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Do I Have to Consent to a Breath Test in New Jersey?

When a person is suspected of drunk driving, the police may ask for a breath sample. In New Jersey, when you get your driver’s license, you give what is called “implied consent” to submit to blood tests, urine tests and breath tests when an officer orders them. If you refuse a chemical test, then you could be charged with refusal in addition to drunk driving, and a refusal could result in the same penalties as a DWI conviction.

Here let’s talk about what constitutes breath test refusal under the law.

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that police must read an additional statement if a driver refuses to give a breath sample. The officer should read the additional statement if the driver does any of the following after the officer asks for a breath test:

  • Gives an ambiguous or conditional response
  • Remains silent
  • Says that he or she will not give a breath sample on the grounds that he or she has a right to remain silent
  • Says that he or she would first like to speak with a lawyer, doctor or other person

The police officer’s additional statement in part says that you do not have “a right to refuse to give, or to delay giving, samples of your breath for the purpose of making chemical tests to determine the content of alcohol in your blood.” Refusing to give a breath sample will result in a separate summons being issued.

To read the full additional statement and how it relates to an important case heard by the New Jersey Supreme Court, please see our article on what constitutes a breath test refusal in New Jersey.


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