New Jersey Court Discusses Accuracy of Breath Tests in DWI Cases

Many New Jersey DWI charges arise out of breath tests that indicate a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit. Thus, if a defendant charged with DWI can prove that a breath test was inaccurate, he or she may be able to obtain a dismissal of his or her DWI charges. A defendant seeking to prove the results of a breath test are not reliable faces a high burden, however, as demonstrated in a recent New Jersey appellate court case. If you are charged with committing a DWI in New Jersey, it is prudent to speak to a knowledgeable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to argue to avoid a conviction.

Factual and Procedural History

Allegedly, police officers observed the defendant outside of his vacation home early in the morning. When they spoke with the defendant, they noticed he smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. The officers instructed the defendant not to drive but observed him driving with no headlights an hour later. He was arrested for suspicion of DWI and transported to the police station, where he underwent a breath test, which revealed his blood alcohol concentration to be .13%.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of DWI. As it was his third DWI offense, the defendant was sentenced to a prison term of 190 days, and his license was revoked for ten years. He then appealed, arguing that the breath test that he was administered was unreliable, and therefore his conviction should be vacated. The court rejected the defendant’s arguments and affirmed his sentence.

Demonstrating the Accuracy of a Breath Test

First, the defendant argued that the State should be required to record the administration of a breath test via video, and if it failed to do so, there should be an adverse inference that the State did not fully comply with the procedural requirements imposed by law. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, noting that the New Jersey courts never required the State to videotape breath tests. Further, the court explained that while the State bore the burden of proving that a breath test was appropriately administered and the equipment used to administer the test was in proper working condition, adding a requirement that the State videotape breath tests would not aid in the administration of the test. As the court found that the officers that conducted the breath test in the subject case complied with the procedural requirements for administrating the test, the test could be deemed accurate.

Additionally, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that he suffered from gastroesophageal reflux, which may have contaminated his breath sample. Specifically, the court found that the defendant’s expert’s opinion that the defendant’s reflux could cause his breath to be continuously contaminated with alcohol was not based on any scientific evidence.

Speak with a Dedicated New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

If you are accused of a New Jersey DWI offense, it is in your best interest to speak with a dedicated New Jersey DWI defense attorney regarding what measures you can take to protect your interests. The zealous defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can advise you of your options for seeking the best legal result available under the circumstances, and assist you in developing an appropriate strategy. We can be reached via our online form or at 877-450-8301 to schedule a meeting.

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