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Breath Tests Deemed Inadmissible in over 20,000 Drunk-Driving Convictions Throughout New Jersey

On November 13, 2018, in a unanimous decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court in State v. Eileen Cassidy (A-58-16), certain breath test results obtained using the Alcotest machine, used in over 20,000 drunk-driving convictions since 2000, were deemed inadmissible. The case arose from criminal charges brought against a State Police Alcotest coordinator who was accused of falsifying testing records on the Alcotest devices in several counties in New Jersey.  The Supreme Court relied heavily on a 198-page report prepared by the Special Master assigned to the case. Although the Supreme Court ruling does not automatically vacate all of the D.W.I. convictions, the justices clearly noted that defendants tested by the affected machines can now challenge their convictions.

By way of background, in New Jersey, a first offense for driving while intoxicated leads to the suspension of a driver’s license for a period of three months up to a year; a second offense leads to a suspension for two years; and a third offense carries mandatory jail time and a 10-year loss of license.

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