On Memorial Day, Monday May 25, Aberdeen Township authorities arrested James Norris, 46, of East Brunswick on multiple charges. Norris is being charged with driving while intoxicated, as well as refusing a breathalyzer test, reckless driving, driving on a suspended license, and failing to provide his vehicle registration and proof of insurance. It is unclear from reports whether the allegations of driving while intoxicated are based solely on Norris’ refusal to take a breathalyzer test, or whether the arresting officer will also argue that field sobriety tests support finding that Norris was intoxicated at the time of the traffic stop.
East Brunswick NJ DWI Refusal Law
In New Jersey, under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4(a), refusal to take a breathalyzer test carries the same penalties that would apply if the alleged offender were to be found guilty of actually driving under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, even if Norris’ only offense was that he refused to comply with an officer’s request that he blow into a breathalyzer, he could still be facing severe penalties on that basis alone, even if there is no other evidence that he was actually intoxicated while operating his vehicle.
DWI Penalties in NJ
Under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4(a), Norris could potentially face penalties just like those dictated by under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 for drivers found to actually be intoxicated while operating their motor vehicle. These penalties include a minimum of a 3 month driver’s license suspension, over $700 in fines and fees, a $1,000 insurance surcharge each year for three years, and up to 30 days in jail. The law dictates even steeper penalties if Norris’ record already contains any prior DWI convictions in the last 10 years. In that case, penalties could then escalate so far as a driver’s license suspension of 10 years, a requirement to install an ignition interlock device during license suspension and for 1 to 3 years after Norris’ driver’s license is restored, over $1,500 in fines and fees, a $1,500 insurance surcharge each year for three years, and 180 days (about 6 months) of jail time.
Additional penalties could apply under N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, which allows for penalties including fines of up to $1,000 and 10 days’ jail time for driving with a suspended license, and increases these penalties if Norris’ previous suspension resulted from a DWI conviction, in which case an additional $500 fine, an additional license suspension of 1-2 years, and jail time of up to 90 days could be imposed. Further penalties could also be applied for reckless driving under N.J.S.A. 39:4-96, and for failure to provide a valid registration and proof of insurance under N.J.S.A. 39:3-29.