For officers to stop your vehicle, they typically need reasonable suspicion. This is a comparatively low legal threshold that is usually not difficult to satisfy. For example, an officer may develop the necessary reasonable suspicion by seeing you speed, tailgate, swerve or violate other traffic laws. Even having a vehicle with a burned-out tail light is sufficient.
Before officers can arrest you, however, they must have probable cause. When it comes to an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, this probable cause often comes from a failed breath test. Even though you have a right to refuse to take the breath test, you may face some harsh consequences for doing so.
New Jersey’s implied consent law
While an officer cannot force you to breathe into a testing device, New Jersey has an implied consent law. Pursuant to this law, you have already given your consent for DUI breath testing simply by choosing to drive on roadways in the Garden State.
According to the Office of the Attorney General, it is unlawful to refuse to provide a breath sample. This means you may face charges both for refusing to participate in DUI breath testing and for the underlying DUI offense itself.
The state’s burden
You have certain due process rights. One of these requires prosecutors to prove each element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the DUI breath test is the only evidence the state has against you, it may be worthwhile to refuse to submit a breath sample.
Ultimately, because there are serious consequences for opting out of a breath test, you should carefully consider all your options before refusing to provide a sample.