PBT Breath Alcohol Test: Definition and Purpose
28 September, 2023
Preliminary breath test, or PBT, is a process of estimating a person’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) through a portable device. PBT breath alcohol test is used by law enforcement to determine if a person is impaired while driving. It gives an objective measure of a person’s level of intoxication and see if they are within the allowable limits for driving. Therefore, this procedure helps identify safety hazards on the road and manage these risks.
Drink driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents and injuries. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause severe physical and mental impairments. It often results in compromised judgment, reduced perception and poor coordination. This poses a risk in driving as the person cannot properly assess danger signs or control the vehicle. This article will provide essential information on preliminary alcohol testing, including its procedure, purpose, and reliability.
What is PBT Breath Alcohol Test?
PBT breath alcohol test is a method of determining if a person has recently consumed alcohol. It utilises a handheld device called a breathalyser to detect the presence of alcohol in the exhaled breath. Compared to saliva or urine sample analysis, this procedure allows for quick and convenient testing. After providing a breath sample, the breathalyser can deliver the results in seconds.
A breath alcohol test is non-invasive and can be administered almost anywhere. The portability of the device also makes it ideal for roadside or on-site testing. This allows police officers to determine if a person is legally intoxicated while driving. Hence, they can make decisions or take actions accordingly. However, the results of the initial test cannot be used in court.
When a person tests positive for ethyl alcohol, authorities require the driver to give a breath or blood test at a police station. This involves using an evidential device to measure the exact concentration of alcohol in the breath. Then, the results of this test become the basis for legal charges and penalties.
How it Works
- The person blows into the breathalyser, and it analyses the breath sample immediately.
- The breathalyser contains sensors that can calculate the amount of alcohol in the breath.
- After analysis, the device displays the results on the screen.
- Police officers compare the individual’s test result to the legal limit (0.05%).
- If the breath alcohol level is zero or below the limit, the person may continue driving.
- If the breath alcohol concentration is 0.05% or higher, the person is asked to take a follow-up test.
- A person may face charges depending on the BAC level or severity of the situation.
What is the Purpose of PBT Breath Alcohol Test?
The main purpose of a PBT breath alcohol test is to estimate the alcohol concentration in the system. This is customary in roadside screening, but they are also common in workplace and healthcare settings. Firstly, law enforcement officers conduct this procedure to test for sobriety. It helps them determine if a person has hazardous levels of alcohol in their blood.
The preliminary screening helps officers determine whether a driver should undergo further testing. If the PBT breathalyser test indicates a high BAC, it can be used as a reasonable ground to make an arrest. This test also acts as a deterrent for drink driving. It discourages individuals from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.
Another purpose is to monitor employee impairment in the workplace. Organisations implement alcohol breath testing to identify individuals working under the influence of alcohol. This helps manage safety risks associated with alcohol use or abuse. Through early detection, employers can take measures to prevent untoward incidents. The regulations of alcohol use may vary for every company depending on their workplace policies.
What to Expect
During a breathalyser test, the individual will be asked to speak near or blow into the device. In field sobriety tests, a police officer will check that the person does not consume anything before the test, such as breath fresheners, that may affect the results. On the other hand, a person may refuse a breath test if there are valid medical reasons.
In workplace monitoring, employers may conduct this test randomly or after an incident. If the results are positive, expect to take a follow-up test through a blood sample analysis. Companies may impose disciplinary actions if an employee is proven to violate the policies.
Is a PBT Breath Alcohol Test Accurate and Reliable?
A PBT breath alcohol test is a reliable way to detect alcohol in the system. Police breathalysers use electrochemical platinum fuel cell sensors to estimate the blood alcohol level accurately. This technology is specific to ethyl alcohol and is not reactive to other endogenous substances in the breath. Therefore, it is less likely to produce false-negative results.
Professional breathalysers undergo regular recalibration to ensure the device functions according to a set alcohol standard. They are also subject to rigorous testing to ensure the results are consistent and valid. Moreover, these devices adhere to federal or international standards, making them a reliable option for alcohol detection. For example, companies must use AS3547-certified devices for workplace alcohol testing.
Furthermore, it is vital to follow the correct procedure or guidelines for breath testing. Individuals must blow steadily for five seconds or longer. Insufficient breath samples may cause errors, prompting the device to retest. For personal testing, it is crucial to wait at least 20 minutes after consuming an alcoholic beverage before using a breathalyser. This helps to avoid inaccurate BAC due to mouth alcohol.
Legal Implications of Failed Results
Failed breath test results can have several legal implications depending on various factors. Positive BAC results in field sobriety testing may incur penalty units, fines, and license suspension. If the BAC is far beyond the legal levels, a person may face imprisonment and an alcohol interlock order.
In addition, subsequent offences may result in heavier penalties, such as longer disqualification or prison terms. For employees, they may face suspension or termination. They may also undergo rehabilitation before they can get back to work. However, if a person believes the results are false, they may seek legal advice from experienced lawyers to determine their options.
The PBT breath alcohol test is an effective way to estimate the blood alcohol concentration of a person. It involves taking a sample of breath and analysing it through a portable breath analysis machine. The device utilises electrochemical fuel cell technology to give accurate readings. It works by measuring the grams of alcohol in the breath in proportion to the level of alcohol in the blood.
The purpose of the test is to determine if a person is committing drink driving offences, such as driving over the legal limit. It allows law enforcement officers to receive an objective assessment of an individual’s sobriety. Similarly, workplaces implement breath tests to monitor impairment and minimise alcohol-related risks. If a person fails the preliminary breath screening, a follow-up test via evidential devices is necessary. It can have legal implications, such as penalty notices, license suspension, and imprisonment.