In Michigan, breath alcohol tests must be done in accordance with the procedures established by Michigan’s administrative rules. The rules are important, since an improperly administered DUI 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 DUI breath test.

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DUI breath test

The 15-Minute Observation Period

An officer can only collect a breath sample after they’ve 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 DUI 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.

What Happens If You Violate the Rules for the 15-Minute Observation Period?

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.

The Takeaway

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 DUI breath alcohol test result.

Facing DUI charges? Unhappy with your current attorney? Request a free consultation now.