Waging the Battle against Drunk Driving: Issues, Countermeasures, and Effectiveness

By Gerald D. Robin | Go to book overview

5
Preliminary Breath Tests

Preliminary Breath Testing (PBT) devices are portable, hand-held units that measure the BAC level from a breath sample, taken at roadside, by having the driver blow into a disposable mouthpiece. 1 Because Preliminary (or Pre-arrest) Breath Test results are an objective, chemical indicator of blood alcohol content, they are considered more reliable than the officer's subjective evaluation of intoxication based on the driver's general demeanor and field sobriety tests. 2


USE OF PRELIMINARY BREATH TESTS

As a roadside screening aid, PBTs are primarily used to establish or verify whether there is probable cause to arrest and, especially in marginal cases, for detecting borderline drunk drivers who might otherwise be able to conceal overt signs of intoxication. 3 Even when PBT information does not justify an arrest, it can be invaluable to the officer in deciding whether the motorist or passengers are sober enough to have the car released to them on the spot. 4 In Washington where 196 PBTs are being used by state troopers working the night shift, 59 percent of the suspects who took the PBT in 1988 were arrested and 69 percent of their passengers who consented to a PBT were not allowed to drive. 5 A report released in November 1988 documented that "two interventions substantially reduce alcohol-

-43-

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Waging the Battle against Drunk Driving: Issues, Countermeasures, and Effectiveness
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - The Drunk Driving Problem 1
  • 2 - Coming to Grips with Drunk Driving 7
  • 3 - The Police Response to Drunk Drivers 21
  • 4 - Sobriety Checkpoints 29
  • 5 - Preliminary Breath Tests 43
  • 6 - Administrative License Suspension 49
  • 7 - Prosecuting Drunk Drivers 57
  • 8 - Defending Drunk Drivers 67
  • 9 - Mandatory Sentences for Drunk Drivers 73
  • 10 - Impact of Mandatory Sentences on the Criminal Justice System 87
  • 11 - Non-Cruel and Unusual Punishment 93
  • 12 - Third Party Liability for Alcohol-Related Accidents 99
  • 13 - Deterring Drunk Driving 109
  • Notes 119
  • Selected Bibliography 135
  • Index 139
  • About the Author 145
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