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Joseph A. Lombardo

Breathalyzers are notoriously unreliable, the devices throw false readings with increasing regularity and put many drivers who would otherwise be operating their vehicles legally in the crosshairs of a costly DUI or DWI. It’s not remotely, what anyone would consider justice, and in New Jersey, it may cost authorities the use of their defective equipment.   A quasi-criminal action filed last year in the Supreme Court of New Jersey (Docket #72,341), seeks to hold the state accountable for at least doing what they said they were going to do with their breathalyzers, particularly the Alcotest 7110.

Dropping the Ball on Software Updates

When the court agreed that the Alcotest 7110 was reliable for use in sobriety tests in New Jersey in 2008, the court also required authorities to make nine substantive changes to its software, and to create a centralized database. Five years later, authorities are still using the devices running outdated software in violation of the court order, all the while prosecutors continue to convict drivers for DWI offenses with evidence gathered from Alcotest 7110 breathalyzers.

It took the state four years to complete a centralized repository for date culled from these breathalyzers, and according to court documents, that system is rife with incomplete and inconsistent data. State authorities have seemingly turned blind eyes to both stipulations set by the court, and instead chosen to focus on the part where they get to charge as many drivers as they like using (what by now must surely be faulty) equipment.

The Repository Holds Inaccurate Data

When the state first created its Alcotest Inquiry System, they issued results from breathalyzer tests in the system using CD-ROMs, then as soon as the system went fully digital in 2012, they did away with the real copies opting for downloads as the sole means for DWI defendants to receive evidence on discovery. Two problems arose: 1. the state charged anywhere from $5 to $60 a search and 2. CD-ROM data and digital download for the same cases reflected vastly different breathalyzer data, according to court documents.

In short, the CD-ROM said one thing, and the digital download said another. Which data is credible? When it comes to defense lawyers advocating for their clients, if one set is untrustworthy, then there’s absolutely no reason to assume the other set is any more valid. With the data in doubt, how can anyone in their right minds rely on information gathered from Alcotest breathalyzers to convict those charged with DWI in New Jersey?

Every driver of any vehicle in the state needs to be aware of the situation. The state, too, should look to last year’s court ruling in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where a state judge threw out dozens of DUI convictions and charges citing the defective nature of the Intoxilyzer 5000. Outdated tech does not save lives. It harms the innocent, and weakens the justice system as a whole.

Shape up.

If you, or someone you love, is facing a charge of driving under the influence in New Jersey, you need an experienced law firm to ensure your rights are upheld. Contact our law office today for an immediate consultation with our attorneys. We can help.


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