LIKE IT OR NOT, THE ALCOTEST IS HERE TO STAY ― AT LEAST FOR NOW

If you have the unfortunate experience of being stopped for suspected drunken driving in New Jersey, you may be subject to the use of new, controversial, and possibly flawed, investigation technology: the Alcotest.

The Alcotest is a breath-testing device connected to a computer platform that is usually administered at the police station. New Jersey switched from the old Breathalyzer technology to the Alcotest in 2005. The use of the Alcotest was suspended in 2006 when 20 people charged with driving under the influence (DUI) sued, challenging its accuracy. In 2008, the New Jersey State Supreme Court approved the use of the Alcotest - so long as the state fixed nine major software glitches.

Recently, however, the court reversed its own decision and determined that the state no longer has to correct those defects. The reason was because the state showed it was infeasible to comply with the court's 2008 order. Further, the court held that the Alcotest "remains scientifically reliable, and generates results that are admissible" as evidence of DUI of alcohol.

Still, the Court held that at least one limit on the test's use should remain: women over age 60 cannot be prosecuted for refusing to take the Alcotest. The court also added that these women cannot be charged or convicted if the Alcotest is the only evidence against them because they usually lack the lung capacity to blow the 1.5 liters of air needed for an optimal test result.

Despite the controversy, it is likely the Alcotest's days are numbered in New Jersey. State officials have stated they plan to start using an error-free version of the Alcotest in late 2016. In the meantime, the Alcotest is still in use.

DUI in the state of New Jersey is a serious offense, which can carry some steep penalties. Thus, the accuracy of the Alcotest's results is of critical importance. If you or anyone you know has been arrested on suspicion of DUI, it is imperative that you contact a skilled and professional DUI defense attorney right away.

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