When you have been pulled over and are suspected of drinking and driving, you could be asked to submit to a breath test. There are different types of breath tests. Misconceptions exist about what your rights are when asked to take a breath test and what these types of tests are. These misunderstandings can lead to more problems, especially if you are facing DUI and/or Refusal charges in Rhode Island
At The Law Office of David Ellison, our DUI and/or Refusal defense lawyers in Rhode Island help our clients understand all aspects of their DUI and Refusal cases. We believe informed clients make better decisions about their DUI and/or Refusal case. If you have questions or want to speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer who handles DUI and Refusal cases in Rhode Island, call us at 401-230-5520 to schedule a consultation.
What Are Breath Tests?
Police officers use breath tests in their DUI investigation to help determine if somebody is impaired from alcohol. They can be used in roadside testing and following arrests to help determine whether an alleged drunk driver was under the influence of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle. These tests can be used for operators of cars and trucks as well as operators of motorcycles, boats, and other vehicles.
There are two different types of breath tests: the preliminary breath test (PBT) and the breathalyzer machine used at the station. Both types are often simply called "breath tests," and that's where the confusion comes in. By referring to both as breath tests, people assume they are the same thing, but they are not. Each is administered for different reasons and purposes. They also have different meanings in court when used for prosecution purposes.
Preliminary Breath Tests
A preliminary breath test or alcohol screening is a breath alcohol test conducted using a portable breath machine in the field, meaning on the side of the road during a traffic stop or DUI investigation. These are used in the "pre-arrest screening" portion of a DUI investigation. The PBT measures a person's breath alcohol content. Portable breath test results are in most circumstances inadmissible in court because they are unreliable. However, they can be admissible to help determine whether there was probable cause to arrest somebody.
PBTs are administered when a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe you are unlawfully intoxicated. Maybe your speech was slurred, your eyes were bloodshot, you admitted to drinking and/or you "failed" Field Sobriety tests. If you fail the PBT, that may be enough probable cause to arrest you for a DUI and the police will take you to the station to take a breathalyzer.
After an arrest for a DUI, you will be asked to take another test. Typically, this is a chemical test using a breathalyzer that is certified by the Rhode Island Department of Health. The breathalyzer is not a portable machine like the PBT and produces results that are more accurate and are much more likely to be admitted into court as evidence against you. Approved breathalyzer machines are subject to calibration requirements and receive frequent testing from the Department of Health to make sure they are accurate, which in turn will make them admissible in court.
Contact a DUI Defense Lawyer in Rhode Island Today
You can have your day in court to challenge DUI and/or Refusal charges regardless if you took and failed a breath test or refused one. Contact The Law Office of David Ellison today by calling us at 401-230-5520 or filling out an online form to schedule a consultation. We have experienced DUI attorneys who will review your case and discuss your best legal options.