State Ignores Supreme Court Warning on Alcohol Breath Testers

Despite a warning from its Supreme Court, New Jersey continues to expand the use of a controversial new alcohol breath testing machine across the state. The reliability and validity of readings from the new “Alcotest” device is questionable, thus endangering the rights of those suspected of driving while impaired by alcohol.

The expansion defies a letter on March 19 stressing that “no further expansion of the Alcotest project should be undertaken without obtaining prior authorization from the Supreme Court” and that such approval would be unlikely.

The expanded use of the machine continues under the direction of the state attorney general. “Normally the attorney general’s office will abide by what the Supreme court indicates that they should do. So this is very unusual” says the president of the state bar association. In fact, lawyers say they can’t remember another instance in which the attorney general has ignored any directive from the Supreme Court.

Because the state is ignoring the Supreme Court, the New Jersey Bar Association may ask the it to order trial judges not to admit any readings from the machine unless it is tested and found to be accurate.

Political pressures to further reduce the problem of driving while impaired (DUI/DWI) may have led to the disregard for the rule of law and individual rights granted by the Constitution.


  • Gold, Jeffrey. State continuing breath test rollout despite court’s warning. Newsday, April 7, 2006.

Filed Under: Breathalyzer