FREEHOLD, NJ — Persons convicted of driving while intoxicated in Monmouth County between 2008 and 2016— whose breath tests may have been mishandled — are being informed that they can take steps to find out whether their cases can be dismissed.
In a December 20 letter, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office is notifying persons by mail that they can seek “appropriate relief” from the convictions, based on a recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision to throw out the breath tests of more than 20,000 DWI cases in five counties, including Monmouth, Middlesex, Ocean, Somerset and Union during that eight-year period. The letter can also be found on its Facebook page.
The state’s highest court ruled on November 13 that all blood alcohol content (BAC) results reported by Alcotest machines “calibrated” by former New Jersey State Police Sgt. Marc Dennis from 2008 to 2016 are not scientifically reliable and inadmissible as evidence in prosecutions of DWI cases.
The decision was based on a case by Eileen Cassidy who was convicted of DWI in Spring Lake to have her guilty plea withdrawn after the disclosure of Dennis’ mishandling of the test results. Although she died in March, the state justices ruled on the case because of the "significant public importance" of the issue, according to the prosecutor’s office.
To view the Cassidy decision, click here.
In his letter to defendants found guilty of DWI and related drunk-driving charges in municipal court between 2008 and 2016, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni informed them they may be entitled to post-conviction relief by taking what the court calls “appropriate action,” stressing that the relief is not automatic.
The procedure to file a petition under New Jersey Court Rule 7:10-2 is available by clicking here.
The prosecutor’s office points out that it is not authorized to provide any additional advice on obtaining relief. It suggests that affected individuals contact a private attorney or the municipal public defender in the town of the DWI conviction.
In 2016, Sgt. Dennis was charged with falsifying records when he failed to reveal that he did not perform a legally required temperature check while calibrating Alcotest devices, which are used by police to determine the blood-alcohol levels of individuals suspected of drunken driving.
Dennis, whose case is still pending, denies any wrongdoing.
The Monmouth prosecutor’s office also offers these resources to determine a person’s eligibility for relief based on the ruling:
- New Jersey Office of the Attorney General
- New Jersey Courts Self-Help Resource Center
- Monmouth Bar Association