What If I Refuse the Breathalyzer Test?

What penalties do I face if I refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test in New Jersey?

Law enforcement officers across New Jersey are on the look-out for potentially intoxicated drivers.  Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense in the state that can result in loss of your license, time in jail, fines, and more.  Being pulled over and asked to submit to a breathalyzer test is a frightening experience.  Drivers will often wonder whether they have to submit to the breathalyzer test and what will happen if they refuse.  Our DWI/DUI criminal defense attorneys discuss the consequences of refusing the breathalyzer test below.

Implied Consent

When you apply for and receive a driver’s license in the state of New Jersey, you give implied consent to submit for chemical tests when requested.  Chemical tests could include breath, blood, and urine samples.  Accordingly, if you are lawfully arrested for a DUI offense, you are legally required to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Refusing to Submit

If you refuse to submit to the breathalyzer test, you will face potential charges for refusal.  Refusal can include explicit refusal, silence, failing to blow hard enough, and the like.  New Jersey has some of the harshest penalties for refusal in the nation. Individuals that refuse a breathalyzer test could face the same penalties as a DUI conviction, including loss of driving privileges and significant fines.  

Defenses to Refusal

If you have been charged with refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test, there are several defenses you could potentially raise.  These include:

  • Failure to read you your rights and warnings:  Officers must comply with protocol by informing you of your legal rights and the potential consequences if you refuse the test.  
  • Confusion:  You may be able to raise the confusion doctrine if the police confused you by reading your Miranda rights and the test warnings at the same time. Individuals at times believe that the right to remain silent equates to their right to refuse the test through silence.
  • Lack of probable cause:  You can contest the refusal charges if you can establish the officer lack probable cause to initiate your arrest.  

These are just a few of defense you could raise against refusal charges.  Anyone facing DUI charges or refusal charges should contact our criminal defense attorneys at Sitzler & Sitzler as soon as possible.