NJ Supreme Court Refines Refusal Protocol

The New Jersey Supreme Court just released its decision in State v. Spell.  The case involved application of the Refusal Instruction to be provided to individuals suspected of dwi in NJ.  The most important part of the decision was the Court’s holding that:

The additional paragraph of the standard statement to which the Appellate Division referred is, according to itsinstructions, to be read aloud by police officers only if, after all other required warnings have been provided, a person detained for driving while intoxicated either conditionally consents or ambiguously declines to provide a breath sample.

The crux of the decision is that the second paragraph of the form need not be read if the person accused of dwi unequivocally REFUSES.  The decision is problematic in my view inasmuch as video and/or audio recordings of the instruction are typically unavailable.  We will have to see how things play out in actual application.


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