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What Are Breath Testing Devices?

People may be confused between breath tests and breathalyzers. What are the small, roadside devices used, when a person is pulled over, to test breath?

It is commonly referred to as a PBT, a preliminary breath test. There are two devices commonly used. One is called the SD2; and one is just the preliminary breath test. One gives an outcome of positive or negative for alcohol. One will give a reading to the police officer. Neither of them is accurate. Neither one of them comes from machines that are calibrated or closely maintained. Most of us refer to these machines as pocket pieces of garbage. However, police use it as the main cause or probable cause to arrest a person who submits to this. Everybody should keep in mind they have a right to refuse to take this preliminary breath test, as much as they do not have to take the roadside field test that is given. You also don’t have to take a breath test with the Intoxilyzer 5000, given on the data master. That is requested as well.

Is the Intoxilyzer 5000 on the data master different because it is given at the police station, not roadside?

That’s correct. I’m one of a few attorneys on Long Island that actually owns the Intoxilyzer 5000 here at the office. This machine that you submit a breath sample into at the police station will give police officers another reading. There’s no print out so the police officer can tell us what it says. There is no record of it. We have no idea of what is was or wasn’t.

Can people refuse roadside tests without any consequences?

They can refuse the roadside field tests. The government refers to those as standardized field sobriety tests. We refer to them as roadside Olympics. None have anything to do with the ability to operate a motor vehicle. You can refuse to take the preliminary breath test. However, still submit if you wish to a chemical test of blood, breath and urine at the police station. Still, it is always our opinion that a person speak to an attorney prior to submitting to any test by the police.