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STATE v. HENDRICKS — NEW JERSEY MURDER TRIAL — "NOT GUILTY" VERDICT

Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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Breath test results differ in senator’s DWI arrest

Under New Jersey law, as Cape May readers may be aware, a drunk driving charge depends in large part upon a person’s blood alcohol level at the time of operating a motor vehicle. Police typically take breath test results at the scene of an arrest and again after transporting an arrested person to the police station. People commonly refer to the machine used to test blood alcohol levels as a breathalyzer, but New Jersey now uses a machine known as the Alcotest device.

While most people know that an Alcotest result higher than .08 percent can form the basis for a charge of driving while intoxicated, many people are not aware that a number of different factors can influence breath test results. The recent DWI arrest of U.S. Sen. Michael Crapo provides an illustration of how different circumstances may affect breath test results.

The senator was arrested on Dec. 23 and charged with drunk driving after he was pulled over for running a red light. A breath test administered at the scene registered a blood alcohol level of .11 percent. A second test administered at the police station nearly two hours later registered a blood alcohol level of .14 percent.

The senator does not plan to contest the DWI charge, but if he did, that difference in test results could be very important. Blood alcohol levels can affect the severity of penalties associated with a DWI conviction and discrepancies in test results may provide a defense against DWI charges.

Using breath testing devices to measure blood alcohol levels is not a perfect science. Test results can vary as levels change over time and they can be skewed by factors such as certain medical conditions and even the use of dentures. An experienced DWI defense attorney understands the factors that can make a breath test unreliable and can put those flaws to work on behalf of the client.

Source: New Jersey Herald, “APNewsBreak: Sen. Crapo won’t fight DUI charge,” Josh Lederman and John Miller, Dec. 28, 2012

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