Judge Rules New Alcohol Breath Test

The following press release comes from the Office of the Attorney General: (12/12/03)

Judge Rules New Alcohol Breath Test “Accurate” and “Reliable”

New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi announced today that a New Jersey Superior Court judge has determined that a new evidential alcohol breath test known as the Alcotest 7110 is “scientifically accurate and reliable” to measure blood-alcohol percentage. In his written decision, Assignment Judge Francis J. Orlando Jr. of the state Superior Court in Camden ruled that, because they are scientifically sound, Alcotest readings “therefore will be admitted into evidence without the need for expert testimony.”

The device uses infrared light and electrochemical cell technology to determine the presence of ethanol in a breath sample. The Alcotest 7110 was placed in operation in Pennsauken Township between December 2000 and December 2001. The device was used to produce Alcohol Influence Reports on 357 people during those 13 months.

Approximately 20 defendants in cases of alleged Driving While Intoxicated in Pennsauken challenged the scientific reliability of Alcotest 7110. The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office applied to the Superior Court for a consolidated hearing, which the court granted. Judge Orlando heard testimony between Sept. 8, 2003, and Oct. 14, 2003. Deputy Attorneys General Stephen Munson and Christine Hoffman teamed with Assistant Camden County Prosecutors Joshua Ottenberg and Gladys Rodriguez to present the state’s case.

“We are pleased that the court has found this new technology to be effective and reliable,” Harvey stated. “With the technological advances achieved in recent years, it makes good sense for the law enforcement community to
progress to an evidential breath analyzer that is more reliable and easier to administer than the Breathalyzer.”

Sarubbi and Harvey credited the attorneys who argued successfully in favor of Alcotest 7110.

“This decision clearly has statewide impact,” Sarubbi said. “I am proud that my office and Pennsauken Police played such an integral role in helping to achieve the law enforcement community’s bottom line

objective: making New Jersey’s roads and highways as safe as they can possibly be.”

In his decision, Judge Orlando noted that during the 13 months the device was used in Pennsauken, “a high and unacceptable number of persons who attempted to deliver a breath sample … were charged with refusal to submit to a chemical test” in violation of New Jersey motor vehicle law. Some of those people, were “seemingly making a good faith effort to deliver a breath sample,” Orlando concluded.

“New Jersey must make changes in the software/firmware’s requirements for the 7110 and/or instructions given to those who are about to use the instrument,” Orlando wrote. “Until this problem is eliminated, no person who delivers a breath sample of 0.5 liters of air or greater … may be charged with refusal.”

Attorney General Harvey stated that, “The State is aware of the issue and is in the process of taking steps to address it.”

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