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Arrested for DUI in New Jersey: Can You Challenge Your Breath Test Results in Court?

December 24, 2018 | Posted In Drunk Driving

As you may have heard, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently issued a significant ruling which has the potential to result in as many as 20,000 DUI convictions being overturned. The ruling relates to the New Jersey State Police’s use of improperly-calibrated Alcotest devices in multiple counties from 2008 through 2016. As a result of the improper calibration, all breath test results obtained using the devices were determined to be unreliable, and as a result they were deemed inadmissible in court.

If you have either an open case or a prior DUI conviction, you may have an opportunity now to successfully defend it or to reverse your prior conviction.

If you have been arrested more recently, you may be able to challenge your breath test results as well. Depending upon the circumstances involved in your case, some potential options for challenging breath test results in New Jersey include:

1. Improper Calibration

It has happened before, and it will happen again. In order to provide a reliable reading of a suspect’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), an Alcotest device must be properly calibrated. If you provided a breath sample using an Alcotest device that was not properly calibrated, your BAC reading may be inadmissible in your DUI case.

2. Inadequate Documentation

In order to prove that an Alcotest device was properly calibrated, the police must be able to offer up comprehensive documentation of the device’s calibration history. Even if the Alcotest device used in your case was properly calibrated, if the police cannot show that it was properly calibrated, you may be able to use this as a defense in court.

3. Faulty Breath Test Administration

In addition to adhering to strict calibration requirements, the police must administer breath tests according to rigid protocols as well. If your breath test was not administered appropriately, this could also render your BAC reading unreliable (and therefore inadmissible in court). Some of the more-common breath test administration errors include:

  • Administering a breath test fewer than 20 minutes after a traffic stop;
  • Failure to supervise the suspect during the entire 20-minute waiting period;
  • Failure to replace the mouthpiece on the Alcotest prior to taking a second sample; and,
  • Failure to provide proper instructions with regard to providing a breath sample.

4. Lack of “Reasonable Grounds”

Under New Jersey’s implied consent law, a person is only required to submit to a breath test if the arresting officer, “has reasonable grounds to believe that such person has been operating a motor vehicle [while intoxicated].” The constitutional protections against unlawful searches and seizures apply during DUI traffic stops as well; and, if the police stopped you without proper justification, your breath test results (and any other evidence obtained as a result of your traffic stop) may be inadmissible in court.

5. A “False Positive”

There are various factors that can lead to a “false positive” reading during a breath test. From eating certain foods and taking certain medications to holding your breath prior to blowing, our attorneys can examine all potential options for arguing that your BAC is not evidence of alcohol intoxication.

Schedule a Confidential Initial Consultation

For more information about potential defenses to DUI charges in New Jersey, please contact us to schedule an initial consultation. To speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney in confidence, call 877-435-6371 or tell us how to reach you online today.

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Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

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