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Bad Breath: Are DUI Breath Tests Always Right?

If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated, you were likely given a blood alcohol test using a device called the Alcotest 7110 MK-111. The Alcotest is a device that measures the amount of alcohol in the breath and thereby the alcohol content of the blood.

Here’s how it works.  Once a suspect breathes into the Alcotest, the air enters a chamber in the device, triggering two means of detecting alcohol. The Alcotest calculates the concentration of alcohol in the breath sample and therefore, in the blood. There has been controversy over whether the Alcotest is always accurate.

In State v. Chun (2008), the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the reliability, and admissibility of the Alcotest in court.  Some feared at the time that this would make the results of an Alcotest ironclad and unbeatable. However, a number of defenses can challenge an unfavorable Alcotest result, many of them suggested in the Chun case itself.  The Supreme Court ruled that Alcotest results are admissible only if the prosecution can prove three things:

  1. Alcotest device was in working order and had been properly inspected
  2. The operator who administered the test was properly certified
  3. Test was administered according to the proper procedure

A good legal defense examines the evidence for ways to challenge some or all of these preconditions to get the Alcotest results ruled inadmissible. The Alcotest itself contains a margin of error, even if all conditions are met. A good DWI attorney will use this margin of error to your advantage in your defense if possible. Contact us if you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated.  We are ready to defend you.

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