New Jersey Court Rules Silence At DWI Scene Cannot Be Used To Prove Guilt
A New Jersey court ruled this week that a suspect’s silence at the scene of a DWI/DUI and/or car accident cannot be used against the person to prove guilt. This is a significant ruling as there have been cases when a person’s silence in the face of questioning in the DWI/DUI context has been used to prove that the person is intoxicated. The idea here is that if someone is intoxicated that they are too drunk or high to answer simple questions or even more complex questions.
This ruling points to the increased use of a breathlyzer test as the single most important factor in DWI cases. If properly administered with by a qualified police officer, it is very difficult to overcome its finding. However, a skilled DWI attorney can, in the appopriate case, successfully challenge the test.
It is also important to note that the court’s ruling this week does not change the law which requires a person who the police have arrested for DWI from taking a breathlyzer test. This test is not given at the scene of the arrest and the right to remain silent is not implicated as the test does not involve actual conversation but blowing into a tube.