Seattle DUI Arrest - Portable Breath Test Discussed

If you are stopped on suspicion of DUI by a Seattle DUI police officer or a Washington State Patrol DUI Trooper you will probably be asked to submit to field sobriety tests and then you will be asked to submit to a test of your breath on the “portable breath test” or “PBT.” This is a handheld breath test device that many Seattle DUI police officers use to confirm the decision to make a dui arrests. At the time of this writing, there are two DUI PBT devices approved by the State Toxicologist. These are the Alcosensor III and the Alcosensor FST (Intoximeters, St. Louis, MO). The PBT is typically administered on the street at the location of the DUI stop. You don’t lose your driver’s license for refusing to submit to a PBT. Nor can the results of the PBT be admitted into evidence on the issue of guilt or innocence at a DUI trial so long as the DUI defense attorney makes the proper objection. However, the PBT should not be confused with the “official” breath test machine – the BAC DataMaster. The BAC DataMaster is the breath test machine typically located at a police station (although they are also located in the Washington State Patrol’s DUI motorhome called the "MIDU."

Once a DUI arrest has been made, the officer will read the “Implied Consent Warnings” to the DUI suspect before asking him/her to take the test. There is a penalty for refusing to take the BAC DataMaster – suspension or revocation of the driver’s license. In addition, refusing to take the BAC DataMaster DUI breath test will result in tougher penalties if a conviction results from the DUI arrest. If under investigation for a Seattle DUI, it is important to know the differences between the PBT and the BAC DataMaster.

A person under arrest has the right to talk with an attorney (usually this is done by phone) prior to making the decision to take or refuse the DUI breath test on the BAC DataMaster, and such a consultation is always a good idea. Whereas the example above is from a Seattle DUI arrest, the principles discussed apply to any Washington State DUI arrest.