When it comes to challenging your Breathalyzer /Alcotest results in a New Jersey DWI case, it is vital for your attorney to be proactive. This means attacking the admissibility of the breath test results before they are received by the judge into evidence during your trial.
One requirement the prosecutor has to meet before he or she may use your breath test readings against you is to prove that the police officer who operated the machine was a “qualified operator.” In order to be qualified to operate a breath test machine, Police officers in New Jersey must be certified by the New Jersey Attorney General. The certificate is basically a license to conduct breath tests. Like any other license, it may be terminated, suspended, or expired. This last feature – expiration – can sometimes be used to successfully “suppress” the breath test results (get them thrown out).
A breathalyzer/alcotests operator’s certificate is good only for the year it was issued, plus 2 more years. So if an officer is certified on April 1, 2009, his or her certificate will expire on December 31, 2011. Before the expiration date, the officer must re-certify, that is, go back for a one-day training session.
This training session must include:
- Statutes and case law;
- Instruction and training;
- Lab practice with alcohol exposed air samples;
- A written exam; and,
- A competency exam.
A recertification is, like the initial certification, valid for the remainder of the year it is issued plus 2 more years. Proof that the officer completed these requirements can be shown by the officers certification card and the officer’s testimony.
If your defense attorney can prove that the officer was not a qualified operator, you stand a good chance of beating the breath test and possibly the entire NJ DWI-DUI case.