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State's Failure to Properly Calibrate Alcohol Breath Test Machine Nullifies More Than 20,000 DWI Charges

State's Failure to Properly Calibrate Alcohol Breath Test Machine Nullifies More Than 20,000 DWI Charges

November 13, 2018
Attorneys

While nobody should ever drink and drive, there are no shortage of theories and other bizarre methods that have been used – or rather, attempted to be used – to “beat” a police breath test. In fact, a variety of these methods were featured in an episode of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters; none were deemed effective. Turns out, however, that beating a breath test in order to avoid a DWI conviction may not be necessary when the State fails to properly calibrate its testing devices. The New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Cassidy, decided on November 13, 2018, found that breath test results produced by many Alcotest machines (the machine used by the State to analyze breath samples and calculate blood-alcohol levels) used in several counties throughout the State, in over 20,000 DWI cases, were unreliable, and therefore inadmissible, because the procedure used to calibrate those machines was not compliant with required scientific standards.

In addition to ruling that the test results produced by the improperly calibrated Alcotest machines were not scientifically reliable, the Supreme Court ordered the State to notify all affected defendants of its decision, and that their Alcotest results are inadmissible. The overall impact of this decision will be revealed over time, but potentially thousands of DWI convictions may be overturned as a result.