Criminal Defense in Orange County

DUI: The 15-Minute Observation Period

Whenever a law enforcement officer chooses to take shortcuts when administering breath tests, this can prove to be quite harmful for the prosecution's case at trial. California law requires that breath samples be collected only after a person has been watched continuously for at least 15 minutes prior to the collection of the breath sample, during which time the person must not have ingested any additional alcohol or other beverages, vomited, eaten anything, or smoked.

However, the meaning of the requirement that the subject be continuously observed for at least 15 minutes is not completely clear. Nonetheless, an expert for the defense will testify at trial that for a DUI, continuous observation means just that—the person must be watched continuously for 15 minutes prior to being given the test in order to prevent mouth and stomach alcohol from tainting the results. Keep in mind, though, that police officers typically include the time that is spent on route to the police station or jail, where the breathalyzer is located, as part of the observation period.

Thus, it will be up to the jury to determine whether or not this type of conduct meets the requirements of California's law. Accordingly, it will be useful for your Orange County DUI attorney, as part of the cross-examination of the officer, to ask him or her whether or not he or she is aware of why a defendant must be watched for 15 minutes prior to administering a breath test . The law enforcement officer must be fully aware of the reasons why a 15-minute continuous observation period is a crucial part of having a valid test before his or her understanding of the meaning of the requirement will have any credibility.

DUI cases can quite often be very difficult to negotiate favorable plea bargains for or in at trial; however, having a seasoned and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Orange County may make a huge difference in whether or not you end up with a favorable decision. Please call The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs for a free consultation.