A New Jersey assemblyman was charged with DWI after he supposedly cut off a police officer while merging onto a road. The incident resulted in the officer pulling the man over, asserting that the man had been driving erratically.

When the man argued that he hadn’t cut the officer off, the officer reportedly suggested that the man had been drinking. The officer gave him a field sobriety test, which the man passed, and then reportedly told him that he needed to take a Breathalyzer test as well so as to determine whether he could be booked under DWI charges.

The accused man asserts that, at the time and under the circumstances, he felt cornered into this position and refused the test, feeling harassed. Since he had passed the field sobriety test, he refused the breath test.

After refusing to take the Breathalyzer test — an act which in and of itself is a violation of New Jersey law — he was taken into custody by the officer. When he arrived at the police station he was not immediately allowed to speak with his attorney. It was only until after they released him from custody that he was able to speak with his attorney. This event may factor into the outcome of the man’s trial.

It is important to note, as a driver what rights you have when pulled over. In order to protect your liberty, refusing a police officer’s request to take a breath test may not be the best decision. In fact, refusing a Breathalyzer test may result in the same consequences as a DWI.

The accused man now intends to face these charges in court and contest the police officer’s allegations. As a New Jersey assemblyman, not only does he have to face any possible legal consequences that may stem from these DWI charges should a conviction be obtained, but he also is undoubtedly worried about the ramifications of these charges on his occupation as well. As he faces the court, a meaningful defense directed toward the issues raised may help him convince a court that sufficient evidence does not exist to sustain the charges.

Source: Washington Township Times, “Assemblyman Paul Moriarty disputes DWI charge,” Michelle Caffrey, July 31, 2012