New York Driving Intoxicated Suppress Breathalyzer Lawyers Attorneys

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New York Driving Intoxicated Suppress Breathalyzer Lawyers Attorneys


Atchuthan Sriskandarajah

The People of the State of New York, Respondent, v. John Austin, Appellant

Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Department


Breathalyzer test results taken from defendant were admitted into evidence under the common-law business records and public documents exceptions to the hearsay rule, even though the trial court found that the documents were not admissible under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 4518 or 4520. Defendant appealed a judgment by the Monroe County Court (New York), which convicted him of driving while intoxicated and speeding, and argued that his motion to suppress breathalyzer test results should have been granted.



The issue here is whether Breathalyzer results are admissible in evidence.


The court held that it was error to admit the test results on these grounds. The court held that in order for a breathalyzer test to be admitted, evidence had to be introduced on whether the breathalyzer was in proper working condition when the test was given to defendant and that the chemicals used in the test were of the proper kind and in the proper proportion. The court held that this foundational requirement had to be met by documentary proof. In this case, the court found that the state had failed to provide the appropriate documentation. For example, the court noted that there was a lapse of 11 to 7 months between the date of defendant’s test and the certification of the

breathalyzer documents

. The court held that because the documents lacked appropriate authentication, it was error to admit them. Thus, the court held that defendant’s conviction for driving while intoxicated had to be reversed. Since the results of the breathalyzer test were impermissibly received in evidence against defendant, his conviction for violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law 1192 (2) must be reversed. Moreover, it is not possible on this record to find that the breathalyzer test results did not also infect defendant’s conviction for violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law 1192 (3), and it also must be reversed. No issue is raised on appeal as to the validity of defendant’s conviction for speeding, and it should be affirmed.


The court reversed defendant’s conviction on driving while intoxicated, but affirmed his conviction on speeding. Defendant’s breathalyzer test results should not have been admitted at trial under the business records or public documents exception to the hearsay rule because the state did not provide proper foundation and authentication of the documents.


These summaries are provided by the

SRIS Law Group

. They represent the firm s unofficial views of the Justices opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content

Atchuthan Sriskandarajah is a Virginia lawyer and owner of the SRIS Law Group. The SRIS Law Group has offices in Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts,

New York

, North Carolina & California. The firm handles criminal/traffic defense, family law, immigration & bankruptcy cases.

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