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Recent DWI Developments

Two recent developments in the area of DWI law are going to have a significant impact on people charged with DWI. The first development concerns an Appellate Division case which upheld the standard statement which the police read to suspects in police headquarters advising them that they have no right to refuse to take the breath test. Previous attempts to attack the statement had met with some success which was mostly limited to a challenge based on failure to speak English.

What most people fail to understand is that the refusal to submit to the breath test is a violation itself. The penalties for refusal to take the test are more harsh than DWI itself. In addition, someone can be charged, and usually is, with both refusal to take the breath test and DWI. For a first offense of refusal, the penalties are revocation of the driver’s license for a minimum of seven months up to a year. The license suspension can be consecutive or concurrent with the license suspension for the DWI conviction. The person must also attend 12 hours at the Intoxicated Driver’s Resource Center and fines of $300 to $500 which are additional to the fines for the DWI conviction that usually goes with the refusal conviction. In addition, the ignition interlock must be installed for the period of suspension and for six months after the suspension period ends. The bottom line is that there is absolutely no advantage to you in refusing to take the breath test. You will be charged with this offense which is easy for the State to prove.

The second development concerns the breath test machine the police use which is known as the Alcotest 7110 MCIII-C. This machine was found to be scientifically reliable by the New Jersey Supreme Court after two years of litigation. The manufacturer of the Alcotest machine, Draeger, has notified the police that they will end warranty and technical support for the machine in 2016. The effect of this change is unknown as the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has not notified anyone what they intend to do concerning the continued use of the machine. Whether they will continue to use the machine or replace it remains to be seen. Either way, a new round of challenges to the Alcotest machine or whatever machine replaces it is likely. However, for the time being nothing has changed.

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