While breathalyzer tests are common practice throughout New Jersey, these tests also must be used properly in order to be effective. Police must be trained in how to administer and interpret the tests correctly, in order to protect the driver's rights. A recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling has found that one officer in particular was not calibrating the breathalyzer tests properly, which resulted in more than 20,000 breathalyzer tests being eliminated as evidence.
What you need to know about the New Jersey Supreme Court decision
According to Jurist.org, about 20,667 breathalyzer tests were deemed inadmissible as evidence by the New Jersey Supreme Court. In November 2018, the court ruled that these breathalyzer tests were no longer admissible in court because the officer who administered the tests had purposefully calibrated the tests incorrectly.
The officer was indicted in 2016 for failing to calibrate the breathalyzer tests correctly. These tests had been used to arrest and convict more than 20,000 drivers on the charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
The court's ruling has a massive trickle-down effect, as all of the cases in which an individual was convicted of drunk driving based on the evidence provided from the breathalyzer tests will have to be reassessed. In addition, all pending cases will no longer be able to use the breathalyzer test results as evidence.
Breathalyzers and DUI convictions
Breathalyzer tests are one of the most common pieces of evidence in DUI cases, but it's important to understand that these are not the only tools used to determine if an individual has been driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
In most cases, a driver who is pulled over on the suspicion of driving while under the influence will be asked to take a breathalyzer test by the officer. Drivers can refuse these tests prior to their arrest, but refusal can lead to additional complications during or after the arrest.
In addition to breathalyzer tests, police officers are trained to perform field sobriety tests to determine if, and how much, an individual has been drinking. Of course, circumstantial evidence is often collected to provide further proof that an individual has been consuming alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel. Circumstantial evidence can include open or empty bottles of alcohol.
What to do if you find yourself facing DWI charges
The ramifications of being convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol can be severe. Considering the fact that you can suffer legal, personal and professional consequences because of this conviction, it's imperative that you hire a qualified attorney who will defend you throughout the entire process. An experienced criminal defense attorney can collect the evidence necessary to advocate for you and to ensure that you are not needlessly convicted of a serious crime.
Contact us today to set up a consultation appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney from our law firm.