Newark, NJ- When you have been charged with a DWI in New Jersey, the strongest evidence the prosecution has against you is the result from a blood alcohol test, commonly referred to as breathalyzer. Even though law enforcement officers and prosecutors rely heavily on the results of these tests, the equipment and software can be flawed, and thereby give an offender sound basis to challenge the results and possibly avoid a DWI conviction.
A breathalyzer is a machine that records the concentration of alcohol on a person’s breath when the inhale into the machine. The results are then recorded and stored by the equipment’s software which can later be accessed by law enforcement, prosecutors and defense attorneys.
The specific breathalyzer used by the state of New Jersey for the past decade is the Alcotest. In spite of long-standing issues with the accompanying software and years of court challenges, the test is still being used to convict thousands of people for driving while intoxicated.
Attorneys representing DWI defendants challenged the reliability of the Alcotest in 2008, stating there were at least 9 software flaws which prevented accurate storage of test information. The test was also troublesome for women over 60 who often cannot produce the 1.5 litters of air to get an accurate reading.
The challenge was successful and the state’s high court ordered New Jersey officials to correct the flaws, but five years later none of those flaws have been corrected. The Alcotest was challenged again, but the New Jersey Supreme Court decided in September of this year to stand by the breath test.
In a 6-0 order, Justices decided the state could to continue using the Alcotest even though the software flaws had not been corrected, stating the changes were not necessary and the test remains “scientifically reliable.” Justice Helen Hoens wrote in the court’s decision that the state attempted to make the necessary changes to the Alcotest, but due to “unanticipated but unavoidable” technical difficulties the state’s ability to comply with their earlier ruling had been hindered.
New Jersey Defense attorneys argue the software problems make it difficult to access the information in the Alcotest database. Having access to the test’s databases is critical in gathering the evidence necessary for a strong DWI defense.
There are other factors that can call into question the reliability of a breathalyzer. Medical problems such as diabetes can give inaccurate readings. Other factors like exposure to certain chemicals, the skills of the tester and even atmospheric changes can give false results. I know the many ways in which a breathalyzer can be challenged and understand what challenges are appropriate in your case.
Because a DWI in New Jersey has consequences, including suspension of our license, a possible jail sentence and thousands of dollars in associated fines and costs, it is important to contact me at my Newark office.
When your freedom hangs in the balance, it is important to have a person who will staunchly protect your rights. Your rights are of greatest importance to me and I will carefully analyze the evidence collected against you to decide which defense will give you a better chance of preventing a conviction. After a consultation, I can determine which grounds you have to challenge your DWI charge and begin working on your case.