DWI 20-Minute Observation Case Approved for Publication

[10/25/09 – 7:10 pm] The Committee on Opinions has approved the publication of an important “twenty-minute observation” case which is now reported under State v. Filson, 409 N.J. Super. 246 (Law Div. 2009). Unless and until the Appellate Division considers this issue, the holding in Filson will be the guiding case for police, prosecutors, defense counsel and the municipal court bench. The holding in Filson discusses in precise detail the requirement that the police observe a subject who has been arrested for DWI for an uninterrupted period of 20-minutes before having him to submit breath samples for an Alcotest examination. The State maintains the burden of proving the twenty-minute period by clear and convincing evidence. Even a short break in the observation period requires that the officer start observing anew. These and other specific details of necessary police procedure are reviewed in the opinion.

In Filson, the State’s proofs were insufficient to prove this point, due largely to differences between the times recorded on the video, the CAD and the Alcotest unit itself.

Download a copy of State v. Filson is attached to this muni-mail.

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