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How Important Is The Observation Period For A Breathalyzer Test?

The observation test, in California is under Title 17, it requires an officer to observe anyone for fifteen minutes before they can administer a chemical test, this is important. In other states, it is even longer. Title 17 means a couple of things. One is they want them to do two tests to make sure that one test is a lot less accurate, and cannot be checked against another test, if there is only one test. Nevertheless, this observation helps us to make sure the person did not drink anything, eaten, smoked, burped, or throwing up, because those kinds of things can give us a false positive on a breath test. Remember, the gastric reflux, all of that is gases and liquids from the stomach where the alcohol was stored.

All it takes is a few little bits of that to affect a chemical test, or an affect a breath test. It is very important the officers administer this test properly, but unfortunately, the officers get away with merely observing for those fifteen minutes. They are not sitting there looking directly at someone, and making sure they are not regurgitating or having a major coughing fit where potentially things can come up from the stomach and get caught in the mouth and affect the test. Even mouthwash can affect this testing.

This allows any alcohol in the mouth to potentially dissipate, and yet it is still not a failsafe because you can have certain food substances that can affect some of these testing machines. There can be alcohol in many different things that are stuck in your teeth, especially people that have gaps, poor gums, and issues with their gums, teeth, or problems with their throat. The observation period is a way for an officer to make sure that these types of things are not happening.

Now, it is not perfect. Even a fifteen-minute observation is not going to necessarily help an officer see if someone has GERD, because with GERD there can be deteriorations in the throat, and in the upper, lower centers of the throat. Those gases can affect when blowing into the machines. This will very often result showing a much higher blood alcohol level reading as well. This can put someone at or over the limit, which may falsely have them convicted. That is troublesome.

Someone who has acid reflux should talk to their attorney, and definitely hire an experienced attorney who mainly works on DUI defenses. These are defenses where we need to subpoena records, and we need to bring in your doctor who diagnosed your reflux. I hope that it was diagnosed before your DUI case, and then we need to bring in an expert on reflux, and a forensic toxicologist. We need to list three experts in these cases in order to properly defend and win, and they get very expensive. Someone who calls an attorney and they say, “Yes, I know the reflux issue”, and how to fight it. If they are not properly equipped to do it, or have not dealt with it before, they are not going to be able to do it effectively.

Find someone who knows what they are doing, and who is experienced in this field.

Can A Lot Of Errors Occur In A Breathalyzer test?

Many things can go wrong with these tests. Yes, there is the margin of error. This is not black and white this is not completely accurate science by any means. There are so many different variables here, and this is why you need an experienced DUI lawyer to help you with these cases.

For more information on Observation Period For Breathalyzer Test, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 523-7878 today.

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Aaron Bortel
With 30 years of specialized experience in DUI defense, Attorney Aaron Bortel is a dedicated advocate for those facing DUI charges in the Bay Area. Committed to helping clients avoid jail, save their driver’s licenses and jobs, and prevent permanent criminal records, he combines deep legal expertise with genuine care for his client's welfare. Trust in a lawyer who not only defends but truly supports you through challenging times.

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