The Longest 20 Minutes of Your LifeOne of the commonly used tools for ascertaining whether you’ve engaged in drunk driving is the Breathalyzer test. A Breathalyzer test measures your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). What many drivers don’t understand, however, is that the law actually employs two different Breathalyzer tests.

The Portable Test vs. the Station Test

The roadside test that most people think of when they imagine a Breathalyzer test is often referred to as a portable breath test (PBT), and it’s usually comprised of a small handheld apparatus that looks like an inhaler that you blow into. The PBT, which is not admissible as evidence in court, does not have the accuracy of the station test, and is therefore only used for ascertaining a BAC estimate, which can then be used to establish probable cause for employing an official Breathalyzer test back at the station. The test used at the station is far more accurate and is conducted on an Alcotest 7110 machine, but there’s a catch called the 20-Minute Observation Period.

20-Minute Observation Period

Once you’re at the station, the police cannot immediately administer the official Alcotest 7110 Breathalyzer test. There is a mandatory waiting period of at least 20 minutes before the police can collect your breath sample. This is in an effort to mitigate the effects of overestimation in the reading, which can be caused by the residual effects of lingering alcohol in the mouth. The Alcotest 7110 is actually programmed not to allow its own operation until 20 minutes after the time of arrest as entered.

It is during this 20-minute waiting period that you, as the suspect, must be observed without interruption in order to ensure that no alcohol enters your mouth while you are waiting for the Alcotest 7110 procedure. In fact, the waiting period must start over again at zero if you swallow anything – or even chew gum. If you have any foreign object in your mouth during the observation period, the 20-minute clock must restart.

The Rules of Observation

There are several requirements for making the observation period legally valid. If you are suspected of driving under the influence, you must be observed without interruption for a full 20 minutes before the Alcotest is administered. Simply being in police custody does not fulfill this requirement. For the test to be implemented properly, you must be watched by the actual operator of the Alcotest machine in order to ensure that your breath sample is not contaminated. Failure to follow these strict requirements can lead to inadmissible test results.

BAC evidence is complicated; if you or someone you care about has been charged with DUI/DWI, help is available.

If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI in New Jersey, call 732-238-8686 today for more information

If you or your loved one is facing a drunk driving charge, David C. Barry, Attorney at Law, can help. Attorney David C. Barry knows that the stakes involved are too high to leave to chance, and he strongly recommends that you retain an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer who will fight for you and your rights. David will help you preserve your rights, analyze your case, evaluate the State’s discovery, make motions as appropriate, and – when warranted – try your case. If you need legal guidance and would like to discuss your case, call David today at 732-238-8686.