The Preliminary Breath Test or Portable Breath Test (PBT) is a handheld device that tests your breath alcohol content (BAC) at the roadside. Under Washington State law the PBT results aren’t accurate enough to be used against you in a DUI trial. However, they can be used against you in court to justify an officer’s decision to arrest you for DUI. Both the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s) and the PBT are voluntary and most folks will be better off politely refusing to do them.
Law enforcement officers often use a PBT as the final roadside DUI test. Before they ask if you’ll do any roadside test, the officer has probably already observed one or more driving violations, smelled alcohol on your breath and seen abnormal motor skills, like trouble removing your driver’s license from your wallet or finding your vehicle registration. By the time an officer asks you to blow on a PBT they most likely have observed enough to justify arresting you for DUI. This is why most folks are better off politely refusing all roadside tests, including the PBT.
There is one time our advice might be different. You should always politely refuse the three physical roadside tests or SFST’s. If, however, you have had only one alcoholic drink or no alcohol to drink at all, then you should consider blowing on the PBT at the roadside. A PBT result showing minimal or no alcohol helps prove you aren’t impaired by the amount of alcohol on your breath and might convince the officer not to arrest you for DUI.
DUI investigations are complex and we generally recommend folks politely refuse all roadside tests. There are different rules that apply to the evidentiary BAC test at the police station, which is why you have the right to speak with an attorney during the DUI investigation to get the proper advice for your situation. Call Cooney Law Offices today. We can help!