Should You Refuse a Portable Breath Test During a DUI Investigation

joliet DUI lawyer

In the unfortunate event that you are stopped by the police and accused of driving under the influence, you should be aware of the types of tests that you may be asked to undergo and understand the consequences of submitting to or refusing these tests.

The three types of tests are field sobriety tests, portable breath tests, and evidentiary breath tests. This post will focus on portable breath tests (PBTs), sometimes called preliminary breath tests or portable breathalyzers. PBTs are conducted at the site of the traffic stop. The police will consider the PBT result along with field sobriety tests and other observations to determine whether or not arrest you for DUI .

Understanding the Portable Breath Test (PBT)

A portable breath test is conducted with a handheld device. These devices are not as accurate as the desktop devices used for the so-called evidentiary tests which occur following an arrest

One important thing to remember is that the police are required to ask for your consent before administering a PBT, and they must give you sufficient time to refuse. An officer’s failure to give you the opportunity to refuse can, by itself, be cause to invalidate an arrest based on that PBT, as decided in a 2016 Illinois court ruling .

Should I Consent to or Refuse to Take a Portable Breath Test?

You are not required to consent to a portable breath test at roadside. There is no civil or criminal penalty for respectfully refusing a PBT. In particular, you should know that your license cannot be suspended if you refuse a PBT.

Furthermore, the results of a PBT cannot be used as evidence against you in criminal prosecution. However, they can be used against you in the civil statutory summary suspension hearing. This hearing decides whether or not you will have a suspended license from the DUI arrest. Obviously, a result of .08 or higher hurts your chances of beating the license suspension.

If you think there is a chance you will pass the test, you may want to consent. Then, if the PBT shows a blood alcohol level below .08, you may avoid an arrest altogether, which is far preferable to going through the process of being arrested.

Remember, though, that PBTs are generally not as reliable as the blood, breath, or urine tests conducted at a police station. The result you receive may not be an accurate result.

If you refuse the PBT, you should know that you can still be arrested for DUI if the arresting officer has other probable cause to suspect you are intoxicated, such as observations of erratic driving or slurred speech. If arrested, you will then be taken to a police station and asked to submit to an evidentiary breath test.

Protect Your Rights with a Skilled Joliet DUI/Traffic Violations Attorney

Regardless of whether you submit to a roadside breath test or not, if you are arrested for DUI, you may still be able to avoid a DUI conviction or reduce the consequences you may be facing. To protect your rights, contact a knowledgeable Will County DUI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.