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Court says woman's evasion equals BAC refusal

A woman's conviction for refusal to submit to an alcohol breath test at a traffic stop in 2012 was upheld by a New Jersey State appeals court. However, the woman contended that she did not refuse the blood alcohol content test but asked if she had a choice in the matter. The original sentence for her conviction included two days in custody at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, a 24-month suspension of her driver's license and directives to install an ignition interlock device on her vehicle.

The appellate court determined that the woman was involved in an ongoing discussion with authorities about taking the breath test. She did not agree to the test or refuse it but delayed answering and gave ambiguous responses, which the courts said amounted to a denial. The court previously ruled that evading the issue was the same as refusing to take a breath test. Although she told authorities, 'I am not refusing," she did not clearly say yes and agree to the test.

An assistant prosecutor opposed the DWI appeal and said that a breath test was not a request that could be discussed, evaded or negotiated. Instead, they felt that the respondent needed to provide an affirmative response or a denial to the request and cited a prior court ruling in the matter so that an impaired driver would not injure others when they were behind the wheel. The defense's arguments in the case were not specified.

The court might sometimes dismiss a DWI case if the prosecution does not provide enough proof. A criminal defense lawyer might be able to show that the prosecution has not met the burden of proof in a case.

Source: NJ.com, "Clayton woman's conviction for refusing breath test upheld", Matt Gray, July 11, 2014

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