Illinois employs two different types of breath tests in DUI cases. This guide will explain what these two devices are, when they are used, and what the impact that each one will have on your case.
The Preliminary Breath Test
Preliminary breath tests (PBTs) are breath tests administered in the "field," meaning that it is given before the accused driver is brought to the police station. The PBT results can only be introduced in limited circumstances. PBT results can generally be used for two reasons: (1) as evidence at a summary suspension hearing; and (2) at a hearing deciding whether or not the arresting officer had the necessary probable cause to arrest the driver for a DUI.
Drivers in Illinois have the right to refuse to take the PBTs.
This all means that if you submit to a PBT, the PBT results cannot be used by a prosecutor at your trial for a DUI. However, that is where the evidentiary breath test comes in.
The Evidentiary Breath Test
Evidentiary breath tests are generally conducted at a police station after a driver has already been arrested for a DUI. However, these breath tests can also be done at police check points with approved portable equipment. The standard for equipment and procedures involved in an evidentiary breath test are more stringent than those of a PBT, so Illinois law allows them to be used by a prosecutor at a defendant's trial for a DUI.
Even if you have previously submitted to a PBT, that does not mean you should also submit to an evidentiary breath test. Deciding whether or not to submit to an evidentiary breath test in Illinois involves weighing many factors. If you submit, the prosecutor has damning evidence to use at your trial. If you refuse, your license can be suspended and the prosecutor may be able to argue at trial that you only refused because you knew you would fail.
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