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Preliminary Breath Test Concept in Traffic Enforcement (PBT and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) Enforcement)

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Science and Administration Volume: 9 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1981) Pages: 24-27
D Bradel
Date Published
4 pages
The effectiveness of the preliminary breath test (PBT) in aiding the enforcement of driving-while-intoxicated (DWI) laws is examined.
The PBT is an objective roadside blood alcohol content (BAC) chemical test. PBT laws permit police to administer such a test before arresting a driver to determine if there is sufficient evidence for a DWI charge. The preliminary results of the use of PBT's indicate that it is a valuable tool for police in combating the severe drinking-driver problem in this country. PBT's speed the processing time of DWI traffic stops by eliminating the arrest of persons who are not legally under the influence of alcohol. Also, the threat of the widespread use of PBT may have as significant an impact on DWI violators as the actual use of the test. Reliable testing devices are available, and as the state-of-the art progresses, their cost should decrease. For States advocating the enactment and use of PBT laws, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends (1) the use of PBT as an alternative or complement to the traditional roadside psychomotor tests, (2) the use of PBT in situations when the issuance of a search warrant would be impractical, (3) the use of PBT only in situations where reasonable grounds exist for believing a driver is under the influence of alcohol, (4) the administration of a PBT as a nonevidential test to be followed by a second evidential implied consent test if justified, and (5) the use of PBT to help expedite the removal of dangerous drinking drivers from the roads. References are provided. (Author abstract modified)