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Preliminary Breath Tests 101

 Posted on April 14, 2020 in DUI

Tucson DUI Defense AttorneysIt may seem like there’s no hope for your DUI case:  the police officers have a breath test result and its over the legal limit.  However, the reality of both preliminary breath test devices and other breathalyzers is that they are often inaccurate, improperly calibrated, and, in certain circumstances,  cannot be used in Court against you. This Q&A gives a quick guide on preliminary breath tests, where officers will obtain a single breath sample using a handheld breath testing device.

What is a PBT Test? In Arizona, officers can capture a sample of your breath for measurement using a handheld device, commonly called a preliminary or portable breath testing device.  During the DUI investigation, officers may ask you to blow into the PBT. The device analyzes your breath for alcohol and returns an estimating number of that person’s blood-alcohol content (BAC).

When can officers ask me to submit to a PBT test? Only when officers have reason to believe that you are driving under the influence can they ask you to take a PBT test. Both the 4th Amendment and the case of Verberg v. Jones states that officers can administer the PBT test only if they have reasonable suspicion that the driver is DUI. 121 P.3d 1283, 211 Ari. 413 (App., Div. 1, 2005). In other words, an officer needs an articulable basis that you are driving impaired to request a breath test.

Am I required to submit to a PBT test? No, you are not required to submit to a PBT test under any circumstances and your refusal cannot be used against you.

Are my PBT results admissible in court? No, your results from a PBT test are not admissible in court. An officer will never get to tell a jury that your PBT test result was over .08. PBT results cannot be used as evidence to prove that you were impaired to the slightest degree, nor can it be used to prove a prohibited alcohol concentration.

Police officers and prosecutors will try and get these results admitted in court, and it takes an experienced and skilled DUI defense lawyer to keep them out.  If you or someone you love is arrested for DUI, contact The Behan Law Group at 520-220-5047.  The lawyers you deserve at the price you can afford.

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