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The Alcotest Breathalyzer Isn't Always Right in NJ

Breathalyzer readings are not always viewed as reliable in court.  They rely on quite a bit on technology. This is why the NJ Supreme Court case of State v. Chun requires certain prerequisites to be met before the reading can be accepted as accurate. 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.

Steven J. Richardson
Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.