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To Convict You of Drunk Driving in NJ, They Have to Observe You for 20 Minutes

Drunk driving can be easy to prove for the state if the Breathalyzer shows your blood alcohol content to be .08% or higher (.04% if you were driving a commercial vehicle with a CDL) and they can get that reading into evidence.

The courts rely heavily on the Breathalyzer technology, so they have to be sure that the reading is accurate before using it to find you guilty. Thus there are several hoops that the state has to jump through to validate the reading.

The Observation "Hoop"

One of those hoops is referred to as the "observation period." Before taking breath samples from you, they must observe you for an uninterrupted period of 20 minutes, then immediately take the samples.

This is to insure that the reading is not thrown off by any residual effects of alcohol in the mouth. The state must provide testimony by the observing witness that you did not

  • Swallow anything
  • Regurgitate
  • Use chewing gum or tobacco
  • Put any foreign object into your mouth

If any of this happens, they have to start the observation period all over again.

This Can Make a Big Difference In Your Case!

DWI cases have been compromised in the past by a failure to meet this requirement, so it is very important that the state's evidence be reviewed carefully to be sure that you were not left alone in the room during that time, that the Breathalyzer test was not started before the 20 minutes elapsed, or that evidence like security video at the police station does not show any of the above listed incidents happening during that period of time.

So What Do I Do?

If you have been charged with drunk driving in southern New Jersey, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule a free consultation.

If you have more questions about New Jersey's drunk driving law, then download my free book, How Much Trouble Am I In? A Guide to New Jersey Drunk Driving Law.

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Steven J. Richardson
Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.