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State to Review DWI Cases Following Testing Scandal

The Law Office of Joel M. Bacher May 10, 2018

New Jersey drivers who are facing a DWI charge may be interested to learn that, on May 4, it was reported that at least 20,000 cases may have been affected by potentially unreliable DWI test results. A 200-page report that was released by the state judiciary indicated that there were allegations of misconduct on behalf of a state trooper.

In 2016, a sergeant with the State Police Alcohol Drug Testing Unit was accused of lying on documents about performing temperature checks on the devices that measure drivers’ blood alcohol levels. The temperature checks are required when calibrating the machines, which are known as Alcotest devices. Officials noted that the temperature checks were not scientifically accessory, though they are required under rules set by the Supreme Court.

If the devices were not calibrated correctly, they could result in unreliable test results. The devices that were handled by the sergeant were used in five counties from 2008 to 2016. The judiciary was notified of the accusations in September 2016 and defendants whose cases may be involved were notified in October. Ultimately, 20,667 cases were found to be potentially affected.

Authorities and personnel who play any sort of role in a drunk driving case must follow proper procedures when gathering processing and storing evidence. If it is found that they were not followed during a case, the person accused or convicted of a drunk driving charge could have his or her case revisited. A criminal law attorney may challenge the prosecution or seek to have a conviction overturned if there is evidence that the results of a DWI test were not obtained properly.

Source: New Jersey, “20K DWI cases could be tossed after judge finds ‘substantial doubts’ in State Police lab scandal“, S.P. Sullivan, May 4, 2018