The portable breath test vs. the in-station breath test. What is the difference?
A brief guide to the PBT and the in-station breath test.
The PBT.In your standard DUI case, the police ask you to do the standard field sobriety tests and then will usually offer you a portable breath test (or PBT).
The police, according to Washington Administrative Code 448-15-030, are supposed to tell you the test is voluntary and is not a substitute for an evidentiary breath test.
You may not know this, but you have already consented to a search of your breath for evidentiary purposes. You did this when you drove on the roads of the State. Through the magic of something called "implied consent." This may be the topic of another guide, but will not be further discussed here.
The important of implied consent is that your refusal to submit to the testing can be used against you. So, while the roadside PBT result cannot be used against you in court, a refusal of it can be used against you.
So, what good is the PBT if it cannot be used in court? Well, it can be used by the officer to determine whether he has probable cause to arrest you. So, if you blow over a .08 into a PBT, you can count on getting arrested.
The in-station breath test.When you get to the station, the police will go through a packet of information containing both your constitutional rights and the "implied consent" warnings. They will give you the opportunity to talk to a lawyer and you should exercise this right. This is a lot of information to process and it may take more than one explanation to understand it.
The in-station test, if done properly, is the one that is admissible in court. It requires two blows into the machine and has more rigorous standards than the PBT. Refusal of this test, also under the implied consent theory, is also admissible against you in court. Also, if you refuse the test, the police have the option of applying for a search warrant for your blood. If the warrant is granted, they will obtain a sample of your blood.
Independent testing.You also have the right to an independent test of your blood. Initially this will be at your expense. But, the State tests are not foolproof, so if feasible, it is wise to request such a test.
Contact a lawyer ASAP after you get out of jail to assist in your defense.