Fighting A DWI Refusal Charge In NJ
“Can I fight DWI Refusal Charges in New Jersey?”
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DWI refusal 39:4-50.4a charges result from a situation in which you are pulled over for a DWI and are asked to submit a breath test reading, but refuse to do so. Even if you choose not to respond to the officer, you will still be charged; “no response” still counts as a refusal. These charges are prosecuted under the same statute as all DWI charges, and the penalties are just as serious.
Refusing a breath test is not a good move from the standpoint of a person being pulled over. If saying to the officer, “No… you can’t breath test me,” actually worked, there would be very few DWI convictions.
Additionally, you give yourself far fewer defense options when it actually comes time to deal with this case in court. Challenging the reported BAC reading and the processes used to test your breath are excellent DWI defenses. Even so, while DWI refusal 39:4-50.4a are harder to beat than normal DWI charges, they can still be beaten.
The first logical defense for a refusal charge is to challenge the motor vehicle stop itself. Police officer make errors frequently, and if they didn’t pull you over for legitimate reasons, your case should be dismissed.
For example, if the police officer pulls you over for having the middle brake light out (the one right behind your rear wind-shield), or for driving over a dotted line without other cars on the road, it’s an illegitimate stoppage, and all that results from the stoppage will be discarded in court. That means any DWI charges, refusal, or even possession charges are gone.
Another way to fight refusal charges is to challenge the probable cause for even asking to test your breath. For example, if you actually passed the field sobriety tests but the officer said that you failed, you can have your charges dismissed. If the officer failed to administer the field sobriety tests correctly, you can have your charges dismissed. That means counting incorrectly, or even explaining the test incorrectly.
When charged for refusal, you are expected to sign a form and be explained the details of your charge. If the officer doesn’t explain refusal correctly, or makes an error on the form, you can have the charges dismissed
There are a lot of options when it comes to how to beat refusal charges; it’s just a matter of contacting an experienced NJ DWI lawyer in order to handle the matter.
A final note: DWI refusal only applies to breath testing. It does not apply to blood testing. Refusal to submit to a blood test is not a valid charge. There are circumstances where the State can take your blood and others where they can not. It is essential that you contact a DWI who knows New Jersey law to navigate these sometimes complex issues.
Fell free to call my office any time for a free consultation, I’m happy to discuss your case with you over the phone.