New Court Ruling Could Delay Thousands of DUI Cases across New Jersey
A State Appeals court ruled on Tuesday that some aspects of the reliability of the Alcotest device which measures a motorist’s intoxication will be re-examined by a Superior Court judge. That hearing is to be held within 60 days, but the decision of said hearing will likely not be reported for several months.
Motorists who currently have pending driving while intoxicated charges throughout New Jersey will likely have their cases delayed pending the results of the hearing. The issue revolves around drunken-driving cases where there are challenges that were made to the quality of the Ertco-Hart temperature probe used calibrate the Alcotest 7110 MKIII-C breath-testing device.
The State has been using a temperature probe manufactured by Control Co. Inc. The attorney for motorist Nicole Holland who was charged with drunken driving in Neptune in 2009, challenged the current temperature probe as inferior to the one the Supreme Court found reliable.
The appeals court on Tuesday, concluded that the Supreme Court did not literally mean that all Alcotest components have to be produced all the time by the same manufacturers to maintain scientific reliability. But it found that in two state cases, further hearings are warranted.
Defense attorneys said that a large number of driving while intoxicated cases in municipal courts across the state likely will be put on hold until the outcome of the hearings on the quality of the Control Co. temperature probe. Before the Supreme Court passed on the Alcotest as a device to replace the outdated Breathalyzer, nearly 10,000 drunken driving cases were put on hold.
Between July 2009 and June 2010, the last full court year for which statistics are available, there were 36,064 summonses issued for driving drunk in New Jersey.
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