Skip to main content

In NJ, is it a law to have a 20 minute observation period prior to the breath test? If so, what happens if there was not?

Cherry Hill, NJ |

I was pulled over crossing the Walt Whitman Bridge and charged with DWI & Careless driving. When I got to the station I was put in a small holding cell, and the cop tried to turn on the breathalyzer machine and it didn't work. He had another officer take me to a different station so we could use their machine and after the test I was taken back. I was not observed at any time other than the car ride to and from the stations. For example I ate some candy I had leftover in my pocket, while I was waiting to be taken to the other station for testing. During all this, I asked at least 3 times why was I pulled over in the first place he said,"I don't know you have to ask the other cop, he pulled you over" They also confiscated my house and work keys plus my State ID card but not my license.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 6


A motion to suppress the breath test results may be pursued based on your representations. These are very fact sensitive motions.


Yes, there is a requirement for a 20 minute observation period. It does not have to be by one cop; the time can be split. However, time driving in a car will not count towards the 20 minutes. You should retain a lawyer to challenge this. There are records of dispatch times, arrival times, etc. that can be put together to punch holes in the observation period, as your version of events alone will not create a winning defense.


Agree with my colleagues that it is a fact-sensitive rule and you should hire experienced DWI counsel to litigate a motion to suppress on your behalf.

David Bradley
Bradley Law Firm, LLC


As my colleagues have noted, a suppression motion on those grounds is fact sensitive. Additionally, the police may have a different recollection. Even if the alcotest is suppressed, you will still need to get by the officer's observations during the field sobriety testing. You would be well advised to retain experienced counsel and explore all of your defenses.

Law Offices of James A. Abate (732) 412-2364


There is such a requirement. If the 20 minute observation is not done the results of the 7110 may not be admitted into the case. Your potential penalties decrease to a 3 month suspension on a first offense, it doesn't help on a second or more. The police will sually insist the period was completed but as Mr. Mark says the time in the car with only one cop should not count. You can get the CAD readouts to show when you left and when you arrived at the other station, The 7110 readout shows the time of your first test. You then just have to subtract. Call for more iformation and a free consultation.


You may have a strong defense to this case based on what you say. I would have to review all the evidence before I could give a definite answer, but the penalties for a DWI conviction are so severe that you need to use any possible legal way to try and fight the charge. Please contact my office for a free consultation to discuss your case in more detail and to discuss how I can assist you. Thank you.
Sincerely yours, -Ronald Aronds, Esq.-

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer