (3) one-leg stand test accurately predict impairment. Non-standardized tests are also administered by officers, these include non-traditional testing methods like asking drivers to count down backwards, or to recite their ABCs.
Although field sobriety tests are widely accepted as evidence in DWI cases, many people still pose the question of if they're reliable methods of determining impairment. The short answer, according to experts, is no. Research has shown that the effectiveness of these tests depend on if the arresting officer conducts the test properly and how accurately an officer can indicate signs of impairment. Although the accuracy of officers has improved with the help of training, many experts and legal professionals believe that there is still a lot of room for error.
Breath and Blood Tests
If after a field sobriety test an officer still has reason to believe you're impaired, he will request that you take a breath and/or blood test to determine your BAC and to confirm their suspicion of impairment.
There are two types of breath tests.
Portable Breath Test
The portable breath test (PBT), also known as a breathalyzer, is administered on site. After a field sobriety test, you'll be asked to breathe in this device. It will then determine whether or not there's a substantial amount of alcohol in your system. Passing this test will give an officer additional probable cause to arrest you. Motorists over the age of 21 can decline a PBT test without legal repercussions. Drivers under the age of 21, however, cannot.
The evidential breath test (EBT) is the more accurate breath test. It is a large, stationary machine that is usually kept at the police station. Refusing to take an EBT test is a violation of the implied consent law.
A blood test consists of taking a sample of your blood to measure the quantity of chemical substances in it. An officer isn't qualified to administer this test, only a licensed phlebotomist, nurse, or doctor can. Blood tests are the most reliable method of testing because they assess the exact amount of chemical content in one's blood at the time of the draw when everything is done properly. Refusing to take a blood test is a violation of New Jersey's implied consent law.
Refusing Tests - New Jersey's Implied Consent Law
It is illegal to refuse a blood, breath, or urine test after a lawful arrest due to New Jersey's “implied consent” law. When motorists get their license in this state, they implicitly agree that they will follow through with any testing requested as a stipulation after being arrested for driving under the influence.
There's some incentive to take the test upon an officer's request, even though the result may not be favorable. Refusing any testing for chemical analysis has legal ramifications, including a 7-month license suspension for first-time offenders, a 2-year license suspension for second-time offenders, and a 10-year license suspension for third-time offenders. Also, depending on the nature of the offense, hundreds of dollars in fines may be imposed.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
The results of DWI tests will significantly influence the outcome of a case. A small detail could lead to additional charges or a more severe sentence. Whatever the circumstance may be, it's in your best interest to secure the representation of an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.
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.