Now that the holidays have arrived, law enforcement officers are even more aware and focused on keeping everyone as safe as possible. That being the case, if you or a loved one happen to get stopped while you are out celebrating the season, it is important for you to understand your rights and legal options.
During a DUI traffic stop in New Jersey, it is standard procedure for the police to request a breath sample. Breathalyzer test results can serve as key evidence for the prosecution in a DUI case; and, under New Jersey’s implied consent law, drivers are legally required to submit to testing of their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
So, you submitted to the breathalyzer and the police said your BAC was 0.08 percent or above. Does this automatically mean that you will lose your case at trial?
In a word, “No.”
Defenses to a 0.08 (or Higher) BAC in a New Jersey DUI Case
While New Jersey law makes it illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08 or above, blowing a 0.08 during your traffic stop does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted at trial. You could have any of a variety of different defenses available, and raising any one or more of these defenses can be enough to prevent the prosecution from proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
1. Use of a Faulty Breathalyzer Device
Like other electronic testing devices, breathalyzers must be carefully maintained and calibrated in order to ensure their accuracy. If the particular device used to test your BAC was not functioning properly or had not recently been recalibrated at the time of your arrest, the results of your breath test may be too unreliable to serve as evidence against you.
2. No Reasonable Grounds to Request a Breath Test
Under New Jersey’s implied consent law, the police can only require you to submit to a breath test if they have “reasonable grounds to believe” that you have been driving under the influence. If the police lacked adequate justification for your traffic stop, this too can be used to keep your breath test results out of your DUI case.
3. Failure to Read Your Rights Under the Implied Consent Law
When the police conduct a breath test, they are required to inform you of two important rights: (i) your right to receive a copy of your test results, and (ii) your right to have your BAC re-tested by a medical professional of your choosing. Failure to read these rights is another police mistake that can potentially provide a defense to a high BAC.
4. Being Subjected to an Illegal Traffic Stop
Under the U.S. Constitution, there are clear and fundamental limits on law enforcement officers’ ability to conduct traffic stops. If any aspect of your traffic stop involved a violation of your Constitutional rights, any evidence obtained as a result of your traffic stop (including your breath test results) may be inadmissible in court.
Schedule a Free Consultation about Your DUI Case
If you are facing a DUI charge in New Jersey, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. To speak with one of our experienced DUI attorneys about the defenses you may have available, please call 1-877-HELMER1 or request an appointment online now.