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Can you face DUI conviction even if you refuse a breath test?

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | DWI Defense |

When law enforcement officers suspect a driver of being under the influence, they may request a breath test. The goal is to measure the driver’s blood alcohol concentration level.

However, some drivers in New Jersey refuse, as is their right. They may think refusal means they cannot get convicted. However, you can still face conviction.

Implied consent law

New Jersey, like many other states, has an implied consent law. If you have a driver’s license in New Jersey, you agree to submit to chemical testing if arrested for DUI. Refusal to comply with this implied consent can result in administrative penalties, such as license suspension.

Consequences of refusal

Refusing a breath test may seem like a way to avoid evidence against you. However, it can actually work against your case. Prosecutors can use your refusal as evidence of consciousness of guilt. They may suggest you refused the test because you knew you met a level of intoxication. This can strengthen their argument for DUI conviction.

Evidence and testimony

In DUI cases with a breath test refusal, prosecutors rely on other forms of evidence. These forms may include arresting officer observations, such as slurred speech, erratic driving behavior and failed field sobriety tests. Witness testimony, dashcam footage and any statements made by the defendant can also build a case.

Penalties for DUI conviction

DUI penalties can be severe. They may include fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, community service and even jail time. The penalties are harsher for repeat offenders and in cases involving aggravating factors such as accidents or injuries.

New Jersey drivers must understand the potential consequences of refusing a breath test and make informed decisions when faced with a DUI arrest.