A PBT is the preliminary breath test. In Georgia, we use the alco-sensor, manufactured by Intoximeters.
Georgia law does not allow the numeric result of the PBT to be used in court. The device does display a numeric result. However, in court, a police officer may only say whether the reading was positive or negative for the presence of alcohol.
Police officers use the PBT to assist in their decision to make an arrest. However, the device is based on a fuel cell technology that does not have the ability to screen out interferents that can create a false positive result.
Common interferents include, but are not limited to, residual mouth alcohol associated with recent consumption of alcoholic beverages, radio frequency interference, and chemicals found in the workplace.
I have seen many results on an alco-sensor that are significantly higher than a breath test on an Intoxilyzer 9000 or a blood test.
The official breath test used in George is the Intoxilyzer 9000. It uses a more (but not completely) reliable technology based on infrared spectrometry.
Advice if you are Asked to Submit to a PBT:
Unless you have had absolutely nothing to drink, there is no reason to take this test. You have an absolute right to refuse the preliminary breath test in Georgia.
However, if you are asked to perform this test, make sure you understand that this is not the official “state-administered” breath test.
After a person is arrested for a DUI in Georgia, the police officer will read the Georgia Implied Consent Warning and request the official breath test. Please note, refusal to submit to testing in Georgia does have consequences, including loss of your driver's license for up to 12 months. The fact that someone refused testing can be used by the prosecutor in court to show a consciousness of guilt.
That being said, there are circumstances when it would be advisable to refuse the state-administered test. However, never confuse the official test requested after a DUI arrest with the PBT given on the side of the road.