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Breath test refusal statement inaccurate, New Jersey group says

When New Jersey law enforcement officers stop a driver they suspect may be driving under the influence of alcohol, they ask that person to take a breath test. If the person refuses, the officer then reads them a statement that warns them of the legal consequences in connection to the refusal itself. Refusing to take a sobriety test of this kind does not ensure that the driver will not be arrested and charged with a DWI.

A case has come before the New Jersey Supreme Court involving the breath test refusal statement and seems to have become a bit more complicated. The New Jersey Bar Association has submitted a brief in connection to that case, pointing out that the current statement is not entirely accurate.

While the actual case centers on a question of procedure, the claim is that the wrong version of the statement was used. The state bar appears to be taking the opportunity to encourage the high court to change the current statement. That brief informs the court that there are mandatory minimum sentences that people face if they refuse to take the breath test. However, the current version implies that the court has the option of handing out those sentences.

If the Supreme Court should rule in favor of rewriting the breath test refusal statement, it may open the door for people facing a breath refusal charge to have it tossed out. It will also help people understand the full consequences for refusing a breathalyzer test. People facing DWI and breath test refusal charges may want to talk to an attorney about their options.

Source: South Jersey Times, "NJ Bar Association wants drivers' breath test refusal statement changed," Michelle Caffrey, Jan. 10, 2013

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