What Are Portable Breath Test Devices?

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Portable Breath Test (PBT) devices are typically just preliminary alcohol screening test devices that are supposed to determine whether alcohol is present.  Many law enforcement agencies employ PBT devices, and utilize them when determining whether to make an arrest for DUI.  In Ohio, PBT devices are not admissible in court for any purpose, not even for determining whether an officer had probable cause to make an arrest.

PBT devices do not have the safeguards that so-called evidential breath test machines are supposed to have.  For example, PBTs do not have safeguards against mouth alcohol.  The presence of mouth alcohol will make the result higher, even if the mouth alcohol is only from a mouth wash and not an alcoholic beverage.  Nor are PBTs typically checked by a quality assurance specialist, and maintenance and repair logs are rarely kept.  Evidential breath test machines are supposed to have built-in safeguards against mouth alcohol, and there are strict administrative regulations, by the Ohio Department of Health, that must be followed for the results of an evidential breath test machine to be admissible in court.

If PBT test results are not admissible, why do officers continue to use them in Ohio?  One possible answer is that it increases the level of helplessness that drivers often feel when confronted by an officer on the side of the road, and subsequently when they’re arrested for DUI.  It is often more likely that a person will admit to being impaired, or to having consumed alcohol, after blowing into a PBT.  The feeling of helplessness then persists after the person is arrested and given the choice of taking an evidential breath test or facing an Administrative License Suspension.

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Columbus after submitting to a PBT, contact a our team of knowledgeable DUI lawyers in Columbus at (614) 547-5757.