It’s often said that the capability to drive a motor vehicle isn’t a privilege; it’s a right that has to be earned. Aspiring motorists must pass driving tests to get a license. The responsibilities don’t stop there; drivers must continue to obey traffic laws and drive as safely as possible to keep their licenses.
Another responsibility drivers must remember is that when driving on New Jersey roads, they automatically agree to the state’s “implied consent” rule. This rule means that when driving on state roads, motorists give their consent to undergo breath tests when pulled over for suspected driving while intoxicated (DWI).
While the rule says drivers consent to taking breath samples, drivers still have the choice to refuse an officer’s request to undergo a breathalyzer test on the spot. This is ill-advised, as refusal to submit violates the law as much as a DWI.
The penalties for refusing a breathalyzer in New Jersey are severe and mirror those of a DWI conviction, particularly regarding license suspensions. The penalties also become more stringent the more offenses the driver commits. They include:
- First offense: The driver forfeits their right to operate a motor vehicle unless they have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on their vehicle. An IID locks the engine from starting unless it can detect no alcohol from the driver’s breath, much like a breathalyzer. The driver must also pay fines from $300 to $500.
- Second offense: The driver forfeits their right to operate a motor vehicle for up to two years following the installation of an IID in one vehicle. The driver must also pay fines from $500 to $1,000.
- Third or subsequent offense: The driver forfeits their right to operate a motor vehicle for up to eight years following the installation of an IID in one vehicle. The driver must also pay a $1,000 fine.
In addition to these penalties, a court may order the driver to take part in a mandatory intoxicated driver resource center program.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re asked to take a breath test, remember that refusal can complicate your situation and lead to penalties as severe as those for a DWI conviction. Consider seeking legal counsel if you face charges related to testing refusal.