Can a Portable Breath Test Be Used Against You in Court?

Jun 11, 2023

When facing a legal situation related to driving under the influence (DUI), it is crucial to understand the implications of different types of tests that may be administered. One such test is the portable breath test (PBT), which can play a significant role in DUI cases. In this article, John P. Bennett, Attorney at Law, provides insightful information on the legality and admissibility of PBT results in court.

The Purpose of Portable Breath Tests

Portable breath tests are commonly used by law enforcement officers to quickly estimate a person's blood alcohol content (BAC) at the scene of a suspected DUI offense. These handheld devices are designed to provide immediate results, helping officers in their decision-making process during a traffic stop or investigation.

It is essential to understand that a portable breath test is different from the more accurate breathalyzer devices used at police stations or during formal chemical testing. While portable breath tests can provide an initial indication of a person's intoxication level, they should not be considered as wholly accurate or infallible.

Legal Constraints for Portable Breath Test Results

In the United States legal system, the use of portable breath test results as evidence in court varies from state to state. Some states allow such results to be used as evidence, while others do not. The admissibility of PBT results depends on various factors, including state laws, specific case circumstances, and the court's interpretation of these factors.

It is worth noting that portable breath test results are generally considered less reliable than those obtained from more sophisticated breathalyzer devices. This is due to various reasons, including the potential for false positives, calibration issues, and the subjective interpretation of the results by law enforcement officers.

Challenging the Admissibility of Portable Breath Test Results

In a DUI case, it is important for a skilled attorney to evaluate the admissibility of portable breath test results. There are several legal strategies that can be employed to challenge the reliability and validity of such results:

  • Calibration and Maintenance: Attorneys may question the calibration and maintenance records of the portable breath test device used during the incident. Any irregularities or lack of proper maintenance can cast doubt on the accuracy of the results.
  • Officer Training and Certification: Law enforcement officers must be adequately trained and certified to administer portable breath tests. Attorneys can investigate whether the officer involved in the case had the necessary training and adhered to proper testing protocols.
  • Environmental Factors: Environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, or interference from nearby substances, can affect the accuracy of portable breath test results. Attorneys can explore whether these factors may have influenced the obtained BAC reading.
  • Individual Factors: Attorneys may argue that an individual's specific physiological or medical conditions could have impacted the accuracy of the portable breath test results. Factors such as acid reflux, diabetes, or certain medications can potentially lead to false high readings.

Alternative Defense Strategies

In addition to challenging the admissibility of portable breath test results, experienced DUI defense attorneys can employ alternative defense strategies to protect their clients' rights. These may include:

  • Field Sobriety Tests: Attorneys can question the validity and reliability of field sobriety tests conducted by law enforcement officers. These tests, often performed before the administration of a portable breath test, can be subjected to human error or inadequate administration, casting doubts on their accuracy.
  • Witness Testimonies: Attorneys may seek witnesses who can provide testimony in support of the defendant's sobriety or question the credibility of the arresting officer. Witness testimonies can provide valuable insights into the events leading up to the arrest and challenge the prosecution's narrative.
  • Unlawful Stop or Arrest: Attorneys can investigate whether the traffic stop or arrest was conducted in accordance with legal procedures. If any constitutional or procedural violations occurred, it can significantly impact the admissibility of evidence, including portable breath test results.

Consult with John P. Bennett, Attorney at Law for Expert Advice

Understanding the legality and admissibility of portable breath test results in court requires comprehensive knowledge of the law and experienced legal counsel. John P. Bennett, Attorney at Law, specializes in DUI defense, providing personalized guidance tailored to each client's unique situation. With a track record of successful outcomes, Mr. Bennett uses his expertise to challenge and protect his clients' rights. Contact John P. Bennett, Attorney at Law, today to schedule a consultation and discuss your DUI case.

Dina Touchon
👀 Interesting read!
Oct 13, 2023