New Jersey Court Discusses Reliability of Blood Tests in DWI Cases

Under New Jersey law, it is illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. Typically, a DWI defendant’s blood alcohol level is established via a breath or blood test. In many cases, the defendant may be able to avoid a conviction by discrediting the results of any test that was administered. Recently, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, discussed what evidence is needed to prove that the results of a chemical test are deemed unreliable, in a case in which the defendant appealed his DWI conviction. If you live in New Jersey and are faced with DWI charges, it is wise to speak with a seasoned New Jersey DWI defense attorney about your case.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was stopped by a police officer for following too closely behind the officer, using high beams, and a lack of front headlights. During the stop, the officer noted that the defendant’s breath had an odor of alcohol. The defendant admitted to drinking, and the officer administered a field sobriety test, after which he arrested the defendant. The defendant was ultimately transported to a hospital, where he underwent blood tests, which revealed his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be .163%. He was charged with multiple violations, including driving while intoxicated and driving with a BAC over 0.08%.

Reportedly, during the trial, the defendant’s expert testified that the nurse who drew blood from the defendant did not follow the recommended protocol for dissolving the additives in the vials blood is drawn into, which he stated could potentially cause a false elevation of the defendant’s blood-alcohol level.

Allegedly, the municipal court judge found that there was sufficient evidence to convict the defendant of DWI, but not to convict the defendant of driving with a BAC over 0.08%. Specifically, the court found the results of the blood test to be unreliable. The defendant appealed his DWI conviction to the Law Division, arguing, in part, that the results of the blood test were invalid. The Law Division judge affirmed the conviction, based on the grounds that the defendant’s BAC was over 0.08% at the time of his arrest. The defendant then appealed to the Superior Court.

Sufficiency of Results of Chemical Testing in DWI Cases

First, the defendant argued that he could not be convicted based on the results of his blood test because the municipal court found the results to be unreliable. The court rejected this argument, finding that the Law Division Judge properly reviewed the evidence of record and found the results of the blood test to be reliable and valid.

The defendant also argued that the results of the blood test were invalid based on his expert testimony that the nurse that administered the test did not follow the recommended protocol. The court was not persuaded by this argument either, finding that the defendant’s expert did not produce any evidence regarding the basis of the protocol. Thus, the court found that there was no indication as to whether the protocol was recognized or accepted in the medical community, and therefore, the defendant’s expert’s opinion lacked support. Accordingly, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

Consult an Experienced New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

If you are charged with DWI in New Jersey, it is prudent to speak with an experienced attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to argue to protect your liberties. The diligent attorneys of The Law Offices of Johnathan F. Marshall are adept at defending people charged with DWI in the New Jersey courts and will zealously pursue a successful outcome on your behalf. You can reach us at 877-450-8301 or via our online form to set up a confidential and free meeting regarding your case.

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