NJ Supreme Court holds new Alcotest DWI breath testing machine results admissible

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NJ Supreme Court holds new Alcotest DWI breath testing machine results admissible

The Supreme Court on March 17, 2008 adopted, as modified, the reports and recommendations of Special Master Judge King. This landmark decision changes the prosecution of DWI cases in New Jersey forever. Subject to certain conditions, the Court holds that the Alcotest is scientifically reliable and that its results are admissible in drunk driving prosecutions. State v. Chun 194 NJ 54 3-17-08 (A-96-06)

The Supreme Court held:

1. There is sufficient credible evidence to support the continued use of a 2100 to 1 blood/breath alcohol ratio to estimate BAC from a breath sample. The overwhelming evidence demonstrates that use of this ratio tends to underestimate the actual BAC in the vast majority of persons whose breath is tested. Although there may be a small number of individuals who are disadvantaged by a device that uses the 2100 to 1 blood/breath ratio, there is sound scientific support for its continued utilization.

2. The four criteria used by the device to identify a valid breath sample are, with one modification, appropriate. The Court adopts the recommendation that the minimum breath volume requirement should be

lowered, for women over sixty years of age only, from 1.5 liters to 1.2 liters and concludes that this modification does not violate equal protection rights. Regardless of minimum breath requirements, no test will be accepted by the machine until the infrared measurement plateaus, which only occurs when a suspect is expelling deep lung air.

Further, while selectively lowering the breath volume requirement will create a different level at which women over sixty may be charged with refusal, the record demonstrates that this group, and only this group, may not have the physiological capability of providing a larger sample. In pending prosecutions, and in future prosecutions based on

tests conducted prior to the implementation of the Court?s directives,

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Kenneth Vercammen, Esq., Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, PC | Attorney Advertising

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