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What is the Difference Between the PBT and Breathalyzer?

If a Virginia police officer observes a driver speeding, driving erratically, failing to stop at a red light or stop sign, swerving or making any other traffic offense, the officer of the law has a right to pull the vehicle over for the traffic offense. Once pulled over, if the officer smells alcohol or has any reason to believe the driver has been drinking, the officer may have the driver undergo different field sobriety tests and can ask the driver to take a preliminary breath test (PBT) to determine if the driver is driving under the influence of alcohol in Virginia.

How Does the PBT Work?

The suspect blows into the tube on the machine in order for the officer to find out if the driver has alcohol in his or her system. This test claims to measure the driver's breath alcohol level and gives police officers an understanding if the driver has been drinking. The problem with this test is that these machines are not always accurate. The good news is that the results can be argued and are not admissible in court; however, the bad news is that the numbers are often inflated or can result in a false positive, which could give an officer a reason to arrest a driver for DUI in Virginia.

There are two tests that people often confuse for one another - the PBT and the official breathalyzer test.

The PBT is the first test conducted in the field, often on the side of a road. The breathalyzer test is generally the second test conducted back at the police station. This breath test is mandatory, unlike the PBT, which is voluntary. However, police tend to not tell suspects that the PBT is voluntary, and drivers need to know that they have a right to refuse the preliminary breath test in Manassas, Virginia.

If you do not refuse to take the PBT and you blow into it and get arrested for DUI in Virginia, you should contact a Virginia DUI defense attorney immediately. The next step police officers will take is to make you take an official breath test or blood test at the police station. These results are admissible in court, and it is wise to contact an experienced attorney before taking these tests. DUI defense lawyers know that breath machines are subject to error and will know what to look for to make sure it was calibrated properly and in good working order.

If you have been arrested in Virginia for driving under the influence of alcohol, contact an attorney skilled in Virginia DUI law. Call T. Kevin Wilson, an experienced Virginia DUI defense lawyer at the Wilson Law Firm, toll free at (800) DUI - LWYR or (703) 361-6100 today.

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