N.J. moves to equate breath-test refusal with DWI

    New Jersey lawmakers are considering changing drunken driving laws in response to a state Supreme Court decision.

    The court ruled earlier this year that refusing to take a Breathalyzer test is not considered the same as a conviction for driving while intoxicated when it comes to determining if someone is a repeat offender for drunken driving.

    Sen. Jeff Van Drew, the main sponsor of the measure, said he wants to clarify that a breath test refusal should be treated as a drunken-driving conviction for sentencing purposes.

    “The purpose of this bill is to make sure people don’t skirt the law. Bottom line: You don’t take the Breathalyzer, you’re not willing to do it, you’re still going to feel the full impact of the law and the penalties pertaining to it,” said Van Drew.

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    The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which supports the legislation, also wants anyone who refuses a Breathalyzer to be required to have an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

    The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee has approved the bill. It now awaits action in the Assembly.

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