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Published on 8/15/2023, 1:57:00 PM

PBT versus a Breathalyzer: Understanding the Key Differences between these Alcohol Tests

It's a chilly Saturday evening, and you're driving back home from a friend's house when the dreaded flashing lights appear in your rearview mirror. The officer suspects you of driving under the influence and presents you with a choice to undergo a breath test.

Are you afraid of making a mistake resulting in criminal charges? Would you know the difference between a PBT and a Breathalyzer, and how it can affect your case?

In Maryland, the distinction between these two can be pivotal. In this article, we'll delve deep into understanding these tests and their implications for drivers like you who might've been charged with their first dui in maryland.

Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) | What is a PBT?

The Preliminary Breath Test, or PBT, serves as an initial assessment tool for officers. Designed to be used roadside, its main function is to determine probable cause for a DUI arrest. One essential point to remember? The PBT's result isn�t admissible as evidence in court in Maryland.

Refusing a PBT in MD

You might wonder, can I decline the PBT? The answer is yes. Maryland law allows drivers to refuse the PBT without court-based penalties or presumptions of guilt.

While an officer might use your refusal to strengthen their reasoning for arresting you, legally, you won't face punitive action for turning it down.

Breathalyzer in Maryland: The Intoximeter EC/IR II

When we mention the term 'Breathalyzer' in Maryland, we're typically referring to the Intoximeter EC/IR II. A state-recognized tool, it measures the breath or blood alcohol content (BAC) and plays a decisive role in Maryland DUI cases. The "EC" stands for electro-chemical, and "IR" represents infrared, both methods used to gauge BAC.

How the Intoximeter Works

The infrared method accomplishes this by relying on the absorption of infrared light by alcohol in the sample chamber. The electro-chemical method, also called the fuel cell method, converts ethanol and oxygen into acetic acid and water. The process creates an electrical current proportional to the concentration of alcohol in the blood, which can then be measured.

This machine isn't perfect, and a Maryland Breathlyzer can be challenged.

Legal Implications of Intoximeter Results

Understanding BAC levels and their legal ramifications is critical. Here's a quick breakdown:

For those under 21? Any BAC over .02 is a violation of a license restriction.

Reliability and Challenges

While the Intoximeter is largely seen as accurate, no machine is infallible. Calibration errors, mishandling, or even the consumption of certain foods can skew results. In court, experienced attorneys often challenge these results, highlighting inaccuracies and casting doubt on their reliability.

Comparing PBT and the Intoximeter

Though both tools measure alcohol levels, their roles and implications differ significantly. PBTs estimate breath alcohol content, but their results don't hold up in court. On the flip side, Intoximeter results not only influence arrest decisions but also serve as robust evidence during trials on charges like DUI Per Se

Frequently asked Questions about PBTs

Is a PBT the same as a breathalyzer?
No, while both are tools to measure alcohol, their functionalities and implications are distinct.

What is more accurate a breathalyzer or blood test?
Blood tests are generally more precise than breath tests. However, their administration is more invasive and requires a formal process. In Maryland we allow either to be introduced as evidence. Both breath and blood tests can be challenged in drunk driving cases.

What does PBT mean for police?

For police, a PBT acts as a tool to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest, guiding their decision on whether an arrest is warranted. In Court they cannot rely upon the PBT for evidence.

Are PBTs accurate?
PBTs provide a general idea of impairment but are not as precise as the Intoximeter or blood tests. That's why their results aren't admissible in court.

Can I use a PBT in my DUI Defense?

Yes- a Defendant can use a preliminary breath test result in a court action; however, the State cannot use a preliminary breath test against a person in a prosecution.

Should I turn down a PBT in Maryland?

While a PBT technically cannot incriminate you, it doesn't do much good to submit to a PBT. Unless you believe it's going to read 0.00, chances are an officer is only using it to confirm there's alcohol in your system - not how much alcohol.

FrizWoods LLC and DUI Cases

If you're facing DUI charges, understanding these tests is just the tip of the iceberg. Having a seasoned defense attorney by your side can make a world of difference, whether you're facing your first or second dui charge.

At FrizWoods LLC, we've consistently challenged breath test results, drawing on intricate knowledge and procedural anomalies to defend our clients. Don't just take our word for it; see what our clients have to say.

Speak with a lawyer today.

Being informed can significantly shape the trajectory of your DUI case. The difference between a PBT and the Intoximeter is not just academic; it�s practical and can be the line between conviction and acquittal. If you're wondering if you need a DUI lawyer - the answer is most likely yes.

If you or someone you know is grappling with DUI charges in Maryland, time is of the essence. With a robust defense strategy and a deep understanding of Maryland's DUI laws, FrizWoods LLC is your trusted partner in these trying times. Reach out today and let us help you navigate these treacherous waters.