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East Brunswick, NJ 08816-1333
Phone: 732.937.9100
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New Controversy Over DWI Alcotest (Alcohol Breath Machine) is Brewing
March 27, 2014
Topic: Traffic/DUI

When arrested in New Jersey for drunk driving (DWI/DUI) you will be required to give breath samples to determine your blood-alcohol content on a machine called the Alcotest. The Alcotest machine was deemed scientifically reliable and authorized for statewide use by the New Jersey Supreme Court in a 2008 ruling entitled State v. Chun , 194 N.J. 54. That decision required that the Alcotest machine and its temperature sensor be calibrated every six months for accuracy.

Now, issues have been raised putting the Alcotest and its readings in question once again. In two separate counties (Monmouth and Mercer), judges have clashed over the type of temperature probe that can be used to calibrate the Alcotest machine-the probe used in State v. Chun known as the Ertco-Hart thermometer, or the less expensive one made by Control Corp.-particularly because the Chun case never mentioned use of a sensor other than the Ertco-Hart thermometer. In Monmouth County, a judge recently threw out the Alcotest reading in a drunk driving case because the Alcotest machine’s temperature probe was not the Ertco-Hart thermometer as mentioned in Chun. A similar challenge to a drunk driving charge in Mercer County, however, brought different results. In the Mercer County case, the judge refused to toss the drunken driver charge for failure to use the Ertco-Hart probe, finding that the Supreme Court ruling did not exclude use of substitute temperature probes.

What does this mean to those charged with drunk driving where an Alcotest temperature probe other than the Ertco-Hart sensor was used? It may just depend upon which county and which judge the case is heard. Ultimately, this controversy will have to be resolved by the New Jersey Appellate Division and, perhaps, the New Jersey Supreme Court.

If you have received a drunk driving charge or other traffic tickets, call the Law Office of Todd B. Eder, at (732) 937-9100 or contact us online for statewide representation.