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New Jersey DWI Roadside Breath Tests

Very few police officers in New Jersey use roadside breath tests, often called PBTs or portable breath tests. In fact, the Attorney General recently issued a memorandum in Camden County that all police officers are to discontinue use of PBTs there.

Defenses Against Portable Breath Tests

In order for breath test results to be admissible in a DWI case, they must have been generated on a machine that has gone through rigorous testing and been approved by the Attorney General.

In any case where a police officer does use a portable breath test, an experienced attorney should be sure to file a motion to suppress the results. None of the portable breath tests that officers use have gone through the necessary testing and none have been deemed to be scientifically reliable in New Jersey. Therefore, the results should not be admissible as evidence in a DWI case.

It could also be argued that use of a PBT is actually an unreasonable search, as the suspected drunk driver is “searched” without a warrant prior to his arrest.

PBTs and Implied Consent

Use of the PBT can cause additional confusion at the police station. Officers are required to read the implied consent warning to suspected drunk drivers before administering the official breath test. A suspect who has already taken the PBT may not know the difference between the two tests and could refuse the official test, thinking that the sample given at the roadside should be enough. Portable breath tests are only one of many facets of a DWI case that can be challenged by an experienced attorney.