Portable Breath Test : the Alco-Sensor

The PBT is recommended for use after the field sobriety tests, although an officer will frequently employ before other FST’s, which fundamentally prejudices his evaluation of the other tests. Administration of the PBT after the other field sobriety tests (FST’s) also helps the officer comply with an industry recommended 15 minute deprivation time period. The Alcosensor IV operating manual specifically recommends a 15 minute waiting period. However, officers frequently ignore this recommendation and direct motorists to blow into a PBT before the administration of other FST’s.

In the 1980’s PBTs were (in many States) originally intended to be used after the FST’s to ensure the officer is working with an alcohol issue as opposed to drugs or a diabetic condition (Qualification not Quantification). Over the course of time in many states the PBT result has become admissible evidence (Qualification and now Quantification). But, the PBT is not accurate for determining BrAC. Carry over effect, lack of mouth alcohol detection, improper deprivation period, lack of calibration maintenance, and fuel cell maintenance are some of the top issues in cases involving a PBT. On the Alcosensor, the calibration adjustment screw is exposed on the side of the unit and assessable to the operator. The unit even comes with its own mini screwdriver to adjust the value up or down. Georgia allows any police officer to administer a PBT, and any of them can adjust the calibration of a PBT.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website

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