New Jersey Assembly Introduces a Bill Which Expands Implied Consent Statute to Include Blood And Urine Testing

A4284 – S2939 Expands Implied Consent Statute to Include Blood And Urine Testing.

            On June 24, 2013 the New Jersey Assembly introduced a bill to expand the implied consent of motor vehicle operators to include blood and urine testing. The bill would amend P.L.1966, c.142 which currently on includes breath. The bill is aimed at giving police more tools when a driver is suspected of driving while intoxicated. The driver would be given a copy of all the information resulting from the breath, blood and/ or urine test. Currently suspected drunk drivers in New Jersey are deemed to have given consent to a breathalyzer test to determine their BAC. Any driver that refuses the breathalyzer is subject to 7-12 months license suspension and a fine of $300-$500 for the first offense; two year suspension and $500-$1000 fine for the second offense; and 10 year suspension and $10,000 fine for the third offense.

A4284 is in response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. ___ (2013), holding police cannot always take warrantless blood tests from suspected drunk drivers under exigent circumstance exception of alcohol dissipating. Suspected drunk drivers could still refuse to give samples and face the consequences in the existing statute outlined above. Police could not forcibly take a sample from a person resisting and pursuant to Section 2(c) of P.L. 1966, c. 142, the suspected drunk driver still has the right to select the person or physician taking the sample.

This amendment if enacted substantial changes the information police would have access to beyond the BAC of the suspected drunk driver. Blood and urine tests would show other influences on the driver, such as, pregnancy, private medical conditions, drugs, both prescription or illegal. Would the blood sample test only be for alcohol? The amendment to the breathalyzer only addresses alcohol, not other substances. And the legislative history states “drunk drivers,” suggesting that if blood and urine samples were used to test for other substances that would be beyond the consented scope of the statute.  The take away, is that if A4284 is enacted, it may infringe on constitutionally protected privacy rights not addressed by the New Jersey Legislator and be constitutionally invalid.

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