DWI in New Jersey – The Alcotest & State v. Chun
In 2008, the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued its opinion in State v. Chun 194 N.J. 54 (2008) finding that the Draeger Alcotest 7110 MKIII-C (“Alcotest”) breath-testing device using software version 3.11 was reliable for admission in all New Jersey courts. The Court, however, did not give the State free reign in prosecuting DWI cases with the Alcotest. Rather, the Court found that the Alcotest’s results should only be deemed reliable if a number of very specific conditions were met.
One of these specific conditions is known as the “20-Minute Observation Period.” The Court specifically found that the officer operating the Alcotest is required to observe the alleged violator for twenty-minutes before administering the test to ensure that the alleged violator does not jeopardize the test in any way. Analyzing the “20-Minute Observation Period” is a critical part of defending any DWI case for any New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney. There are a number of technical ways the police officer administering the Alcotest can violate the “20-Minute Observation Period.” A trained and experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney should always analyze whether the police violated the requirements associated with the “20-Minute Observation Period.”
The Court also imposed requirements regarding preparing the testing area and instructing the alleged violator. First, the police officer administering the Alcotest is required to attach a new mouthpiece to the machine and remove all cell phones and electrical devices from the testing area. Next, the police officer is required to instruct the alleged violator as follows: “I want you to take a deep breath and blow into the mouthpiece with one long continuous breath. Continue to blow until I tell you to stop. Do you understand these instructions?” Analyzing the instructions that the police gave before administering the Alcotest is a critical element for any Criminal Defense Attorney in New Jersey who is defending a DWI case.
In addition to these requirements, the Court touched on a number of other technical requirements. These include opinions about the Alcohol Influence Report, Error Messages, Breath Volume, Breath Temperature, Tolerance and Machine Calibration, and Repair Records. Given the extreme consequences that come with a DWI conviction and the complexity and technical nature of the Alcotest it is critical that a trained and experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney analyze all the results and evidence in every DWI case.
The information contained herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The information contained herein is solely for informational purposes.