DUI OWI Breathalyzer Test: The Cops Must Follow The Rules Or Else

In Michigan, breath alcohol tests must be done in accordance with the procedures established by Michigan’s administrative rules.   The rules are important because an improperly administered breath test can have a devastating impact on your DUI OWI case.  In Michigan, officers in every City are required to follow specific rules on how and when to properly give a breath test.

One of the most important rules is the 15-minute observation period. 

An officer can only collect a breath sample after he or she has continuously observed you for 15 minutes.  Why is this rule so important?  Because a Breathalyzer test uses infrared spectroscopy technology to detect the presence of a methyl group in the molecules on your breath.  It sounds technical because it is.  What this means is that even the smallest trace of alcohol can be detected with a breath test.

For example, one small burp can transport trace amounts of alcohol from your stomach to your mouth, which is enough to cause a false reading on your breathalyzer test.  There are other behaviors that the officer should be watching for as well, such as: smoking, vomiting, eating, using mouthwash, or placing anything in or near your mouth.   Doing any of these things 15 minutes prior to taking the breath test can cause an artificially higher BAC level.   In fact, rinsing your mouth with mouthwash is one of the worst things you could do before taking a breath test because some brands contain up to 27% alcohol!

According to the administrative rules, if any of the above happens, the officer is required to wait and observe you for another 15 minutes before giving the test again.

Despite this requirement and the consequences of failing to follow it, some officers will still do paperwork, leave the room, or start the 15 minutes while driving to the police station after a drunk driving alcohol arrest.   Catching an officer doing this may be grounds for suppression of the Breathalyzer test, which could mean dismissal of your driving while intoxicated case.

A good drunk driving attorney must know the rules and know how to find out if they have been broken. Other rules include weekly simulations, four month calibrations and proper police officer training and certifications.

This is why strictly following the 15 minute observation period is absolutely essential for an accurate breath alcohol test result.  If you have been charged with a drinking and driving offense and took a breath test at a police station in the Oakland, Wayne, or Macomb county communities of Royal Oak, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, Warren, Troy, Sterling Heights or any surrounding area and want the best OWI DUI attorneys, call the Law Office of Barton Morris today.