Ask an Official: TPD discusses various alcohol impairment assessment devices
This week’s featured question was submitted for an officer of the Tomahawk Police Department
The question reads:
“Now and again in the paper in the police logs I read about an ‘intoximeter’ and a ‘Preliminary Breath Test’ being used when folks are pulled over for drunk driving. Is there a difference between these machines or is it just a matter of what the policeman prefers to use? What is the difference if that’s the case?”
Answer given by City of Tomahawk Police Officer Ryan Picl:
“There is a difference between the two. The Intoximeter EC/IR machine is not portable like the PBT or preliminary breath test. The Intoximeter EC/IR is used to show the exact amount of alcohol in a deep lung breath within a tolerance of +/-.005 of a known dry gas target.
“In layman’s terms, a deep lung breath is like blowing up a balloon till you run out of air and the air that is tested is in the very end of the breath. This is the result that is used in court trials and jury trials by the defense and the prosecution as the Intoximeter EC/IR is linked to Madison and is calibrated often. The PBT is a portable instrument that is usually carried in the squad car of the officer or deputy.
“This is used in the process of finding probable cause for an arrest and the results of the PBT can only be used in a preliminary of the court process. When a PBT is used by the officer during an OWI stop, the officer or deputy should already know by the Standard Field Sobriety tests if they believe the person is over the legal limit of .08 and the PBT just lets the officer or deputy know if there is more than alcohol in the person’s blood system. i.e. drugged driving.”
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