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Preliminary Breath Test vs. Implied Consent Tests in Arizona

Posted by Shawn B. Hamp | Mar 01, 2016 | 0 Comments

DUI Attorney Shawn Hamp Explains Difference Between PBT and Intoxilyzer Tests

If you are arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) a law enforcement officer will request that you submit to several different test to develop probable cause for an arrest and establish evidence for a DUI.

These tests include Preliminary Breath Tests and Implied Consent Chemical Breath Tests.  It is important to understand the differences between these two tests and your legal requirements to take or not take these tests.


Preliminary Breath Test

Intoxilyzer 500 PBT device manufactured by CMI. (Photo CMI).

If you are stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drugs, alcohol, or vapor releasing substance a police officer must establish probable cause before they can arrest that suspect and take them to jail.

To establish probable cause, a police officer will request that a driver submit to field sobriety tests (FSTs).  One of these FSTs utilizes a device called a preliminary breath test or portable breath test (PBT).

Related: 3 Biggest DUI Mistakes Drivers Make During A Traffic Stop

A PBT is taken at the scene of the traffic stop.  This handheld device is used to measure the suspect's breath alcohol content (BAC).

If the BAC is above the legal limit (.08 in Arizona) that is sufficient probable cause for a police officer to arrest the suspect and take them to jail or the police station to conduct further chemical tests.

You are not required under Arizona law to submit to a PBT even though an officer may ask you to submit to these tests.

A PBT device does not store quality assurance records and is not subject to periodic maintenance.

A PBT is not an approved breath testing device for court proceedings in Arizona and therefore the results of a PBT are not admissible at trial or any civil hearing to suspend driving privileges. The results of a PBT may be used to establish probable cause for arrest.

Implied Consent Chemical Breath Test, Intoxilyzer 8000

A chemical test is the second test administered to measure a reliable BAC reading.  The BAC reading will be admissible at a criminal trial, or any civil administrative hearing to suspend a driver's license for being above the legal limit.

There is no legal requirement to submit to a PBT if stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor. However if a suspect who is arrested for DUI refuses to submit to an implied consent chemical test or Intoxilyzer 8000 test, they may loose their privilege to drive for twelve (12) months.

The Intoxilyzer 8000 is an approved breath testing device used by most Arizona law enforcement agencies.

A police officer must administer an “Admin Per Se”warning that refusing to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine will result in suspension of your license.

A suspect MUST be placed under arrest before they are legally required to submit to an implied consent or chemical test.  Therefore an officer MUST have probable cause to make a suspect submit to an implied  consent/chemical tests.

The results of the chemical test are admissible at court or at any administrative hearing to suspend a license for being above the legal limit.  Chemical tests may include a blood draw, or breathalyzer/intoxilyzer tests.

In Arizona, the Intoxilyzer 8000 is an approved breath testing device approved by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.  This instrument measures a subject's breath alcohol content.

A police officer must receive instruction and possess a valid permit to be a licensed operator of an Intoxilyzer 8000 machine.

Periodic maintenance and quality assurance records are required of every Intoxilyzer 8000 to maintain operability and for its results to be admissible in court.

A police officer may request that a subject submit to a blood test, but it is not the subject's choice as to what type of chemical test to submit to.

Mohave County DUI Attorney

Understanding the difference between a preliminary breath test and an implied consent chemical tests is important to determine how it might impact your DUI case.  Depending on the circumstances it may be in your best interest to always refuse to take any preliminary breath tests.

it is important to contact an attorney if you are ever charged with a DUI . An experienced DUI lawyer can advise you of your rights or any possible defenses when facing driving under the influence charges.  A criminal defense attorney can work to help get your charges dismissed or reduced to avoid any harsh criminal sentences.

If you have questions please give our office a call today.

About the Author

Shawn B. Hamp

President and lead counsel for The Hamp Law Offices, LLC (An Arizona Professional Corporation), Shawn Hamp has practiced law for more than 15 years with an emphasis in criminal law. An experienced trial attorney, Mr. Hamp has been lead counsel in hundreds of criminal trials and court...


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