Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Judiciary Under The Influence, Take 2: Supreme Court of New Jersey Approves Use Of Alcotest 7110 For Drunk Driving Cases
Previously, I wrote about how the Supreme Court of New Jersey was considering whether a new breath alcohol testing technology -- the Alcotest 7110 MK III-C -- is sufficiently reliable to be admissible in drunk driving cases as a Breathalyzer alterantive. Yesterday, the Court found that Alcotest results are admissible in a 149 page ruling. I haven't had a chance to look at the opinion in detail, but it's sure to be controversial because, as I noted before, the Court appointed retired appellate judge Michael Patrick King as special master to investigate the technology and report his findings on it; while King initially reported that the technology was unrelaible in a 268 report, he later reversed himself in a 108 page report, which indicated that despite "minor defects" with the technology, it is more reliable than the Breathalyzer.
The question thus becomes whether the Court's decsion is legitimate or whether it was a political determination to save face for the New Jersey government. You see, 10,000 drunken driving prosecutions involving the test were put on hold while the Court decided whether the test was reliable and admissible; these cases can now proceed after the Court's decsion. The Court did, however, find that Draeger, the German company whose division in Pittsburgh manufactures the Alcotest 7110, must provide programming information about the device and train defense lawyers and their witnesses in drunken driving cases to use the Alcotest.