DWI / DUI Frequently Asked Questions
- If a police officer asks me if I’ve been drinking, what do I say?
- Do I have to take a field sobriety test?
- Can my DWI case be dismissed because the police never read me my Miranda rights?
- Do I have to take a breathalyzer test?
- Will I go to jail if I’m convicted of a DWI/DUI?
- What is the “Ten Year Rule”?
- I’m from out-of-state; can New Jersey convict me of a DWI?
- Is an underage DWI treated the same as an adult?
Rather than making incriminating statements, the best response is: “I would like to speak with an attorney before answering any questions.” Please read more about your rights when you are pulled over.
No. You do not have to take a field sobriety test if asked by a NJ police officer. These tests are often not accurate and do not take into account any medications you may be taking, poor balance, or your stamina at the time of test. You many politely refuse to participate in a field sobriety test, but be aware that they may arrest you and take you to the police station where they will ask you to take a chemical test—breath, blood, or urine. You are required by law to take a breath test. Refusal to take breath test will result in a charge or ‘Refusal’ which will result in a loss of license and fines.
No. Although the police officer arresting you should tell you your Miranda rights, often they do not. Any answers to questions asked during or after the arrest may not be used by the prosecution if you were not read your rights.
By driving on the roads in the state of New Jersey, you are consenting to give a breath sample to do chemical testing for the purposes of determining the presence of alcohol in your body. If the police officer has reasonable grounds to believe you were driving while intoxicated and you refuse to provide valid breath samples your license will be suspended for a minimum of 7 months —even if you are not intoxicated.
Will I go to jail if I’m convicted of a DWI/DUI?
First time offenders usually do not go to jail, but if it is your second, third or a subsequent offense, your chances of receiving time in jail greatly increases. Please refer to the DWI/DUI Penalties page.
The “Ten Year Rule” means that under some circumstances a 10 year old DWI conviction will not count as a prior conviction for a DWI/DUI sentencing. For example if you had a first violation on Jan. 1, 1997 and you were arrested again on Jan. 1, 2009, you would be treated as a first offender. The actual application of this rule can be very complicated, especially when dealing with multiple offenders, and really requires competent legal advise.
The simple answer is ‘Yes.” New Jersey’s courts can convict you and impose jail time and fines. However, New Jersey Courts can only suspend your your driving privileges in the State of New Jersey and cannot suspend or revoke your your actual license if it was issued in another state. Please see our DWI/DUI for out-of-state drivers page.
Underage convictions with a BAC of 0.01-0.08% are less severe than adults’ penalties. A person under the legal drinking age with a BAC of greater than 0.08% is subject to the same penalties as adult DWI offenders. For more on underage DWI, click here.