Could There Be a New Defense to Your DWI Case?
In a world increasingly controlled by machines and technology, one thing is certain. Human error or negligence can impact the effectiveness of equipment. In fact, you might be surprised. Such failures could actually prove advantageous to thousands charged with driving while intoxicated. How about you? Could there be a new defense to your DWI case? Could a prior conviction be overturned?
There’s a good chance you’ve already heard the news as it’s unfolded over the last couple of years. It begins with the story of a state police technician and the way he calibrated Alcotest machines. As you might guess, the police likely used an Alcotest device to take your breath sample when you were charged with DWI. Many non-law enforcement officials refer to this type of machine as a breathalyzer.
Think about it. If you step on your bathroom scale and don’t like the weight it says, you may decide that it’s because it’s not calibrated correctly. No doubt you might be fooling yourself. However, a recent court case on improperly calibrated Alcotest devices takes the matter quite seriously.
Just how seriously, you might ask? Let’s put it this way. You might receive a notification from the courts if you were charged with or convicted of DWI between 2008 and 2016. It boils down to a major conclusion decided by the court. Over 20,000 Alcotest results issued during that time period are now invalid.
DWI and Alcotest Device Results
The late Eileen Cassidy did not live to see the outcome of the New Jersey Supreme Court case naming her as a party. The court elected to continue consideration of State v. Cassidy even though she had already passed away from a terminal illness.
Truth be told, Eileen Cassidy was not a stranger to charges for driving while intoxicated. When she appeared in court as a third-time offender, she surely knew she faced severe penalties. Nevertheless, Cassidy was informed that the Alcotest readings showed her blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeded the legal limit of .08%.
In New Jersey, DWI on its own is similar to other motor vehicle offenses. That said, cases are considered quasi-criminal. This means the court determines the outcome of DWI matters upon deliberation of evidence establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
More than likely, Cassidy recognized that admitting the positive breathalyzer reading would result in a conviction. She, therefore, pled guilty to the charges without realizing what would happen next.
The news hit showing that a police official had not only failed to properly calibrate the devices, but also falsified the results. Upon review, the court found that there was no way of authenticating any of the readings and deemed them all invalid. The police technician currently faces criminal prosecution.
In the meantime, Cassidy’s story did not end with her guilty plea. When she learned that she was affected by the faulty results, Cassidy withdrew her plea. The lower court rejected her assertion and still convicted Cassidy. Posthumously, the New Jersey Supreme Court vacated the conviction.
What this Means to Your DWI Defense
The faulty Alcotests results were offered as evidence in a number of counties. As a result, there is a mad rush to notify all defendants that they may have been affected by them. For some, their day in court may have long passed. However, that’s not to say that justice is unavailable.
As the court has determined that the faulty test results are inadmissible, some matters may be retried. Others will be abandoned upon determination of insufficient evidence.
The bottom line is that machines and technology are great assets in many cases. However, one man’s failure is a reminder of how they can also have a negative impact.
Driving while intoxicated charges can seriously impact your life. Is there a chance the recent Supreme Court ruling applies to you? Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone to learn how we can assist you with this very critical issue.