Implied Consent in NJ DWI cases

The doctrine of implied consent means that every individual who drives a vehicle in New Jersey is consenting to a breathalyzer test if they are stopped by a law enforcement officer. The stop must be supported by probable cause and there must be reasonable suspicion that the driver is in fact intoxicated. This doctrine of implied consent was discussed in the New Jersey Supreme Court decision of State v. Wright, 107 N.J. 488 (1987). “The legislative history of the consent and refusal statutes clearly indicates that the Legislature enacted these statutes to facilitate drunk driving investigations. They were designed ‘to enable the enforcing authorities to reach out during the very short window in time during which the scientific evidence of intoxication is available, in order to examine a class whose proximity to the event indicates that the members of that class may have a contribution to make to the search for the truth.” Clearly the public policy indications behind the implied consent doctrine is to aid law enforcement in pursuing and apprehending drunk drivers.

This doctrine has also been discussed at the trial level in New Jersey. The statute in question provides that operators are deemed to have given their consent to the taking of samples of breath for the purpose of making chemical tests to determine the amount of alcohol in the blood. The clear wording of the statute indicates that operators are deemed to consent to give more that one breath sample to determine the amount of alcohol in the blood. Moreover, “a second breath sample is for the benefit of the accused because any disparate results will alert the operator of a potential mechanical malfunction of the machine.” Inaccurate and false readings are discovered and may be disregarded. Those who test under .08% will not be prejudiced by the administration of the second test, “as law enforcement officials will count only the lower of two breathalyzer results, obtained 15 minutes apart, as evidence against the suspect.State v. White, 253 N.J. Super 490 (1991)

Finally, in State v. Hudes, 128 N.J. Super 589 (1974), the trial court stated “The implied consent statute was conceived and enacted for laudable public purposes and to serve valid state interests, including the avoidance of the use of force in obtaining samples, to assist in obtaining the most reliable evidence of driving while intoxicated, and to reduce the number of death-dealing drunken drivers on the highways by administrative sanctions, including the suspension of drivers’ license privileges.”