The difference between roadside PBT and evidentiary breath tests

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Breath tests play a crucial role in determining a driver’s level of intoxication. In Texas, law enforcement officers rely on two types of tests. The Roadside Portable Breath Test and the Evidentiary Breath Test both serve a purpose though they differ in their application and legal implications.

There are several things to understand about these tests and your DWI traffic stop.

Roadside Portable Breath Test

The roadside test is a preliminary assessment tool that law enforcement officers use during a traffic stop to quickly assess a driver’s blood alcohol content. The results of this test are inadmissible in court, so they serve as a tool for probable cause instead.

The roadside test also has some limitations. The results are typically not as accurate as the evidentiary test. Environmental conditions and the presence of other substances can interfere with the results of a portable test, so it cannot serve as conclusive evidence of DWI.

Evidentiary breath test

The Evidentiary Breath Test, on the other hand, requires more controlled and regulated conditions, often at a police station or a designated testing facility. This test is more accurate and serves as a critical piece of evidence if a case goes to court.

The testing equipment used for Evidentiary Breath Testing receives calibration and maintenance regularly to ensure accurate results. For that reason, the results of an Evidentiary Breath Test serve as evidence in court and can result in charges of driving while intoxicated.

There were more than 80,000 traffic stops resulting in DWI charges in Texas in 2022. Many of these cases relied on breath test results. Understand the difference between the roadside and evidentiary testing so that you can better protect yourself.