male driver holding his hand up to refuse a breathalyzer test held by a police officer's outstretched hand

NJ DWI/DUI Breath Test Refusal Penalties

Getting pulled over and accused of driving while intoxicated can be a frightening and overwhelming experience. One of the first things a law enforcement officer may ask is for you to take a breathalyzer test. Do you have to comply? What happens if you refuse a breath test in New Jersey?

At William Proetta Criminal Law, our DWI and DUI defense lawyers understand the pressure people feel when they are pulled over because they’re suspected of driving while intoxicated. We want to help you know what can happen when you refuse a breath test in New Jersey, the potential penalties associated with a DWI or DUI test refusal, and how we can help.

Contact us today for a free consultation. It is totally confidential and comes without any further obligations.

Can You Refuse a DUI/DWI Breath Test in New Jersey?

You can be charged with DWI/DUI in New Jersey if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher or if you are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or hallucinogens. “Under the influence” means that a driver’s mental or physical faculties are substantially diminished due to drugs or alcohol in their system.

If law enforcement pulls you over and wants to arrest you for DWI/DUI, their next move is typically to request that you take a breath test so they can measure your BAC.

Can you refuse to take a breath test in New Jersey? The answer is complicated. Technically, yes, you can refuse to take a breath test. However, you must expect to face consequences if you do. What happens if you refuse a breathalyzer test in New Jersey? If you refuse a breath test, you can face fines and potentially lose your driver’s license.

New Jersey has implied consent laws. That means when you drive a motor vehicle in New Jersey, you are deemed to have given your consent to chemical tests if you’re stopped on suspicion of DUI/DWI. All individuals lawfully arrested for DWI/DUI must submit to a breath test to determine their BAC. When you refuse to take a breath test after your arrest, you violate New Jersey law and can face stiff legal consequences.

Consequences of Refusing to Submit to a DUI/DWI Breath Test in New Jersey

What is the penalty for refusing a breath test? It depends on the number of refusal offenses on your record. Breathalyzer refusal penalties under the New Jersey implied consent law can include the following:

Breathalyzer test refusal first offense penalties:

  • Fines between $300 and $500
  • License suspension until an ignition interlock device (IID) is installed

Breathalyzer test refusal second offense penalties:

  • Fines between $500 and $1,000
  • License suspension between one to two years after IID installation

Breathalyzer test refusal third offense penalties:

  • Fines up to $1,000
  • License revocation up to eight years after IID installation

In addition to mandatory fines and driver’s license suspension, individuals must take mandatory educational classes at an Intoxicated Driving Resource Center, which can charge up to $230 per day for classes. Drivers who refuse a breath test may also see annual surcharge penalties on their auto insurance premiums of $1,000 to $1,500 for three years, depending on how many previous refusal offenses are on their record.

Penalties for Juveniles Who Refuse Breath Tests

New Jersey also follows a zero-tolerance policy for underage driving while intoxicated. Instead of using the legal limit of 0.08 percent, juveniles can face DUI/DWI penalties with a BAC of just 0.01 percent.

A juvenile can face severe penalties, including driver’s license suspension, community service, and mandatory participation in an alcohol education and highway safety program at their own expense. Juvenile drivers can also face penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test.

Breathalyzer Test Refusal Warning

In New Jersey, law enforcement officers must explain the penalties for refusing a BAC test before administering a breath test. Officers have a script they recite to drivers provided by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office that advises the driver of the consequences of refusing to take a breath test.

How to Beat a Refusing a Breathalyzer Charge

You can fight back against a DWI/DUI test refusal charge. At William Proetta Criminal Law, our drunk driving defense lawyers can review your unique situation and devise a strategic plan to push back against the charges against you. The strategies we employ heavily depend on your situation, which is why we are committed to providing personalized legal advice.

Some of the common strategies that may help defend you against a DWI/DUI breathalyzer refusal charge in New Jersey include:

  • Questioning probable cause – Law enforcement must have probable cause and reasonable suspicion to pull you over and arrest you for DWI/DUI. Our defense attorney could argue officers did not have probable cause to suspect you had been drinking because you did not exhibit signs that your mental or physical capabilities were diminished before they pulled you over.
  • Medical emergency – You were not intoxicated at the time of the incident. Instead, you were suffering a medical emergency that mimics the signs of intoxication, like a diabetic emergency.
  • Failure to advise you of your legal rights – The arresting officer must give you a breath testing refusal warning and advise you of your legal rights when you’re under arrest.
  • Failure to understand instructions – Some people may have language barriers, hearing impairment, or disabilities that prevent them from understanding an officer’s instructions. Your lawyer could argue that the refusal was not intentional but resulted from a communication issue.

Instead of talking with police officers, remain silent and contact our New Jersey criminal defense attorney for help. At William Proetta Criminal Law, we want to help you fight back against DWI/DUI test refusal charges. You deserve aggressive legal representation.

Contact a DWI/DUI Defense Attorney Today

At William Proetta Criminal Law, our law offices have an extensive track record of helping individuals in New Jersey obtain favorable outcomes for their situations, including when a driver refuses a blood alcohol test. We are honest, straightforward, and ready to tackle any challenge that comes our way. We understand that facing charges for refusing a breathalyzer test can be intimidating. A conviction can throw your life into disarray and make it challenging to get to work and generate an income.

Don’t jeopardize your future by fighting this charge solo. Contact our New Jersey office immediately and talk to a DWI/DUI defense attorney about your situation.