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Field Sobriety vs Breathalyzer

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Saluki89 View Post

    It works great at college parties where it turns into "let's see who can blow the highest".
    ...or choir practice in the back parking lot a few hours after getting off work at sunrise...

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    • #17
      Our agency started using these when I went behind the radio (dispatch), but I have heard they are not admissable as evidence in themselves, but are a good start point for SFSTs and the full-size breathalyzer machine
      Former Police Officer (Injured LOD)
      USAF VETERAN 2004-2012
      "The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day."-LTC Grossman
      Emergency Services Dispatcher, APG MD

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      • #18
        PBTs are not allowed under SC law. I've never used one nor needed one. When I was on the road I could estimate BAC within .02, and I was usually dead on.

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        • J2H
          J2H commented
          Editing a comment
          My agency started using them in SC, but only to give the officer an idea of BAC prior to SFSTs.

        • BrianT
          BrianT commented
          Editing a comment
          I thought you were Federal which might change things, but if you use a PBT and charge DUI under state law, you will lose every case if they get an attorney. You can only do one breath test in SC and the datamaster counts as that one test.

        • J2H
          J2H commented
          Editing a comment
          I am Federal, I left before they started using the PBT so I don't know the nuances to it. I transferred to MD prior to them being issued it.

      • #19
        Originally posted by BrianT View Post
        PBTs are not allowed under SC law. I've never used one nor needed one. When I was on the road I could estimate BAC within .02, and I was usually dead on.
        That is pretty amazing.

        Follow up question for all. So, wouldn't the PBT and/or blood urine test be necessary for a person that was hovering right around the legal limit? What if someone is slightly over the legal limit per breath/blood but passes the field sobriety?

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        • Aidokea
          Aidokea commented
          Editing a comment
          NW121, if the offender is over .08 (your state's limit), their eyes will be banging. If their eyes are banging, AND they PBT over the limit, and you gave them a ride home instead of arresting them, would you be able to live with that decision if that offender later kills someone while driving drunk? Would you be able to live with that decision if they caught a ride back to their car right after you dropped them off and then killed someone driving drunk that same night? And you have no idea if they're "coming down" or not. I know you're only three years on the job, but I think what you're doing is unreasonably risky.
          Last edited by Aidokea; 07-14-2019, 07:26 PM.

        • ArmyVet
          ArmyVet commented
          Editing a comment
          Aidokea, as an SFST Instructor, field sobriety tests are NOT pass/fail. They are a collection of information during a DUI investigation to determine impairment. It's a totality of circumstances.

        • Aidokea
          Aidokea commented
          Editing a comment
          ArmyVet, I edited my post to address the semantics issue, so that we can get back onto the subject of the risks incurred in choosing to transport a driver home (instead of to jail) after they PBT over the limit. He's already got Vehicle In Motion and made the decision to stop the vehicle, he's got Personal Contact and has made the decision to have the driver exit the vehicle, has gone through Pre-Arrest Screening during which the subject PBT'd over the limit...and now he's gonna give the driver a ride home? I don't think that's prudent. What do you think?

        • ArmyVet
          ArmyVet commented
          Editing a comment
          Aidokea, Agreed. Either they're safe to to drive away or I'm taking them to jail.

      • #20
        Originally posted by iconoclaste View Post

        That is pretty amazing.
        That's training and experience that has developed into skill. We're not guessing when we arrest impaired drivers- we know exactly what we're looking at.

        In addition to the regular DUI training, some officers can also get ARIDE (Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement)- that's what I have. And beyond that, there is DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) training.

        Follow up question for all. So, wouldn't the PBT and/or blood urine test be necessary for a person that was hovering right around the legal limit?
        I'm not sure what you're asking. The PBT isn't "necessary" at all. It's just a tool that some officers use in the field.

        Breath, blood, and/or urine testing is required by each state's implied consent laws.

        What if someone is slightly over the legal limit per breath/blood but passes the field sobriety?
        There's no way for an offender to do well on the fields if they're over the limit. The HGN is the first test in the fields, and the eyes never lie- if the offender is over the limit, then the eyes will be banging. Either way, they're committing the offense of DUI by being over the legal limit, and they're getting arrested and going to jail.

        Regular, heavy drinkers, have a high tolerance for alcohol, and a lot of them can do just fine on the WAT and OLS portions of the fields, but again, the eyes never lie- if the offender is over the limit, their eyes will be banging.

        And keep in mind that there are numerous ways to commit DUI- being over the limit for alcohol is just ONE of those ways. I've gotten DUI convictions in court against offenders impaired by alcohol alone, with BAC levels as low as .052.
        Last edited by Aidokea; 07-14-2019, 07:26 PM.

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        • #21
          Originally posted by iconoclaste View Post
          If you suspect alcohol impairment, and you have a breathalyzer, then why do the field sobriety? I'm sure there's a common sense answer to this, just always wondered. Thanks!
          In Colorado PBT results can't be entered as evidence EXCEPT in a motions hearing to determine whether an officer had probable cause to require a chemical test. A jury will never see it.

          In the US what convicts a driver of DUI is the result of the chemical test... or the evidence of the officer's observations if the chemical test is refused.

          So, if the driver does the roadsides but refuses the chemical test you have the evidence of the roadsides to convict.

          That said, I personally never conduct roadsides unless I'm pretty sure I'm going to arrest regardless.... the roadsides are just one more thing to pile on... and they can't be faked. As mentioned, even people who practice them while drunk can't actually pass because the HGN can't be fooled.

          ...but if I ask you to do roadsides and you decline, you're going to jail anyway.
          Last edited by tanksoldier; 07-14-2019, 12:28 PM.
          "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

          "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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