Have you been stopped on suspicion of drunk driving in New Jersey? Are you facing a DWI charge in an Ocean County or Monmouth County court? Then you're probably familiar with breath testing. Even if you have never taken a breath test, you may be familiar with what one is, but don't know how exactly it works. The first thing any driver needs to know about breath testing in New Jersey is that it is mandatory under the New Jersey implied consent law. This means that, as a condition of getting your New Jersey driver's license, you have implicitly agreed to submit to breath tests when asked to by law enforcement if they suspect that you have been driving while intoxicated.
Breathalyzer Testing In New Jersey
The breathalyzer tests for the blood alcohol content (BAC) level in one's system. While it is a highly technical scientific device, its can be flawed if not operated correctly. There are a number of ways the breathalyzer results can be challenged in court, if you know where to look for possible errors. Many breath test results are challenged in court on the basis of their poor performance, faulty calibration, improper use and misinterpreted results. The Dräger Alcotest® is the breathalyzer device used by law enforcement throughout New Jersey. It is a sophisticated device that requires a certification to operate the device and regular calibration. If the machine is not calibrated or repaired correctly, it could cause the breath test results to be thrown out by a court in a DWI case. Additionally, the breath of diabetics or “mouth alcohol”, caused by chewing tobacco, acid reflux or burping, can cause faulty results warranting suppression.
After your initial traffic stop, the police will conduct a field sobriety test at the scene of the stop to detect whether they have enough probable cause for a DWI arrest. If it appears that you have been drinking or you are under the influence of drugs based on your behavior, smell, or the appearance or your driving, the police will place you under arrest for DWI.
After being arrested and escorted to the police department by an officer, you will be processed for driving while intoxicated. This can be a lengthy process depending on your level of cooperation. After being observed by police for a minimum of twenty minutes, you will be asked to submit to a breath test in which two samples of your breath will be collected for testing.
The Dräger Alcotest® device is designed to pick up gases emitted by those who are intoxicated, mix the breath with a scientific formula, and compute a BAC percentage which must meet the legal limit (0.08%) for New Jersey motorists. Anything rising above the legal limit will be grounds for a DWI charge. Failing to allow a police officer to administer a breath test will result in a refusal charges under New Jersey's statute.
Police are usually good about making sure to calibrate the Alcotest® device in the police stations, but mistakes with calibrations can happened. Even with proper calibration of the Alcotest® device, it still needs to be handled only by properly trained operators in order for the results to be admissible in court. Breath test results can also be distorted by what is known as “mouth alcohol”, caused by things like belching, acid reflux, chewing tobacco and other causes.