DWI Standard Statement is to Inform the Defendant
In a unanimous opinion, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Division in State v. O'Driscoll, In this case the arresting officer read an outdated Standard Statement to the defendant. The police are required to read a defendant a Standard Statement before they can charge a defendant with a refusal. The Standard Statement is in essence a warning to a defendant that recites the penalties for refusing to submit a breath sample. The version that was read to the defendant dis not have the current and correct DWI penalties for a refusal. The court held that the police officer's errors in reading the wrong version of the Standard Statement informing defendant of the incorrect penalties for refusing to provide breath samples was not material and did not require reversal of the refusal conviction. The court said, “We find that the officer's mistakes were inconsequential. The officer read the standard statement and informed defendant both that the breath test was mandatory and that serious consequences — revocation of his license for a period from six months up to twenty years — would result if he did not submit to the test” The Court noted that it expects that police officers will read the correct Standard Statement and should not deviate from it. In a case where the wrong statement is read or deviates in some way the trial court must determine whether the deviation is material in light of the statutory purpose to inform motorists of the consequences of refusal and compel compliance. Ultimately, the trial court must make its decision on, “… whether the State has informed the defendant of material facts –- should apply when a police officer reads the wrong version of the standard statement or misreads the current form. Under that approach, discrepancies that would not have influenced a reasonable driver's choice to submit to a breath test would not be considered material and would not require reversal of a conviction for refusal. On the other hand, substantive errors that do not adequately inform motorists of the consequences of refusal and would affect a reasonable person's decision-making would be problematic. To decide whether a deviation from the standard statement is material under that standard requires a case-by-case evaluation of the facts.” If you or a loved one needs strong representation to defend against a DWI or Refusal in New Jersey, contact the municipal court defense lawyers at DeMichele & DeMichele today. We are experienced DWI attorneys who are ready to defend the charges against you. Contact us now for your confidential and free initial consultation. You can also reach us by telephone (856) 546-1350. Don't just plead guilty and risk your driving privilege or driving record.