TRENTON - The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled yesterday that police do not have to read a final warning to people suspected of drunken driving who refuse to take a Breathalyzer test.
The unanimous ruling overturns the portion of an appellate court decision that said police must read aloud the final paragraph of the Motor Vehicle Commission Standard Statement for vehicle operators to anyone who refuses the breath test. The Supreme Court said the appeals panel "exceeded its mandate" in its order.
People detained for suspected drunken driving who do not take the test are charged with DUI and refusal to take the Breathalyzer. The penalty for first-time DUI conviction is loss of license for seven to 12 months and a fine of $500 or more.
The final warning reiterates some of the previous warnings, including that the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney do not apply to taking breath samples and do not give the person the right to refuse the test. It warns that the suspect will be charged with refusal to submit to the test, and asks one last time for a breath sample.
The high court ruled that the final warning was required only if the suspect conditionally consents or ambiguously declines to provide a breath sample after all other required warnings have been given. The reading of the final warning is not required when the suspect refuses to give a breath sample immediately upon request, the court held.