New Jersey Court Discusses Reliability of Breath Tests in DWI Cases

In many cases in which a defendant is charged with DWI, the bulk of the State’s evidence of the defendant’s guilt will consist of the results of breath tests taken shortly after the defendant was stopped by the police. Thus, if a defendant can prove that the test results are inaccurate or unreliable, they may be precluded from evidence, and the defendant may be found not guilty. In a recent New Jersey DWI case in which the defendant appealed his conviction on the belief that his breath tests may have been improperly administered, the court explained the standards for maintaining and evaluating the accuracy of breath tests. If you are a resident of New Jersey currently accused of driving while intoxicated in violation of the law, it is advisable to consult a proficient New Jersey DWI defense attorney to evaluate your case.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the defendant was involved in a multiple-vehicle accident that caused personal injuries. The police investigating the accident spoke with the defendant and noticed the smell of alcohol on his breath and administered a series of breath tests. After the tests indicated a blood alcohol content level in excess of the legal limit, the defendant was charged with DWI.

Allegedly, the defendant entered a conditional guilty plea at trial. Stipulations were entered into stating that the breath test machine was in working order, the first sample was taken at 6:44, and the second was taken at 6:46, and the test results reported a reading of .21. The defendant preserved his right to argue that the results of his breath samples were invalid, and, following his conviction, he appealed.

Determining the Sufficiency of Breath Tests

On appeal, the court noted that under New Jersey law, at least two breath samples must be obtained for the results of a breath test to be valid. Further, it is possible for the second sample to be contaminated if the samples are obtained too close together in time. Thus, to prevent contamination from one sample to the next, the software locks the machine for two minutes, during which it will not allow the user to conduct another test. After the two minute period ends, the machine prompts the user to collect the second sample.

In the subject case, the defendant argued that the stipulated facts created a reasonable doubt as to whether the breath samples were taken too closely together to be accurate, as they only accounted for the minutes and not the seconds of each sample. The court rejected this argument, noting that the machine would not permit a second test to be conducted until two minutes had passed. Thus, the court affirmed the  defendant’s conviction.

Meet with a Capable New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

If you are charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey, it is in your best interest to retain an attorney to help you set forth a compelling defense. The capable New Jersey DWI defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are adept at helping criminal defendants fight for just outcomes, and we will work tirelessly to help you fight to protect your rights. You can contact us at 877-450-8301 or through the form online to set up a meeting.

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