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How Is The Portable Breath Test Different From The Evidential Breathalyzer?


Some portable test devices are certified and can be used in court. However, most police departments do not want to pay to have a certified portable breath test in every patrol car, especially since they are only used to determine enough probable cause to make an arrest.

Standard portable breath tests are usually fairly accurate, but some are very inaccurate. I once represented a client who was pulled over around eleven o’clock in the morning and submitted to a standardized portable breath test which came back with a result of 1.6. My client told the officer that he had not had anything to drink since the night before, and that there was no way that the PBT was giving an accurate value. The officer took my client to the station, where he registered a value of 0.02 twenty minutes later. Now, it would have been physiologically impossible for alcohol to have left his system to that degree in a matter of twenty minutes.

There are some scenarios in which a person may smell like alcohol but not be intoxicated. For example, non-alcoholic beer smells and looks like actual beer, but it does not contain alcohol. The portable breath tests can help officers identify these rare but possible situations.

The results of a portable breath test cannot be admitted in a hearing about license suspension. The field sobriety tests can be brought up, but the results of the portable test cannot. However, the fact that a person refused to take the portable breath test can be mentioned, which may indicate consciousness of guilt. That would not be a deciding factor, but it would be a factor.

Are There Penalties Associated With Refusal Of A Portable Breath Test?

Your license will not be suspended if you refuse the portable breath test; it will only be suspended if you register a value over the limit on the machine at the station. Some people will refuse the portable breath test while thinking that by the time they reach the station and take the standard test, that their result will be lower. However, that’s usually not a good idea. If you have any doubt, I strongly suggest that you don’t do it. If you do and you’re wrong, then you have put the noose around your neck and kicked out the stool, so to speak.

What Factors Can Impact The Accuracy Of The Portable Breath Test Results?

The accuracy of the portable breath test results can be affected by the machine that is used (certified versus non-certified) and how it is operated. In addition, officers are supposed to wait 20 minutes before giving anybody a test. A clean mouthpiece should be used on the machine with each new person who takes the test, because there could be alcohol residue from the last person who took the test. The bottom-line is that none of the breath tests are admissible in court unless they are fully certified. Since the fully certified machines are so expensive, 99% of police departments only have one at the station.

Additional Information On Portable Breath Test In Illinois

There are factors that contribute to the way a charge is looked at, as well as to the evaluation of an officer’s probable cause for arresting you. Depending on all of the evidence and how the officer conducted the stop, you may have grounds to file a motion to suppress. In addition, it is important to refrain from telling an officer where you have been or whether or not you have had anything to drink. You have a right to remain silent, and you have a right not to incriminate yourself; take advantage of these rights.

For more information on Portable Breath Test In Illinois, a free initial consultation is your best next step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (847) 244-4636 today.

Barry Boches, Esq.

Get your questions answered - call me for your free phone consultation (847) 244-4636.

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