During my initial investigation into the facts surrounding a DUI related arrest, I ask a myriad of different questions. Each one of these questions is intended to root out whether law enforcement followed the strict statutory, constitutional, and common law requirements of the law during the investigation and subsequent arrest. One of the very specific questions I always ask is, “did the officer observe you for 15 minutes prior to administering the breathalyzer test at the station.”
The reason for this question is simple. As we have discussed, a breathalyzer uses infrared spectroscopy technology to detect the presence of a “methyl group” in the molecules on a subject’s breath. However, thousands of chemical compounds contain the methyl group in their molecular structure. Studies have documented over 100 of them on the human breath, including acetone (found in diabetics and people on diets) and such products as paint, thinner, glue, gasoline — most of which can be breathed in as vapors or absorbed through the skin (to be breathed out hours later and registered by a breathalyzer as “alcohol”).
Because of the innate inaccuracies imbedded within these machines, any burping or belching will result in an inaccurate reading of the molecules you blow out. This is because these molecules come from deep within your stomach when you belch, and are put much closer to your mouth cavity where they can easily be blown into the machine. This often times results in artificially higher BAC levels. So, if the officers did not follow the mandatory regulations of observing you for 15 minutes prior to administering the preliminary alcohol screening device, you may not have been a good candidate for the test. This may be grounds for suppression of that evidence, which could be a huge push in the right direction for your case.