What is the PBT Good For?

Recently it seems that some people are confused about what a ‘portable breath test’ (“PBT”) given on the scene of a DUI traffic stop is used for. It appears that some folks think that a PBT can be used against them to prove that they are actually driving under the influence, and that if they refuse/ decline to provide a breath sample into the PBT the consequences that they face if convicted of DUI will be ‘enhanced’ or otherwise increased based on the DUI laws in Washington State.

So … to dispel any notion that a PBT can be used to prove a person is driving under the influence we provide the following: A PBT is not admissible in the prosecutor’s case and it generally will not be presented to a jury; the breath test results that are presented to a jury, and the ones that are considered to determine if someone is driving under the influence, are the results obtained from the breath test machine located at the precinct, not on the scene of the traffic stop. The PBT is generally only used to establish probable cause to arrest, and even to be used for that purpose – the officer or trooper must correctly follow the Washington Administrative Code (WAC 448.15) protocols. Generally, these results will only be used during motions to suppress evidence and not during a jury trial.  This is so because to do so would violate evidentiary rules of relevance and/or prejudice, such as ER 401, and 402. So … it is often a good idea to refuse to provide a breath sample into a PBT, even though it may be a good idea to provide breath samples into the breath test machine at the station due to potential increased penalties for refusing the same.

If cited for DUI in Washington state be smart and immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and trained Seattle DUI attorney will sift through the myriad and numerous defenses in a Washington DUI case. So if facing a DUI, do not go it alone, and do not just hire some ‘general’ practitioner. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

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