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NJ Court Upholds Police Warnings before DWI Breath Tests

A New Jersey appeals court recently issued an important decision in a drunk driving case that could have significant implications for DWI arrests going forward.

A person charged with Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test had challenged the law revolving around police officers warning suspected drunk drivers of the potential legal implications if they failed to submit to a breath test. The driver, Iris Quintero, argued that the standard police warnings were impermissibly vague because they failed to specify the exact penalties a particular driver might be subject to in the event that they refused a breathalyzer test.

Quintero was arrested on suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) on Dec. 7, 2012 in Roselle Park, New Jersey. Prior to getting behind the wheel of her car, she reportedly consumed a number of alcohol beverages, including vodka and cranberry juice cocktails. Sometime after starting her vehicle and hitting the road, Quintero blew out a tire. A Roselle Park police officer eventually stopped Quintero’s vehicle and took her to the police station, where she refused to submit to a breath test.

Quintero was subsequently charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test and eventually had her driver’s license suspended for a period of seven months – the minimum mandatory license revocation period for a conviction on Refusal charges. Quintero appealed the conviction and challenged the Refusal charge because, she argued, she was never told that the minimum mandatory penalty would include a suspension of her license.

The three-judge panel on the NJ Appellate Division court ruled in the case, State v. Quintero, and ultimately decided that the police warnings were sufficient and permissible under the law. New Jersey Appellate Division Judge Richard Hoffman wrote the ruling on behalf of the court and stated that the panel determined that the standard warning used by NJ police officers “is not defective for failing to inform drivers of the mandatory minimum penalties for refusal.” Instead, wrote Hoffman, the police warning “provides sufficient information for drivers to make an objectively reasonable choice on whether to submit to a breath test.”

For more information about this important DWI case, read the New Jersey Law Journal article, “NJ Court Rejects Challenge to Breath-Test Refusal Warnings.”


If you or a loved one has been charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Driving Under the Influence (DUI), or Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test in New Jersey, you need to talk to a qualified criminal defense lawyer. The experienced South Jersey criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty will help you fight your DWI charges and avoid suspension of your driver’s license. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.

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