A “PBT test”, or preliminary breath test, is a device that allows an officer to test a person’s blood alcohol concentration without transporting them for a formal breath or blood test. These PBT’s are typically utilized by officers in DUI, drunk driving and underage drinking cases. While commonly used and accepted in practice, on scene by law enforcement officers, the results from these PBT devices have been found to be inadmissible in Court. There are certain limited times when they will be admissible – when specific requirements are met. (Which is not common) Also, they are permitted for certain pre-arrest investigative purposes.
In 2009 the Court in Commonwealth v. Brigidi made clear that the results of PBT tests may be admissible in certain cases (underage drinking matters). This was only if the results were obtained by a device that was approved and listed in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Further, there was the added requirement of the device being calibrated and correctly checked for accuracy.
In the real world application, PBT tests are typically used for two major things. First, in underage drinking prosecutions, in order to determine if the person underage was consuming an alcoholic beverage. Second, in DUI and drunk driving cases when the officer administers a PBT at the scene of the vehicle stop in order to develop probable cause that the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol. This would then be a factor in determining if the individual should be arrested and transported for a formal breath or blood test.
If you have been charged with DUI, drunk driving or underage drinking and a PBT was administered by the officers conducting the investigation, it is important to have a skilled criminal defense attorney examine the evidence and represent you in Court in order to protect against inadmissible evidence being used against you.
In West Chester and the Chester County area, law enforcement officers utilize PBT tests regularly. A skilled and knowledgeable Chester County DUI and criminal defense attorney should be contacted if you or a loved one is in this position.
The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. Please contact DiCindio Law for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case.
Mike DiCindio is a criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale as well as in Montgomery County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Philadelphia County, Bucks County and Berks County.