In New Jersey, individuals stopped for drunk driving have their blood alcohol level tested by an Alcotest Breathalyzer. One of the key prerequisites the courts have imposed on the acceptance of these test results as proof of intoxication is that the police officer must observe the driver for at least 20 uninterrupted minutes prior to administering the test. This requirement became key in an appeal of a conviction to the Superior Court, Mercer County in the case of State v. Filson.
In its ruling on April 16, 2009, in an opinion not approved for publication (and thus not available to be cited as authority, or as a ruling binding on other judges), the court acquitted the driver because the officer who operated the Alcotest did not continuously observe the driver for the required 20-minutes before administering the breath test. The break in observation occurred when the officer left the room to remove a cell-phone that had been in possession of the driver.
Although not a published opinion, it was based on an in-depth analysis of the 20-minute observation requirement along with how this issue is handled in other states. Hopefully, other judges, when given the opportunity, will follow this judge's lead on this issue. Therefore, anyone charged with drunk driving should be sure to address this in their case.
If you have been charged with drunk driving 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.