Breathalyzer Calibration Issues and Challenging DUI Evidence

In recent weeks, the Edward M. Janzekovich Law Blog has covered developments in the case of falsified calibration records for New Jersey’s only official breathalyzer machines – the Alcotest 7110 Mk-III. Questions of false DUI convictions based on unreliable Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) evidence were raised after it came to light that state police Sergeant Marc Dennis may have falsely certified that he calibrated Alcotest devices at various police departments throughout multiple counties. He subsequently received charges for fourth-degree falsifying records and third-degree tampering with records.

Now, it turns out that New Jersey’s case is not an isolated incident. Part way across the country, in Gilpin County, Colorado, a defense attorney is making claims against that state under similar circumstances. The challenges in New Jersey and Colorado, as well as challenges to the reliability of Alcotest results in other states like Massachusetts, demonstrate how important it is to speak with an experienced drunk driving lawyer every time you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Evidence cannot always be taken at face value, and a knowledgeable attorney will know where to look and how to challenge the case being brought against you.

Forgery and a Challenge to Colorado’s Breathalyzer Program

In defending his client, a Colorado attorney recently discovered evidence that could affect the breathalyzer program in that state. Like in New Jersey, Colorado requires that its breathalyzers be regularly calibrated to ensure that they are accurate. A former Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment lab worker has made statements that his signature was forged on important state documents used to certify breathalyzer testing. This means that someone else was using his name to sign off that calibration was performed or performed in a specific way. It is unknown if the tests were ever even performed.

The following photographs, comparing real and forged signatures, were used to support the claims, and former co-workers of the employee have testified that they used his name to sign documents.

Forged Breathalyzer Calibration

The same state worker has also admitted to putting his signature on other forms, to authenticate that calibration tests had occurred, even though he had not seen the tests performed. Other evidence uncovered during this process shows that some of the signatures on calibration certifying documents belong to employees who were not even working at the time their signatures were used.

If the judge in this case is willing to dismiss the DUI evidence based on the falsified breathalyzer calibration documents, it could bring into question many breathalyzer results used in Colorado courts over the last four years.

Why Calibration Records are Important

As a driver in New Jersey, if you are charged with drunk driving, one of the primary pieces of evidence the state may use to try and convict you is BAC evidence based on a breathalyzer test. In some circumstances, this is the only admissible evidence against you and, without it, the prosecution may be forced to dismiss its entire case.
BAC and breathalyzer evidence is also based on science. In the 2008 case of State v. Chun, the New Jersey Supreme Court found that, for BAC evidence to be admissible, both the breath samples and the testing equipment must adhere to stringent guidelines to be considered scientifically reliable as a matter of law.

If the law requires that the government calibrate its equipment in a specific way, it means failing to properly calibrate the machines can cause them to be inaccurate. Even if the inaccuracy is small, that could make a big difference for the thousands of people who are tested on the equipment – some of whom may be found guilty by a very slight margin. For instance, a BAC of .08% is evidence of drunk driving, while a .079% is not.

An experienced DUI attorney makes it his job to find false DUI evidence or falsified DUI records. Without reliable testing, innocent people could be convicted. At the same time, the government should want BAC evidence to be reliable, so that proper convictions are not based on fraudulent evidence. If you or someone you know is charged for driving while intoxicated, a good lawyer will review all the evidence and may even be able to have the case dismissed against you completely.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Will Work to Defend You

If you or someone you know is charged for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the government must present clear and convincing evidence that you were driving while intoxicated. A knowledgeable drunk driving attorney will know how to review this evidence and present the best defense in the case. An experienced DWI/DUI attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.