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Are roadside breath tests for alcohol accurate?

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2023 | DUI

Police officers have many different options for trying to determine a person’s impairment level during a traffic stop. Some rely heavily on a field sobriety test, but there are times when they will conduct a roadside breath test. 

One thing that some people don’t realize is that these roadside tests are very limited. They’re only useful as a guide about a person’s impairment level. 

Are the roadside tests admissible in court?

Roadside breath tests are often inaccurate, so they aren’t admissible in court. The breath test that’s suitable for the court is one that’s obtained from the stationary breath test device often found in police stations. 

Roadside tests are known as preliminary alcohol screening device tests that can provide probable cause for arrest. Once the person’s level comes back above the legal limit, the officer will have to have them take another test to determine the actual reading. This can be a breath, blood, or urine test. 

The difference between the stationary machine and the PAS device is that the stationary machine has to undergo strict calibration procedures on a set schedule. The stationary tests must be administered in a very precise manner. The lack of strict calibration and uncertainty of how roadside tests are administered, as well as the unreliability, has led to them being excluded as evidence in drunk driving cases. 

Fighting a drunk driving charge takes work, so you can’t wait too long to start working on your defense strategy. Experienced legal guidance can help you better understand your charges and make sense of the options ahead.