Could Your DWI Conviction Be Reopened?

On November 13th, 2018, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that 20,667 DWI convictions in the state were tainted by an improperly calibrated breathalyzer test.  The case of State v. Eileen Cassidy, centered around the misconduct by former New Jersey Police Sergeant Marc W. Dennis, who allegedly skipped a required step in the recalibrating of breathalyzer devices and then falsified records to conceal his conduct. 

In its Ruling, the Supreme Court of New Jersey accepted the findings of the State’s appointed Special Master Joseph R. Lisa, J.A.D. (retired) — thereby affirming that more than 20,000 New Jersey DWI convictions were based on unreliable, legally inadmissible breathalyzer evidence.

The Decision —Sergeant Dennis Failed to Calibrate DWI Test; Falsified Records

In 2000, the State of New Jersey began using Alcotest breathalyzer machines to test subjects suspected of drunk driving.  State scientists developed a calibration process that was designed to ensure that the machines produced accurate, reliable results.  In calibrating the Alcotest breathalyzer, officers must ensure that they use a sample that is heated to 34 degrees Celsius — the approximate temperature of human breath. 

In five New Jersey Counties (Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset and Union), Sergeant Dennis was responsible for calibrating these machines for a seven-year period.  In 2016, investigators determined that this officer failed to properly calibrate the machines in accordance with state regulations and falsified the testing records he was submitting to the State Police.  As reported by the Asbury Park Press, Sergeant Dennis was indicted on criminal charges of tampering with official public records in 2016.

In May of 2018, Judge Lisa concluded that more than 20,000 DWI convictions were based on unreliable breathalyzer evidence.  In reviewing this issue, the Supreme Court of New Jersey has agreed with the Judge Lisa’s assessment: The breath test results that were produced by the Alcotest machines that were improperly calibrated by Sergeant Dennis are unreliable and legally inadmissible.

The implications of this ruling are significant.  The state’s highest court has confirmed that thousands of DWI convictions in New Jersey rest — at least in part — on fundamentally tainted evidence that is not admissible in court.

Was Your DWI Conviction Tainted?

If you were convicted of a DUI in New Jersey, your case may have been tainted by officer misconduct.  If your conviction was affected by these tests, you may have legal grounds to reopen your case and possible vacate your conviction.

Get Help From a New Jersey DWI Defense Lawyers Today

To find out more about your options, please do not hesitate to contact William McGuinn at wmcguinn@hoaglandlongo.com or call 732-545-4717 today.