If you are pulled over in Virginia and the officer suspects you of driving under the influence of alcohol, you are entitled to a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) if you choose take one. Unlike the breath test that is administered after a DUI arrest at the police station or jail, you are not required to take a PBT, which is typically given during a traffic stop. An officer may tell you that taking a PBT can only help you because PBT results cannot be used against you in a DUI prosecution. The officer may even tell you that if you register a PBT result that is below the legal limit, you can be on your way and won’t be arrested.
But what the officer will not tell you is that PBT results can be used in court to establish probable cause for the DUI arrest. Not only can PBT results be used against you in court to establish probable cause for the arrest, there is no law prohibiting its use in prosecutions for non-DUI crimes, such as public intoxication and interdiction. It is important to consider these potentially serious consequences when determining whether to take a PBT.