Around 20,000 New Jersey drivers could have their DWI charges overturned because a state police officer tampered with breathalyzer machines.
A letter has gone out to anyone arrested for drunk driving between 2008 and 2016 in Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset or Union counties, reported Pix 11.
“This letter is to inform you there may have been an issue in the proceedings of your DWI case,” the letter states.
The letter notes the criminal behavior of the Alcohol Drug Testing Unit, State Police Sgt. Marc Dennis.
Dennis is accused of improperly calibrating the Alcotest, New Jersey’s alcohol breath test device, by skipping the critical step of setting the temperature at 100 degrees, which throws off the readings.
“If that temperature is off, if it is below that benchmark or higher, the simulator will emit more vapor and the reading is not gonna be accurate,” said Jonathan Marshall, a Monmouth County defense attorney.
The letter states Dennis improperly calibrated the tests in Asbury Park, Long Branch and Marlboro on Oct. 6 and 7 in 2015, and this “may call into question all the calibrations performed by Sergeant Dennis over the course of his career as a coordinator, and might possibly entitle you to future relief.”
Dennis reportedly denies all of the charges.
The state is facing other legal problems from an employee intentionally falsifying thousands of records to convict innocent people.
Pix 11 reported:
Earlier this year, a scientist in the state’s drug lab, Kamalkant Shah, was charged with falsifying marijuana tests. He reported that he processed almost 8,000 pieces of evidence that he allegedly never tested. A Sussex County attorney, George Daggett, has sent a letter of intent to sue the state on behalf of his clients who were convicted based on evidence processed by Shah.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing break downs in the internal controls,” said Marshall. “People inundated with too much work, laziness, poor judgement – just a litany of factors that come into play for people to behave in this way. But obviously you see the end result could cost the state a ton of money.”
A retired state supreme court appellate judge has been appointed to review all 20,000 or more of the alcohol breath test cases.