There are a few common myths about DWI charges in New Jersey. Listed below, each myth is examined and discussed in detail with important facts.
DWI Myth 1: Breathalyzer Devices Are Always Accurate And Reliable In A Court Of Law
When operated properly breathalyzers can accurately detect blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels in an individual's body, but the courts have recognized that these breath test devices have the possibility of errors when not operated properly. If the police officer who is to administer the test does not prepare the test in accordance with state guidelines or misses a crucial step in administering the test, then the results may be considered faulty and be inadmissible against the defendant.
DWI Myth 2: Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) Results Are Proof Of Intoxication
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are commonly performed by drivers who are suspected of drunk driving at the instruction of the arresting officer at the scene of a traffic stop. An officer's decision that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs based on his or her performance of a standardized field sobriety test may lead to an arrest. However, it is not scientific proof on its own that an individual is intoxicated. The drivers performance on a sobriety test and their conduct observed by the officer will establishing probable cause to take the individual into police custody on suspicion of DWI. Once at the police station further testing will be performed which will reinforce the arresting officers suspicion of DWI and allow for an arrest.
DWI Myth 3: If My BAC Level Is Below 0.08%, I Can't Be Found Guilty Of DWI
If you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) lower than the legal limit of 0.08% and are caught driving on the roads of New Jersey you can still be charged and convicted of a DWI. If the prosecution can show, through evidence such as police observation, that having any alcohol or drugs in your system affected your driving ability this is sufficient for a DWI charge.
DWI Myth 4: If I Refuse A Breath Test, I Cannot Be Charged With DWI
If you refuse to submit breath samples upon being placed in custody for driving while intoxicated in New Jersey, you will actually face a charge under New Jersey's refusal statute (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a) in addition to a DWI charge under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. Under New Jersey law, all licensed drivers are required to submit to a breath test if requested by law enforcement. The failure to do so will result in penalties similar to those for a DWI conviction some of which are even more serious. Additionally, a driver can be charged with DWI even without test results showing their BAC level based on their driving conduct and physical behavior alone.