Under New Jersey state law, it is not permissible to refuse to submit to a breath test when requested by a police officer during a DWI stop. What is known as the refusal statute in New Jersey governs this rule and a violation of it carries with it significant penalties such as driver’s license suspension for seven months to ten years. In addition, there are fines ranging from $300 to $1,000 and other potential punishments if convicted.
The penalties for a DWI refusal become more severe if the infraction is committed while driving within a school zone. This charge opens up a whole new set of legal issues that must be navigated by the defendant.
What is Included in School Zone?
Under New Jersey law, a school zone is defined as any school property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board. If a NJ driver is stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and refuses to conduct a breath test while within a school zone, or even within 1,000 feet of such a zone, it is a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50a(b), the New Jersey refusal law. The refusal penalties are also heightened if the driver violates the refusal statute while driving through a school crossing. This law applies whether or not the person accused of refusal was aware that it was a school zone.
Penalties for DWI Test Refusal in a School Zone
While the penalties for DWI refusal can be substantial, one will face more severe punishment if the same violation occurs within a school zone as defined above. For a first offense of refusal within a school zone, the penalties are a fine between $600 and $1,000 and a suspension of the individual’s driver’s license for between one and two years. The person will also be required to attend the Intoxicated Driver’s Resource Center (IDRC), have an ignition interlock device placed on his or her car.
For the second refusal within a school zone offense, the fine rises to between $1,000 and $2,000. The defendant’s driver’s license will be suspended for four years and the individual will have to attend an IDRC class. An ignition interlock device will also be placed on his or her vehicle, which also comes along with additional fees.
For the third offense of refusing to submit to a breath test within a school zone, the driver will face a fine of $2,000. His or her driver’s license will be suspended for twenty years and attendance at IDRC is again required. Upon return of the driver’s license, an ignition interlock device will be placed in the person’s motor vehicle for at least one year.
Contact a DWI Refusal Attorney for Legal Advice
Being charged with refusing to take a breath test can have long-term consequences on a person’s life. If you have been recently charged with refusal within a school zone in Monmouth County or Ocean County, New Jersey, it is important to have the proper legal advice from a lawyer. The attorneys of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach are well versed in NJ DWI and refusal law and can answer all of your questions about your charge.
Don’t make the mistake of not knowing your legal rights when it comes to this traffic offense. Villani & DeLuca’s experienced attorneys might be able to assist you in reducing or dismissing your refusal charges. Call today for your free initial consultation!