N.J. Attorney General Announces Potential Relief for Certain DWI Defendants

John Roberts, Esq.
Arseneault & Fassett, LLP

People who were convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses in certain New Jersey counties between 2008 and 2016 may be eligible to have their convictions overturned.  The recent announcement by the Attorney General of New Jersey follows the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court in State v. Cassidy, 235 N.J. 482 (2018).  In Cassidy, the Court found that a New Jersey State Police sergeant had failed to follow protocol for calibrating Alcotest (“breathalyzer”) devices used to measure blood-alcohol levels.  As a result, the Court ruled that the results of breath tests using the affected equipment were not sufficiently reliable to be admitted as evidence.  Therefore, the Court ruled, the affected defendants may be eligible to have their convictions overturned, or receive other post-conviction relief (PCR).

The affected cases originated between 2008 and 2016 in certain municipalities in the counties of Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, and Union.  It is estimated that more than 13,000 convictions, either by guilty plea or by a finding of guilt after a trial, may be eligible.  In January 2019, New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner appointed a Special Master to handle the expected flood of PCR applications.

The State was required to send notice directly to all affected defendants at the address of record.  However, it is possible that not all affected defendants have received notices.  If you received a notice or believe you may meet the criteria for Post-Conviction Relief of your DWI conviction, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the latest developments in the law.