Alcotest Results Dumped in “20-Minute” Violation – State v. Filson

A judge of the Superior Court has acquitted a defendant on a drunk driving charge following a municipal appeal based upon a violation of the so-called “20-minute observation” rule. In an April 16th opinion captioned State v. Filson, Mercer County Judge Mitchell Ostrer found that the officer who operated the Alcotest did not continuously observe the defendant for the required 20-minutes before administering the breath test. The break in observation occurred when the officer left the testing room to remove a cell-phone that had been in possession of the defendant.

Judge Ostrer’s opinion contains an in-depth analysis of the reasons behind the 20-minute observation rule and a compilation from around the nation on how this issue is treated in other jurisdictions.

The opinion in Filson has not been approved for publication. Accordingly, use of this decision should be made in strict conformity with Rule 1:36-3. Because the case was resolved by way of acquittal, it is unlikely it will be reviewed by the Appellate Division due to issues related to double jeopardy. (See generally State v. Costello, 224 N.J. Super. 157 (App. Div. 1988))

Download a copy of State v. Filson.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive