Can I Challenge the Results of the Breath Test in My New Jersey DWI Case?

This week in our New Jersey DWI series, we will discuss one of the most important facets of a DWI case in New Jersey: the results of the breath test, specifically, the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the offense. Blood alcohol content is typically used to establish proof of intoxication, which must exceed 0.08% in order to prove that an adult is legally in violation of New Jersey’s DWI statute, found under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.

Due to the importance of the breath test in DWI prosecutions, it is critical to challenge the admissibility of the test in court if possible. Fortunately, there are many potential issues with breath tests, ranging from the Alcotest 7110 breath testing device itself, to the specific protocol that must be followed prior to and during the administration of these tests. Some of the most effective ways to challenge a breath test reading in a DWI case include:

  • Undermining the validity of the machine function, inspection, or certification: machines must be properly calibrated, inspected every month, and issued a certification by a Breath Test Coordinator Instructor. If the police cannot provide proof of these qualifications, the breath sample may be deemed inadmissible.
  • Challenging the qualifications or certifications of the officer operating the breath testing device: if the officer was not properly trained, certified, or his or her certification expired, the testing results may be ruled out.
  • A number of intervening variables may skew the results of a breath test and thus, may provide grounds to undermine the validity of the test. For instance, if you smoked a cigarette, vomited, used an inhaler, chewed gum, used mouthwash, etc., the results of the test may be considered invalid.
  • The officer failed to follow the requirements of the 20-minute observation period: The officer must observe you for a full and uninterrupted 20 minutes prior to administering the breath test. If this obligation is not fulfilled, the breath test may not be used by the State during your DWI case.

All of the aforementioned circumstances may provide valid issues to be raised when constructing your defense. Thoroughly investigating the trajectory of your case, from the initial stop to the administration and evaluation of your breath sample, often produces the leverage necessary to successfully overcome your DWI charges.

For a consultation about your New Jersey DWI charges, contact The Law Offices of Edward S. Cooper at (908) 481-4625.