Should You Ever Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

 Whether you are a fan of police or law shows on television or in the movies, you are probably familiar with them. You’ve seen accused criminals refusing to cooperate with police, claiming that they “know their rights”, that they want to speak to their lawyers. But when it comes to real life, can you really do that? For example, when it comes to DUI law, if you are pulled over by a police officer can you refuse to cooperate? Should you ever refuse a breathalyzer test?

Though you might think that you can get away with this – that the police need a search warrant in order to legally make you take one – the truth is that refusing to take a breathalyzer test is one of the worst things you can do. In the state of New Jersey, in order to get your driver’s license you provide what is known as “implied consent” to submitting to this test whenever the police ask for one. The little voice inside your head may be saying that the police need proof that you’re driving while intoxicated, and that when you refuse the test it will be your word against the police. The reality is that if you turn down taking the test you will automatically be arrested because of your refusal. The police will take you directly to a hospital where your blood will be drawn – that test will be far more accurate, and far more difficult to argue against, then a breathalyzer would have been. Furthermore, simply as a result of refusing to take a breathalyzer test you will be subject to the exact same penalties that you would be for driving under the influence, even if you were sober.  For a first time offender, those penalties can include:

  • Loss of your driver’s license for between 7 months and a year, or 1-2 two years if you were driving in a school zone. A fine of $300 to $500, or $600 to $1,000 if you were driving in a school zone. You will also have to pay an assortment of fees including $100 to the drunk driving fund, $100 to the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund, a $1,000 per year surcharge on your auto insurance for a period of three years, and $75 o the Neighborhood Services Fund. You will also have to attend a minimum of 12 hours of Intoxicated Driver Resource Center education.

Though it may seem like a confession of guilt to submit to a breathalyzer test, you have a much better chance of facing a reduced charge or having your case dismissed if you cooperate with the police. At Erik B. Jensen and Associates we have extensive experience in providing our clients with knowledgeable legal representation designed to minimize the penalties that you face. Call us immediately to discuss your case.