Breath testing and breathalyzer testing devices are common in DUI and DWI cases throughout New Jersey. These tests work by measuring alcohol on a person’s breath and using that information to calculate a blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Whether you have to submit to these tests depends on your situation and when the test is administered.
People often think breath testing is one single test and that you must submit. While it is true that you sometimes are required to submit to testing, there are different kinds of tests, and you do not have to submit to all of them. Official chemical testing that occurs after arrest may consist of breathalyzer tests and is often legally required. Breath tests administered before your arrest, often along the road where you are stopped, are not required, and you can refuse.
Even when you are not legally required to submit to a breath test, you might feel like you have to because saying no to a police officer is hard. Our New Jersey DUI defense attorneys can help you challenge the test results in your case. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free case review.
Breath Testing in New Jersey
Breath testing is one of the most common methods of assessing a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The test results may be used to arrest you or in court, depending on how the test was administered. You might even know that refusing to submit to testing could lead to additional criminal charges. However, there are different types of breath testing, and each has different legal requirements.
Breath testing where drivers must submit or face legal consequences is part of official chemical testing. Official chemical testing results can be used against you in court, and refusal to submit will result in more charges and an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. This kind of test is given after you have already been arrested for a DUI or DWI.
A preliminary breath test (PBT) is given before you are arrested. This test is often administered while you are still in your car at the scene of the DUI. The device used for testing is smaller and portable, but the results can be less accurate and are not admissible in court. This form of testing is used only to establish probable cause to arrest you and cannot be admitted in court. Our Atlantic City DWI defense attorneys can help you challenge the results of either form of breath testing.
Preliminary Breath Tests in New Jersey
As stated previously, a preliminary breath test is typically given before you are arrested but after the police have already stopped you. This is often the form of breath testing that comes to mind when people think of breath tests. In many circumstances, the test is given at the scene of the DUI, sometimes in your own car. The devices used for these tests are small and portable, with some people referring to this test as portable breath tests.
Remember, this form of testing is not legally required, and you do not have to consent. The results of this test can only be used to help the officer establish probable cause to arrest you for a DUI. The test results from a PBT cannot be used as evidence in court.
You can challenge these tests results if the prosecutor attempts to bring them up as evidence. If you believe a PBT was inaccurate or administered improperly, we could challenge the validity of your entire arrest. If your PBT was indeed wrong, this could be a major boon for your case. Our Ocean City DUI defense lawyers can help you fight any inaccurate test results.
Breath Testing for Official Chemical Testing in New Jersey
Breath testing in conjunction with official chemical testing differs from a PBT. Official chemical testing sometimes includes blood or urine testing, but breathalyzer testing is often the test of choice. According to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2, drivers must submit to official chemical testing in accordance with implied consent laws.
Implied consent laws state that drivers in New Jersey have already given their consent to be chemically tested in connection with a DUI by virtue of operating a vehicle on the road. In short, simply by driving a car, you have indirectly consented to be chemically tested for a DUI.
If you do not want to submit to chemical testing, the law enforcement officials administering the test are required to warn you of the consequences of refusal. These consequences, found under N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50.4a, include the loss of your driver’s license until you install an ignition interlock device in your car. For subsequent refusals in future DUI cases, your penalties will increase.
The results of a breath test related to official chemical testing can be challenged just like a PBT. If the test was improperly administered or the breathalyzer machine was malfunctioning, the validity of the test and its result can be questioned. However, you can also challenge your charges for refusal if the police did not adequately warn you about the consequences.
Penalties for Refusal to Take a Breath Test in New Jersey
Much like DUIs in general, the consequences of refusal to submit to official chemical testing can vary based on your driving history. If you have been arrested for DUIs in the past and refused to submit to testing previously, a subsequent refusal will be punished more harshly. Talk to our New Jersey DUI defense lawyers about how to challenge the penalties for a refusal to submit to chemical testing.
For a first-time refusal to submit to a post-arrest breath test, you will automatically lose your driver’s license until you install an ignition interlock device in your car. This device is like a breath test connected to your vehicle and prevents your car from starting if alcohol is detected on your breath.
For a second refusal in a subsequent DUI case, you will lose your license for at least 1 year but no more than 2 in addition to installing an ignition interlock device. A third or any additional refusal to submit to chemical testing will cost you your license for 8 years. The penalties for refusal can be very serious, and our Sea Isle City DUI defense lawyers can help you protect yourself.
Call Our New Jersey Breath Test Defense Lawyers
If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, you may need an attorney to help you sort out the extent of your charges and penalties. Our Cape May DUI and DWI defense lawyers can assist you. Contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych by calling (609) 616-4956 for a free case evaluation.