What Happens When Refusing A PBT During A Traffic Stop?
A Preliminary Breathe Test (PBT) is utilized during some traffic stops when an officer suspects that the individual operating the motor vehicle in question is operating under the influence of intoxicants. A PBT is supposed to measure the amount of consumed alcohol within an individual’s system. When administered during a traffic stop, a PBT will be used on the side of the road, and thus a PBT is different when compared to the more specialized chemical test breathalyzer, which is generally performed after arrest and at the police station. It is worth noting that refusing a PBT or a chemical test breathalyzer can and will each have their own respective consequences if found responsible or guilty of either refusal.
In order to conceptually understand the difference between the two types of testing, one must understand that a PBT is done prior to arrest, while a secondary test is performed after the arrest. A secondary chemical test requires certain legal and chemical rights be rad prior to its administration. A PBT, on the other hand, is usually done after field sobriety tests (walk and turn, one-leg stand, finger to nose, reciting ABC’s, etc.) and prior to being arrested. It will also generally be performed on the side of the road by a handheld device the officer retrieves from his patrol vehicle. If refusing the PBT a civil infraction can and likely will be issued to the individual who refused. This type of civil infraction is a zero-point, non-abstractable infraction, and thus it is not placed on an individual’s driving record. The repercussions of refusing the secondary chemical test are much more severe and long-lasting. If curious of this repercussions, a more detailed explanation and editorial can be found here.
It should also be noted that generally a PBT cannot be admitted into trial, mainly due to the sensitivity and accuracy of the devise and its results. Multiple issues arise when looking into the accuracy of a PBT’s ability to measure someone’s blood alcohol content. However, the results of a PBT do allow for the underlying arrest for a drunk driving charge, even if not ultimately being used for conviction. The secondary chemical test if the primary device or result used for a drunk driving conviction or matter. Therefore, the PBT generally lead to similar results or at least results in-line with the later corroborating secondary chemical test results. It becomes so imperative for individuals to always obtain defense counsel when faced with issues involving a PBT, chemical test, or traffic matter. The varying ideals can change from case to case and apply in a variety of scenarios, so know the law, maintain your rights, and lawyer-up.
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