Continuous Observation Before a Breath Test

Posted on October 9, 2014

Before a Breath Test

If you are stopped for suspicion of DUI, California law requires that law enforcement personnel conduct a 15-minute continuous observation before they give you a breath test. If the police failed to adhere to this policy, your San Francisco DUI attorney can question the validity of the test results.

Summary of the Law

The wording in Title 17, Cal. C. of Regs.,§1219.3 includes the phrase “continuous observation for at least fifteen minutes.” During this time, the defendant is not allowed to eat, drink, vomit, regurgitate or smoke in order to ensure the most accurate test results possible. Even so, the application of the law in practical terms has been debated. A legal professional from our San Francisco DUI attorney will specify in court that this means that a defendant must be put under continuous observation for 15 minutes before the test to ensure that the test results are valid.

Specific Precedents of the Law

However, law enforcement personnel might include the time spent transporting a person as part of the observation time. A jury will make the final decision as to if this qualifies as continuous observation. The prosecution will argue that observation by several officers complies with the requirement, according to precedent set by a case in 2003 and that observation need not be visual. A separate 2003 case also determined that the officer who gives the breath test does not need to be the same officer who observes a defendant. Our San Francisco DUI attorney can review additional details with you.

Raising Doubt about an Officer’s Understanding of the Law

At trial, the police officer will probably testify that they do not know why they need to observe the person for 15 minutes before the test. A professional from our San Francisco DUI law firm will review the importance of understanding these reasons in order to conduct the test properly to ensure that test results are valid.

A San Francisco DUI attorney needs to have a thorough grasp of the laws and how those are designed to protect you. At Silveira Law, we will work to negotiate a plea agreement or will fight for a win in court. Call us at (415) 795-3890 for more information.