You are NOT Required to provide a PBT sample by your car during a DUI stop.
The Breathalyzer is a diagnostic test that measures your blood alcohol content (BAC) by taking a sample of air. All you have to do is blow into the device, and it will return a reading. Breathalyzer is the brand name, but it’s what we commonly call any device that measures alcohol levels in this way.
Your breath won’t provide as accurate of a reading as other fluids in your body like blood, so a roadside breathalyzer is not the most foolproof way of measuring your BAC. The PBT is not commonly attacked in defense cases that make it to trial, despite the actual numerical reading not being admissible as evidence at trial. It is, however, admissible in that it can give a police officer probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving.
Taking the PBT
You do not have to submit to a roadside breathalyzer test. If the officer suspects a DUI and asks you to blow into his handheld device, you can say No without legal recourse. However, if you do refuse, the officer is likely to place you under arrest. Then again, if he is offering you a PBT, he is already likely to arrest you. So why give him evidence to use against you at trial?
It’s important not to confuse the PBT with the breath machine at your local police station. If you’ve already been arrested and the officer requests a chemical test at the police station, you cannot say no. He can ask for either breath, blood, and refusing will likely lead to the suspension of your license for 12 months.
If you refuse a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer, you may get arrested anyway. However, without the probable cause that comes from a field sobriety test or breathalyzer, the officer will have to work harder to find probable cause, and you’ll have an easier time attacking it if he does.
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