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What is implied consent during a DWI stop?

On Behalf of | Jan 27, 2022 | Criminal Law |

If you enjoy drinking alcohol away from home, you understand the importance of arranging a sober ride home. After all, driving while intoxicated is likely to land you in handcuffs. If your arrest becomes a conviction, of course, you also may experience some harsh legal penalties.

Officers cannot arrest you on a whim, as they must have probable cause to support a DWI arrest. This probable cause often comes from a suspect’s failure of an alcohol breath test. Still, because of New Jersey’s implied consent law, it can be risky to refuse to take one.

A condition of your driving privileges

According to the New Jersey State Police, officers conduct more than 25,000 DWI breath tests each year. When you applied for your New Jersey driver’s license, you automatically gave implied consent for this testing. Even if you do not have a driver’s license from the Garden State, you offer implied consent for breath testing simply by driving on the state’s roads.

Consequences for non-compliance

While you have already consented to give officers a breath sample, they cannot hold you down and force you to breathe into a testing device. Simply put, you have a legal right to refuse the test. Doing so, though, exposes you to some immediate and severe consequences. These include the following:

  • For a first-time refusal, a seven-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • For a second-time refusal, a two-year suspension of your driver’s license
  • For a third-time or subsequent refusal, a 10-year suspension of your driver’s license

Even if you refuse to submit a breath sample, officers may develop probable cause to arrest you in other ways. Ultimately, because living without your driver’s license may be difficult, it is advisable to understand all your legal options before either taking or refusing to take a DWI breath test.