DUI charges that involve a breathalyzer result over the legal limit often seem difficult, if not impossible, to beat. However, an experienced DUI defense attorney will know that there are certain things to look for that could possible lead to the suppression of the test. If the breathalyzer is suppressed, it is often much more difficult for the State to go forward with their charges.
One possible defense is that the “20 minute observation period” was not properly followed. What is the 20 Minute Observation Period? In a Florida DUI case, when a person is requested to provide a breath sample using the breath machine called the Intoxilyzer 8000, there are certain rules that the police officers must follow in order for the breath sample to be valid. One of the requirements is what is known as a 20 Minute Observation Period. For a period of 20 minutes, the breath test operator must continuously observe the person giving the breath sample. This observation period is mandated by Rule 11B-8.007(3) of the Florida Administrative Code in order to ensure that person giving the breath sample has not taken anything by mouth, has not regurgitated for at least 20 minutes before administering a breath test, and to allow for any alcohol remaining in the mouth to disappear. Without waiting for 20 minutes, the breath test may be invalid due to alcohol in the mouth, instead of the breath, showing up on the test.
There was recently a case in Florida where the breath test operator only observed the defendant for 17 minutes instead of the full 20 minutes. The defense filed a motion to suppress the results, arguing that 17 minutes was not sufficient to be in strict compliance with the requirements – and the trial court agreed.
There have been many cases similar to that – including one where the Defendant was observed for 18 minutes and 23 seconds – where the court threw out the results.
A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will know how to read the breath results and what to look for to see whether the test was in compliance or not. A test that was not administered in accordance with the rules may be deemed inadmissible.
Anyone who is facing DUI charges in Florida, including Palm Beach County, should contact a criminal defense attorney experienced in Driving Under the Influence charges to review the case for any possible defenses.
Casey Reiter is an associate attorney at Stuart R. Manoff & Associates, P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida, practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and Marital Law.