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Can You Refuse a Blood Test in New Jersey if You Are Arrested for DUI?


10/14/2019

In the event of a DUI stop, most people are intimidated by the police and wind up incriminating themselves. Others refuse to cooperate and make the situation worse. In the heat of the moment, it is critical to keep a level head and know your rights. Knowing what you are required to do and what you can refuse can make a big difference in the case the police are trying to build against you.

If you’ve been charged with DUI, the best thing you can do is hire an experienced DUI defense lawyer. They can evaluate the evidence against, challenge the prosecution’s case, and help you get a fair result. Camden DUI defense attorney Lauren Wimmer will provide an aggressive defense and fight for your rights every step of the way. Call us today at 215-712-1212 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation about your case.

DUI Basics in New Jersey

It is against New Jersey law to drive while under the influence of drugs or with a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than .08%. A DUI arrest starts with a traffic stop, which can be for any reason whatsoever – it could be something as simple as a broken tail light. At that point, the offer may suspect that you are driving while under the influence and require that you perform field sobriety tests. Depending on the outcome of those tests, the officer may then ask you to submit to a breathalyzer to determine whether you are under the influence of alcohol.

New Jersey’s Implied Consent Law

Like many other states, New Jersey has what is referred to as an “implied consent” law. Under the law, you are given a driver’s license on the condition that you will submit to a breathalyzer test if you are suspected of driving while under the influence. Refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test is a separate charge with its own consequences in addition to the charges you may also be facing for DUI. The bottom line is that you cannot refuse a breathalyzer test without facing serious consequences, even if you aren’t charged with DUI or eventually acquitted.

Blood Tests and the Fourth Amendment

There are situations where the police may want you to take a blood test, such as when the police suspect that you have been driving while under the influence of drugs. The circumstances under which the police can compel a blood test are complicated, however.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. In the 2013 case Birchfield v North Dakota, the Supreme Court ruled that warrantless blood tests were a violation of the Fourth Amendment but upheld implied consent laws that require drivers to submit to breathalyzer tests. As a result, the police can compel you to take a breathalyzer, but cannot require you to take a blood test without a warrant. To be clear, the police can require you to submit to a blood test if they have obtained a warrant.

Scenarios Where You Might Face a Blood Test

Because the police can require you to submit, the use of breathalyzer tests in DUI stops is very common. However, they may need you to submit to a blood test in certain situations:

  • You were injured in an accident and unable to perform the breathalyzer test
  • You decided to face the consequences and refused to take a breathalyzer test
  • The officer suspects that you were driving while under the influence of drugs
  • You cannot take the breathalyzer test, or the officer believes the result will not be accurate

Again, the police will need to obtain a warrant to compel you to submit to a blood test. If they ask you to take one without a warrant, however, you can refuse without any additional legal consequences, unlike with a breathalyzer test.

Defenses to a DUI Charge Based on a Blood Test

If you are charged with DUI based on a blood test, it’s important to remember that the prosecution must prove their case in order to convict you. An experienced New Jersey DUI defense lawyer can defend you against these charges by using one or more of the following defenses.

The police did not have probable cause to pull you over.

In order to affect a traffic stop, they must have probable cause that you were violating the law. For example, they observed you driving erratically or committing a traffic violation.

The police did not have probable cause to support the DUI charge.

The officer should not be able to obtain a warrant unless they have probable cause to support the charge. If you passed the field sobriety tests and presented no other symptoms of being under the influence, the officer likely did not have probable cause to obtain a warrant.

The blood testing procedure was flawed.

The blood testing procedure is very complex, with several steps that can be mishandled, resulting in a false positive. An experienced DUI defense lawyer will know how to challenge the following:

  • The way in which police obtained the blood sample
  • The way in which authorities stored the blood sample
  • The chain of custody of the samples to ensure that they were not contaminated or otherwise tampered with or mishandled
  • Whether the testing equipment was clean and in good working order

The Possible Penalties You Are Facing

For most people, DUI charges are perhaps the most serious charges you can face. The severity of the consequences will depend mainly on your BAC and whether you have prior DUI convictions. The potential consequences of a first-time DUI conviction are as follows:

  • A minimum of 12 hours up to 30 days in jail
  • Driver’s license suspension for three months
  • Fines between $250 and $400
  • Over $1,500 in annual insurance surcharges and other fees
  • Alcohol or substance abuse assessment and treatment
  • Ignition interlock device anywhere from six to 12 months

Those penalties increase if you had a BAC of .10% or higher or you have prior convictions.

Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a New Jersey DUI Defense Attorney

If you’ve been charged with DUI, the most important thing you can do is not give up. The prosecution wants you to believe that the case against you is open-and-shut, but this is rarely the case. DUI defense lawyer Lauren Wimmer uses her extensive knowledge and experience to help people charged with DUI in New Jersey. Aggressive and deeply dedicated, she will fight for your rights and get you a fair result. If you would like to schedule a free consultation, contact us at 215-712-1212 to learn more about how we can help you.