DUI Attorney: Refusing Sobriety Tests and Breath Tests


Do I have to take a field sobriety test?

No. You have the right to refuse to take the field sobriety tests which test your balance. There is no punishment for refusing the test; however, the officer may take your refusal as an indication of intoxication and may, should other evidence be found, arrest you and will probably report your refusal to the judge, who may assume you would have failed the test.  By refusing to perform the tests you provide the State with less evidence to convict you.  An inference is rebuttable, a clear failure on the sobriety tests are harder to overcome.

Can I refuse to take a breath test?

No. By driving on the roads of New Jersey, according to statute, “Any person who operates a motor vehicle on any public road, street or highway or quasi-public area in this State shall be deemed to have given his consent to the taking of samples of his breath for the purpose of making chemical tests to determine the content of alcohol in his blood.”

Can I refuse to give a breath sample to a New Jersey police officer?

No. While there may be no harm in refusing the field sobriety tests, a balance test, refusal to breath into a machine such as the alcotest is a separate charge.  You will automatically lose your license for anywhere from seven months to two years, and face a steep fine, insurance surcharge, and an increase in your insurance premiums for three years.  You cannot speak to your doctor or lawyer before taking the exam.

Are there any defenses to refusing to take a breath test?

Yes. They are varied and require a thorough understanding of your case.  Please call me as soon as possible after your arrest to discuss your case.

What if I am convicted of both DUI and refusing to take the test?

You will be sentenced for both violations, and your suspensions and potential jail time will be consecutive. In other words, your penalties will essentially double. In many situations, an experienced attorney can prevent this from happening.  Keep in mind that you will also face two insurance surcharges.  In total you will $6,000 in surcharges for an annual payment of $2,000 over three years.

Do the same penalties for DUI apply to refusing to take a breath test?

They are similar.   First offense:  $433 to $633 – IDRC 12 to 48 hours – loss of license seven months to one year – Interlock six months to one year.   Second Offense:  $633 to $1133 – IDRC 48 hours – loss of license for two years – Interlock ignition for one to three years.   Third Offense: $1133 – loss of license 10 years – Interlock ignition for one to three years   For each offense you will also face an insurance surcharge of $3,000 payable in three payments of $1,000 per year for three years.   Convictions for similar offenses in other jurisdictions count as prior offenses.

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