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New Jersey Implied Consent Law

A new law would expand implied consent to cover blood draws and requests for urine. Currently, New Jersey’s implied consent law requires that all who drive on New Jersey roads and highways submit to the taking of breath samples. The current law does not require that those same drivers provide voluntary blood or urine samples. Until April, it was believed that the exigency created by the quick dissipation of alcohol in the blood would allow a police officer to obtain a blood sample without a warrant. However, the United State Supreme Court decision in Missouri v. McNeely changed that. In McNeely, the SCOTUS held that there was, and never has been, per se exigency, and that absent some real exigency or another exception of the warrant requirement, results taken without a warrant would be inadmissible.

The ramification of McNeely has been resounding. In States like New Jersey, where blood was not included in the implied consent, getting blood from arrestees has been difficult. Under existing NJ case law, one cannot consent, nor withhold consent, to a blood test, which has, for now, eliminated one of the most powerful exceptions to the warrant requirement. Without consent or exigency, Police Officer’s must obtain a warrant from a judge. However, Municipal Court Judges, those who hear drunk driving cases, have no authority to issue telephonic warrants, leaving such duties to Superior Court Judges…for whom police officers may be reluctant to wake up for an early morning warrant request.

The new implied consent law would read, in part, as follows:

“Any person who operates a motor vehicle on any public road, street or highway or quasi-public area in this State shall be deemed to have given his consent to the taking of samples of his breath, urine, or blood for the purpose of making chemical tests to determine the content of alcohol in his blood…No chemical test of a person’s breath, urine, or blood, as provided in this section, or specimen necessary thereto, may be made or taken forcibly and against physical resistance thereto by the defendant.”

The ramifications are loud and clear. Police would not need to obtain a warrant to. Rather, a person who fails to give consent to a blood draw or urine sample would be charged with refusal and would face mandatory license suspensions, an ignition interlock device, and fines.