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15-Minute Observation Period for Breath Test

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Feb 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

You may believe that if you test above 0.08 percent on a Breathalyzer test that you likely face a DUI conviction. However, this belief would be wrong. Breathalyzer tests are far from accurate and with the help of a King County DUI attorney you may be able to successfully fight a charge based on a breath test result.

One common defense to a breath test result is that the arresting officer did not comply with the 15-minute observation period prior to applying the test.

Generally, officers are required to check your mouth for any foreign objects and then observe you for at least 15 minutes before applying the breath test. The rationale is that objects in your mouth like food, candy, and breath mints can impact the blood alcohol test. Additionally, even if your mouth is clean, officers will need to observe you to ensure that you do not belch or burb as such actions could also impact the breath test result. For example, a burb may release particles in your mouth that impact the breath test.

How Officers May Violate the 15-Minute Observation Period

Many police officers violate the 15-minute observation period. During this period, the officer must actively watch the suspect ensuring that the suspect does not burb or otherwise compromise the test. However, officers frequently perform other tasks during this time including filling out police reports or driving the suspect to the police station. If the officer is not observing the suspect at all times prior to the test, the results may be unreliable.

Contact a King County DUI Attorney

The penalties for a DUI can be very severe. To learn about possible defenses and options, you will want to talk to an experienced attorney. You should know that the results of breath tests are not infallible, and an attorney at Wolff Criminal Defense can help you review the facts of your case.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


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