Drunk driving law in New Jersey relies on quite a bit on technology, including breathalyzers. If the machine says you are drunk, then you are. This is called a per se violation and occurs if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or higher.
However, a NJ Supreme Court decision in the case of State v. Chun requires certain prerequisites to be met before the reading can be accepted as accurate by the court. The state must show, among other things, that:
- The officer has been properly trained in the operation of the machine and has an up-to-date certification;
- The machine must be properly certified as accurate by the manufacturer;
- All of the BAC readings must be in a certain range called a "tolerance";
- The machine must be properly calibrated at least once every six months using solutions that simulate BAC levels at 0.04% (for a CDL license), 0.08%, 0.10%, and 0.16%; and
- That you were observed for at least 20 minutes before the breath test was administered.
The Alcotest machine is a very complex mechanism, and all of the evidence surrounding it and the readings it gives must be analyzed carefully by your attorney to see whether it can be challenged.
This is because without that reading, the state is left with any field sobriety tests that might have been conducted, which are not as compelling as a Breathalyzer reading. Often, when this reading can be successfully challenged, the prosecutor will agree to downgrade the offense.
So What Do I Do?
If you have been charged with drunk driving here in southern New Jersey, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule a free consultation.
If you are looking for more information on New Jersey's drunk driving law, then download my free book, How Much Trouble Am I In? A Guide to New Jersey Drunk Driving Law.