On December 18, 2019, I appeared in the Hillsdale Municipal Court for a client who was charged with DWI (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50) with an alleged BAC of 0.14 as well as other charges. This meant that he was facing a license suspension of 7 months as well as other penalties under the law at the time of his arrest based on the breath reading.
I was able to challenge the breath reading because of a two minute lockout issue in this case. The software for the Alcotest 7110 MKIII-C breath test machine was programmed to provide a two minute period between breath tests. This is to ensure that alcohol from the mouth does not interfere with the next breath sample.
In this case, since the breath samples were taken less than two minutes apart, I was able to convince the prosecutor to agree to exclude the breath test from the case. Without the breath reading, this meant that the finding of guilt in his case resulted in only a 3 months loss of driving privileges for the DWI charge under the law at the time of the arrest.
The penalties for DWI in New Jersey changed on December 1, 2019. However, drivers charged with DWI under the new law should still be aware of the importance of fighting the breath test. Excluding the breath reading from trial may mean that the driver can install an interlock device in his or her car in order to reduce the length of license forfeiture penalty of DWI. For example, a driver with a breath test result of 0.15 or greater would lose his or her driving privileges for a period of 4 to 6 months.
While the changes in the law are still new and it remains to be seen how the courts deal with these changes, I predict that by excluding a breath test result of 0.15 or greater, a driver would be eligible to install an ignition interlock device to reduce his or her period of license suspension.
If you have been charged with drunk driving in New Jersey, it is important to speak to a DWI/DUI defense attorney about the penalties you are facing and the defenses you may have.
Jason T. Komninos, Esq. offers free consultations and can be reached at (201) 343-4622.