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Police and Law Enforcement Home  >  Police News  >  Court Says Defense Attorneys Don't Have Right to Inspect DWI Rooms

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Court Says Defense Attorneys Don't Have Right to Inspect DWI Rooms
Police and Law Enforcement News
Wednesday, October 24, 2012  10:31 a.m.


An interesting case came out of the appellate division Tuesday.

A three-judge panel held that defense attorneys are not entitled to - as part of their defense - inspect the rooms where breath tests are administered. 

The decision actually arose from two cases. 

In New Jersey vs. Michael Carrero, the defense wanted to inspect the room where the breath tests were administered to insure that setup was compliant with the rules regarding electronic equipment being in close proximity to the breath machine.

In New Jersey vs. Baluski, the defense attorney sought to examine the room to make sure that the trooper "continuously observed [the defendant] for twenty minutes before the Alcotest was administered."

The law division agreed with the attorneys in both cases and ruled that the rooms could be inspected and photographed.

The appellate court, however, reversed.  In rendering their decision they consolidated both cases as the issue in each was similar.

The court cited the security concerns of routinely allowing civilians access to secured areas of police departments and holding facilities.

But, they did leave room for such inspections under certain circumstances. 

The court stated:

Consistent with these distinctive principles of relevancy applicable in the DWI context, each defendant before us must demonstrate that the stationhouse inspection that he seeks is reasonable and relevant to a material issue to his prosecution.  For the reasons that follow, we conclude that neither defendant has met that burden, and that the Law Division judge erred in granting their respective discovery requests. We address each case individually.

They went on to discuss how the argument in each case failed to meet the threshold set forth above.

To view the cases in their entirety, use the links below:

New Jersey vs. Carrero  (PDF File)

New Jersey vs. Baluski  (PDF File)

It was not immediately apparent as to whether either of the cases would be pursued to the state supreme court.



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