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New Jersey's drunk driving laws depend heavily on breath tests


Most New Jersey drivers are probably aware that the legal limit of blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent, but may not fully understand what that implies. Furthermore, they may not realize that even those with a blood alcohol content below 0.08 may face drunk driving charges.

A New Jersey man was arrested recently after police said they spotted him driving recklessly. An officer said he saw the man's Chevrolet driving in two lanes of traffic and decided to pull over the driver. During the traffic stop, the police officer said the man showed signs of impairment. The officer administered a field sobriety test and arrested the man. The man was later charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and other violations.

The police measure a driver's blood alcohol content through a blood or breath test. When drivers get a license in New Jersey, they consent in advance to a breath test. If they are later pulled over and refuse to have their breath tested, they can be fined as much as $500 and have their license suspended for up to a year. Repeat offenses of refusing these tests can lead to much higher penalties.

When a driver's blood alcohol test is found to be over 0.08, even a first time DWI can carry a three-month license suspension, up to 30 days in jail and heavy fines. The penalties get much worse for those with a blood alcohol content over 0.10 or with repeated offenses.

New Jersey also has a so-called zero tolerance policy for underage drunk driving. Under this policy, drivers under age 21 can face penalties if they are found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.01 or higher.

All New Jersey drivers who are accused of drunk driving are entitled to a defense. An attorney with experience in DUI/DWI defense will look for weaknesses in the prosecutors' case through looking at such questions as whether the arrest was lawful or whether the breath test was reliable.

Source: New Jersey Herald, "Andover man charged with DWI," Dec. 9, 2013

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