In New Jersey, driving while intoxicated is a motor vehicle offense and not a criminal offense. However, the charge and conviction is accompanied by penalties that can be expensive in terms of fines, time-consuming with the requirement to attend alcohol classes and inconvenient when losing one’s driver’s license for a long period of time. Unlike some charges, a DWI cannot be expunged from one’s record.
When a law officer stops an individual on suspicion of a DWI, the driver will be instructed to submit to a breath test using the Alcotest® 7110 MKIII-C breath testing device, the breathalyzer currently operated by law enforcement throughout New Jersey. The results of this test, if operated lawfully, will be used to prove the level of intoxication of the driver at the time of the arrest in court.
The New Jersey police officers who are involved in both the arrest and operation of the Alcotest® breathalyzer are required to follow a set of procedures in order to ensure that the DWI charge is legitimate and the evidence can hold up in court.
Breath Test Must be Administered in a Reasonable Time Frame
A breath test must be conducted in a “reasonable” time following the DWI stop by police. While there is no distinct time limit on the wait time between the stop and the breath test, New Jersey case law has consistently held that it must be objectively reasonable given the circumstances. This is to prevent an attempt on the part of the officer from delaying the test in order to garner a sample at its highest possible BAC level.
Twenty Minute Observation of Driver Required
Between the time of arrest and the operation of the breathalyzer, the arrested individual must also be observed by at least one police officer for a continuous twenty minute period. The twenty minute rule is important because, if the arrested individual is not under observation for those twenty straight minutes, he or she could smoke a cigarette, chew gum or do something that could inhibit the ability of the officer to receive an accurate reading on the test. If the twenty minutes of observation is interrupted, then it must start over again in order for the breath test to be admissible.
Speak to an Experienced DWI Attorney
The breathalyzer equipment used to determine a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is a sensitive piece of machinery that must be operated correctly. If something occurs within the time that a person suspected of DWI is waiting to have the test taken, it can lead to a result that might not be accurate and wind up with a conviction when there shouldn’t have been one.
Have you been charged with DWI and believe that there may have been a violation of the time limitations in order to give an accurate BAC test? If so, it’s important that you secure experienced legal representation to provide a sound defense. Contact the law firm of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey about your DWI charge and get an evaluation of your options. Villani & DeLuca’s experienced DWI lawyers provide free consultations to those facing DWI charges in Ocean County and Monmouth County, New Jersey.