Trenton, NJ- More than 20,000 Breathalyzer tests might be tossed out after it was discovered the machines were apparently not properly calibrated.
New Jersey State Police Sgt. Marc Dennis allegedly mishandled the devices that determine a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC), the state’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, according to NJ Advance Media.
Sgt. Marc Dennis was in charge of calibrating the devices, and authorities have alleged that he skipped a required step in the calibration process. Dennis has denied any wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty to records tampering and other charges.
The accusations against Dennis called into question any test result involving a machine he handled, including devices used by local police in Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, and Union counties between 2008 and 2016.
The sergeant pleaded not guilty in January 2017 to official misconduct and records tampering charges after he was accused in 2016 of lying about the Breathalyzer machines on official documents.
The court’s decision means that as many as 20,667 DWI convictions could now be challenged, according to state authorities and the lawyer for the now-dead plaintiff who brought the case that the court ruled on.
The Supreme Court sided with Judge Joseph Lisa, who was appointed as a special master to handle the issue. He found the step omission raised substantial doubts about the reliability of the machines.
As part of their decision, the justices ordered state authorities to notify anyone whose case involved results from machines Dennis calibrated. They must tell them that those results were not scientifically sound, so they can decide whether they want to go to court and seek to have their convictions vacated