A breath test used in thousands of drunken driving cases in New Jersey is in limbo as the State Supreme Court considers whether the instrument provides reliable blood-alcohol level readings, reports the Associated Press. The outcome will affect at least 10,000 drunken driving cases that have been hung up – some for more than a year – over questions about the reliability of the Alcotest 7110. The Alcotest is a successor to the Breathalyzer machine and is used in 17 of the state’s 21 counties. The four others still use the Breathalyzer.
Alabama, New York, and Massachusetts also use the Alcotest, manufactured by Draeger Safety Diagnostics. The New Jersey case was said to be first appellate-level test of the machine in any state. Defense lawyers contend the machine can produce erroneous readings, but the state says it is accurate. Marcia Cunningham of the National Traffic Law Center, which trains prosecutors in traffic matters, said the science behind the Alcotest was solid. “The role of the defense is to raise clouds,” she said. “If you have science involved, it’s relatively easy to make things look murky. Anyone familiar with the science used in breath tests is very confident in the results.”