New Jersey prosecutors can be quite aggressive in their quests to obtain convictions. Especially in situations that involve drunk driving charges, defendants may face serious challenges in court when trying to preserve their freedom. Several criminal defense options may be available, however; in fact, successful outcomes often hinge on how well those accused understand their rights.
One of the first things a police officer might do at the scene of a traffic stop (if he or she suspects that a driver is intoxicated) is ask the person being detained to take a preliminary alcohol screening test. Many people, especially those unfamiliar with state laws regarding such matters, mistakenly believe that the devices used to administer such tests are the same as Breathalyzers. In fact, the mobile device used in a preliminary alcohol screening can only detect the presence of alcohol on someone's breath.
A Breathalyzer test, on the other hand, is calibrated to be able to measure the amount of alcohol in a person's bloodstream. This is quite different from merely detecting the presence of alcohol in a breath sample. Because a preliminary screening does not reliably show the driver's blood alcohol content, the law does not require a motorist to consent to take such tests.
There is no legal repercussion or administrative penalty attached to refusing to take a preliminary alcohol screening test. Nevertheless, a driver's refusal to do so does not prevent a police officer from making a DUI arrest. Every New Jersey resident facing drunk driving charges is guaranteed the right to explore any and all criminal defense options available.
Source: FindLaw, “Can I Refuse to Take Field Sobriety Tests?“, Accessed on May 22, 2018