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Breathalyzer test results are not infallible

You met some friends for a quick beer after work, but the police pulled you over after leaving due to a taillight being out. The officer smelled alcohol on your breath, and after a breathalyzer was given, you tested over the limit. But were you really over the limit? Should you fight the result?

Readings may not be accurate

You may be tempted to accept your fate without challenging the results. After all, the machine said you were over the limit, even though you only had one beer with your meal, then drove home. However, breathalyzer units are not immune from error.

Proper calibration is necessary

In October 2017, over 20,000 people in New Jersey were notified that that their DWI cases were under review. The police sergeant responsible for overseeing breathalyzer units in five counties was later charged for falsifying records after he failed to calibrate the sensors in accordance with the state’s requirements over a seven year time span.

In 2018, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the breathalyzer tests given by these uncalibrated units were inadmissible, because the temperature of the control solution was not checked. The control solution inside the breathalyzer has to match body temperature, or else the reading is at risk of being inaccurate. This step was deliberately skipped by the New Jersey officer in charge of the units. This specific calibration rule did not come from the manufacturer of the units, but was put in place by the Chief Forensic Scientist of the NJ State Police.

Because a DWI charge hinges on these readings, the risk of error erodes an individual’s legal rights. The expert testifying in the NJ Supreme Court case stated that even if the control solution was off by one degree that blood alcohol measurements could be off by 7%.

A robust criminal defense is essential

This situation highlights the need for a solid criminal defense strategy when facing a DWI charge. The penalties for driving under the influence are life changing. You want to make sure that the evidence collected against you stands up to scrutiny.

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