New Jersey drivers arrested on suspicion of DWI are required to submit a breath sample. New Jersey currently uses a breath testing machine called the Alcotest.
The Alcotest was approved by the New Jersey Supreme Court in the 2008 case of State v. Chun. The Court set forth certain requirements in order for the breath test reading to be admissible. One such requirement is the 20 minute observation period.
Officers must personally observe a driver for 20 continuous minutes prior to the start of the breath testing process. This is because if an individual burbs, belches, vomits or regurgitates, it can bring food particles into the mouth cavity and, because those food particles contain alcohol, it may influence the breath test result. To avoid this risk officers must watch the driver for 20 minutes immediately prior to the test.
If the 20 minute observation period is not properly conducted the breath test reading will be suppressed from evidence. This is very significant, as it automatically and substantially reduces potential penalties. For example, first offenders facing a 7-12 month suspension would only face a maximum of a 3 month suspension.
A trained NJ DWI defense attorney has many tools at his or her disposal to challenge the breath test reading based on a 20 minute issue. This includes closely inspecting evidence, including video, police reports and breath testing documents, all of which reference time. In fact, sometimes these issues can be decided based on a matter of minutes, and sometimes just mere seconds. Unless the State can conclusively prove that the officer conducted the 20 minute observation, the breath test result is out
Our law firm handles only DWI and criminal cases. We have extensive experiences challenging breath test readings and have had many breath test results suppressed based on a 20 minute defense.
If you are facing DWI or DUI charges in New Jersey, it is critical that you have an experienced DWI attorney by your side.
Please contact our office with additional questions about the 20 minute observation period or any other issue. Consultations are always free and always confidential.
Call: 732-747-1844 | Text: 732-567-2441