When you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror, a fun night with friends can quickly turn into the worst night of your life. Maybe you had two beers, or perhaps you had a couple more than two beers. You are not sure if you are going to pass a breathalyzer test. You decide refusing a breathalyzer is your best option, but you are not sure if you can legally do so.

A license implies consent

New Jersey is an implied consent state. When you are issued a New Jersey license, you consent to taking a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test, if pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. However, you can still technically refuse to take a breathalyzer test.

What happens if you refuse?

There are several things that can happen when you refuse a breathalyzer. The police may take you in and ask to have your blood drawn. If you are afraid of needles, you could also refuse a blood test. However, that does not mean you will just walk away from the situation.

When you will not take a breathalyzer test, you face charges for refusal. These penalties are not insignificant. You may face:

  • 1st refusal: Loss of your license for one to three years and fines ranging from $600 to $1,000
  • 2nd refusal: loss of your license for four years and fines of $1,000 to $2,000
  • 3rd refusal: Loss of your license for 20 years if near a school when pulled over and fines of $2,000

In addition to these possible penalties, you may still be charged with DWI, if there is evidence to support the accusation. This evidence could include the officer’s testimony or eyewitness accounts.

It is possible to refuse a breathalyzer test in New Jersey, but the penalties if convicted are severe. It is also no guarantee that you will not face DWI charges.