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What is the 20-Minute Observation Period?

Under state law, cops have to observe you in a room for 20 minutes, by yourself, before you take any kind of alcohol testing. This is mandatory and not something that can be skipped. If an overzealous officer cuts this test short or does not offer one, then the results of any test could be thrown out. A Bergen County DWI attorney from our firm will do everything that they can to make sure that proper procedures were followed and that your rights are protected. If you get arrested for a crime and the officers ignore rules like the 20-minute observation period, we can fight to dismiss the charges against you completely.

Why Do You Need a 20-Minute Observation Period?

If you are pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving, the 20-minute observation period is observed to ensure that the cops can actually get an accurate reading of your blood alcohol content, or BAC. Many things can actually interfere with getting a reliable breathalyzer test, so the officer has to watch you and make sure that you do not do any of those things. Behaviors that could mess with your results include:

  • Throwing up
  • Chewing gum
  • Burping
  • Smoking a cigarette
  • Eating anything

So if an officer allows a suspect to do any of these things without resetting the 20-minute observation period, they are risking an unreliable BAC reading.

What Happens if the 20-Minute Observation Period Rule is Not Followed?

When an officer does not go along with the 20-minute observation rule, the BAC reading can be challenged in court and thrown out. This is a big deal in most DWI cases. Usually, the most damning evidence that the prosecution has is the results of a sobriety test. If that test was performed incorrectly and the proper rules were not followed, having that BAC result thrown out can essentially make it pointless for the state to continue with the case.

Another thing to note about the 20-minute observation rule is that the suspect must be under strict observation at all times. So if the officer leaves the room or otherwise loses sight of the DWI suspect, then that 20-minute period needs to be reset. Ignoring these rules results in a potentially bad test that cannot be used as evidence.

Do I Need a DWI Lawyer?

It can be tough to make this argument and get BAC results thrown out on your own. Our attorneys have experience fighting charges like these and making sure that everything was done by the book. If there is anything wrong with how the police and state went after you for this crime, we will do our best to get charges against you thrown out.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you are facing DWI charges and believe that the state has violated your rights, we are ready to fight for you. Contact the Law Office of Attorney Conway and schedule a consultation to learn more about what we can do to assist you.

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