Portable Breath Tests

The Portable Breath Test

   After completing field sobriety tests the officer is going to ask you to submit to a handheld portable breath test (PBT). This device does give a numerical reading, however, this number is not admissible in court. The officer may only testify to whether or not the reading on the portable breath test was positive or negative for the presence of alcohol. Many individuals correctly mistake the portable breath test for the state’s chemical breath test. Only the result of the  state’s chemical breath test, or blood test, may be used in court to prove what your blood alcohol concentration was at the time of your arrest.

   The purpose of the PBT is to determine if you are under the influence of alcohol, or drugs. If the officer believes you are impaired based on the results of your field sobriety tests he is going to give you the PBT to see how much alcohol is in your system. If the result of the PBT is .08 or higher he is going to ask you to submit to the state’s chemical breath test because he believes you are impaired by alcohol. If the results of the PBT are negative, or it is a low level of alcohol, the officer is going to ask you to submit to the state’s chemical blood test because the officer believes the impairment he saw during your field sobriety tests was caused by drugs, or the combination of drugs and alcohol.

   The PBT is entirely voluntary, and there are not any license penalties if you refuse to submit to it the way there are if you refuse to submit to the state’s chemical tests. Simply put, refusing to submit to the PBT will not suspend your driver’s license, or your privilege to drive in the State of Georgia.