20-Minute Observation Defense for DWI Cases in New Jersey

A DWI conviction can have long-lasting consequences for a person’s life. If you have been charged with a DWI, you need to reach out to a seasoned New Jersey DWI attorney who can help. When a person has been arrested for a DWI, there are certain procedural safeguards that must be obeyed by law enforcement. Unfortunately, these rules are not always followed. We can examine the merits of your case and determine whether any of your rights was violated.

The basic offense of driving while intoxicated (DWI) consists of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Alcohol is not the only basis for a DWI in New Jersey. You can also be arrested or charged with a DWI if you are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs – whether legal, illegal, or prescription.

A possible defense in New Jersey DWI cases is that the police did not watch you for 20 minutes prior to administering the breath test to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Breath tests are not always reliable. In fact, these tests can yield false results due to conditions like acid reflux disease or diabetes, or when a person has belched in the preceding 20 minutes. This is why New Jersey police officers are required to follow certain rules and regulations pertaining to breath tests. One of these rules is that a driver must be observed for 20 minutes to make sure he or she did not vomit, belch, touch lips or tongue, or ingest any liquid or objects.

It is important to note that if there is any break or interruption in the observation of the defendant, the 20-minute observation period must be restarted for the Alcotest reading to be admissible. It is the State’s burden to affirmatively prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that a competent witness continuously observed the defendant for at least 20 minutes, and none of the aforementioned conditions that could compromise the breath test (i.e., belching) took place. Clear and convincing evidence means that that the evidence presented by a party during trial must be highly and substantially more probable to be true than not true. This is quite a high threshold but not as high as the “beyond a reasonable doubt standard.”

The 20-minute observation defense is a very effective defense. If this 20-minute observation period is not properly conducted, the breath test reading will be suppressed from evidence. If the evidence is suppressed, your penalties may be significantly reduced. For instance, first-time DWI offenders facing a 7-to-12-month license suspension would only face a maximum of a 3-month suspension.

DWI penalties can be extremely serious. If you have been arrested or charged with a DWI in New Jersey, you have rights. Our skilled New Jersey DWI attorneys can analyze the facts of your case and build an aggressive defense in your case. For more information regarding your options, do not hesitate to call us today at 877-450-8301 or contact us online.

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