DWI Checkpoints: You Can Refuse, But Should You?

In an effort to cut back on auto accidents caused by drunk drivers, DWI checkpoints (also referred to as “sobriety checkpoints”) have popped up on major roadways across most of America over the course of the past several decades. Every state that uses the checkpoint system conducts their stops with differing frequencies — and different consequences for refusing. So while yes, you are technically allowed to refuse to have your BAC tested in New Jersey — should you?

How DWI Checkpoints Work in New Jersey

There are 12 states in America that do not conduct sobriety checkpoints, citing unconstitutionality — but New Jersey is not one of them. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, DWI checkpoints in New Jersey are considered perfectly valid in accordance with the Constitution (both federal and state), and are conducted on an approximately monthly to biweekly basis. That means that if you drive in the state of New Jersey, at some point in time, you’re likely to cross paths with one of these checkpoints.

When you do, one of two things can happen. You can either consent to a sobriety evaluation, which consists of a PBT (Portable Breath Test) and BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) test — or you can refuse. Legally speaking, police officers can not compel you to submit to testing. However, while you do not have to consent, you should think twice before you refuse — because the consequences can be steep.

Consequences of Refusing a DWI Checkpoint in New Jersey

Many people are unaware that from the moment they receive a New Jersey driver’s license, they are giving something back as well: it’s called implied consent, and it means that from then on, you consent to submit to breathalyzer tests. Breathalyzers are what law enforcement officers use to analyze the BAC of drivers, at DWI checkpoints and otherwise. Therefore, while refusing a BAC test is within your rights, it is also going back on the implied consent that you gave when you first obtained your license — and that has consequences.

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission describes the penalties for a breathalyzer refusal — which can be as severe as the penalties for an actual DUI offense. And they only get worse as the refusals pile up.

1st Offense

  • license revoked for seven months to one year
  • at least 12 hours at an IDRC (Intoxicated Driver Resource Center)
  • maximum fines totaling up to approximately $5,000

2nd Offense

  • license revoked for two years
  • at least 12 hours at an IDRC
  • maximum fines totaling up to approximately $6,500

3rd Offense

  • license revoked for 10 years
  • at least 12 hours at an IDRC
  • maximum fines totaling up to approximately $8,000

Contact Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

If you or someone you know is facing DWI or DWI-related charges in Southern New Jersey, you need an aggressive and experienced DWI attorney fighting in your corner. Call Lombardo law at (609) 445-4300 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation any day of the week, morning, afternoon, or evening.

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