Getting pulled over for drunk driving can be a scary and confusing experience, made even worse when the individual is charged with additional offenses. Many people are under the impression that they can prevent law enforcement from gathering evidence by refusing to field sobriety tests, the portable breathalyzer test (PBT) or chemical test after arrest. However, this action can add even more penalties and driving restrictions.
Implied consent laws
Under implied consent laws in all 50 states, driving is a privilege, not a right. A driver’s license is a permit that allows an individual to drive on a public road. In exchange for that permission, the driver implicitly consents to abide by the laws administered by law enforcement, which include taking a chemical test if the officer suspects that they are driving under the influence (DUI).
It is estimated that over 20% of alleged drunk drivers in the United States refuse to take a breathalyzer or other BAC test when a police officer arrests them on charges of DUI. Although the defendant will have a stronger case without such incriminating evidence that backs up the officer’s suspicion, breaking implied consent laws carry stiff penalties as well.
DUI and implied consent penalties in New Jersey
Under New Jersey DUI laws, a DUI may be proven using evidence based on observation, with or without a BAC test result. The state’s DUI charges carry stiff fines even for a first offense, and there are several categories for driving impaired by illegal or prescription drugs and both per se blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and implied consent offenses. These categories include:
- Per se BAC limit of 0.08%
- Zero tolerance BAC limit of 0.02% for underage drivers
- Enhanced or aggravated BAC limit of 0.10%
- Implied consent to submit to an Alcotest/Breathalyzer test
On refusal to submit to a BAC test, the suspect may be taken to a hospital where a blood test will be taken. Penalties for refusal to submit to implied consent laws are similar to a DUI conviction.
Mounting an appeal of license suspension for refusal, or of the arrest for drunk driving, rests on the effectiveness of challenging the evidence gathered in the officer’s probable cause arrest. Even where sobriety breathalyzer test results are obtained, the evidence can be challenged. With the help of an experienced legal defense team serving Northern New Jersey, it is possible to fight charges and limit the damage done even if there is a conviction.