Exceptional Qualifications in DWI Defense
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.3, breathalyzer results are only valid if they are administered by a police officer who is certified as a “breath test operator.” This qualification requirement is set forth at length at Section 13:51-1.3 of the New Jersey Administrative Code and provides that:
no operator may conduct a valid analysis of an arrested person’s breath under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.3, 39:3-10.25 or 12:7-56, unless such operator has been issued a valid operator’s certificate which is valid at the time of the analysis of an arrested person’s breath and which attests that such operator is then qualified and competent to conduct such analysis utilizing an approved method and an approved instrument as set forth at N.J.A.C. 13:51-3.
In every driving while intoxicated case it is therefore necessary for the prosecutor to establish that the police officer who operated the breath test was certified to operate the Alcotest. This element is established by presenting a valid operator’s card. While it might seem far-fetched, our attorneys win a significant number of cases every year by pressing the prosecution hard on this issue. The state may be unable to produce a valid and up-to-date operator’s card for various reasons and our lawyers make sure to flush this out in every DWI case we handle. Give us a call for assistance anytime 24/7 at 877-450-8301.
How Long is an Operator’s Card Valid?
The administrative code outlines the terms for validity and duration of breathalyzer certifications at 13:51-1.7. For initial certification of an operator, the card is valid for the remainder of the year of issuance plus the succeeding two (2) calendar years. The same duration applies to recertifications. Once an operator’s card has expired, the officer’s authority to operate the Alcotest breathalyzer is suspended and any tests thereafter conducted by him are invalid and inadmissible to prove blood alcohol content.
What Must Be Contained in the Certification Card?
The law refers to the certification card as a replica, meaning a reproduction of the actual certificate of completion. A replica is valid when: (1) it is in the form approved by the state; (2) it bears the name of the officer; (3) it is signed by a Breath Test Coordinator/Instructor; and (4) is dated appropriately.
Operator qualification to operate the breath test is a fundamental requirement that must be presented by the prosecution in a New Jersey DWI case. Our attorneys know very well how to press this issue and, in fact, most of them even hold a certification to operate and maintain the Alcotest. A lawyer at the DWI defense firm we have assembled would be happy to assist you any time of day and initial consultations are free of charge. Give us a call.