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The PBT (portable breath testing device) is commonly used by law enforcement officers to obtain a sample of someone’s breath to determine what BAC level he or she has. These portable devices are most often used during a traffic stop on the side of the road. A common question that arises is whether this reading is admissible as evidence or is it merely an investigative tool?

Taking a sample of someone’s breath is considered a search and is protected by the 4th amendment. Thus in order for police to take a breath sample they must either obtain a warrant or fall within one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement.
In North Carolina the law agrees that a breath sample taken when the police have probable cause to believe a driver is driving intoxicated will fall within the exigent circumstances exception. The reasoning behind this that there is a high public interest in keeping intoxicated drivers off the road and that if the police spend time obtaining a warrant evidence of a person’s BAC will diminish. The time taken to get a warrant may take 2-3 hours and during that time alcohol in someone’s system is vanishing thus destroying evidence. Basically in NC as long as a police officer has reason to believe someone is driving intoxicated he may take a breath sample without violating the 4th amendment.
Although it is the PBT breath sample is a search that does not violate the 4th amendment when used to investigate DWI, it is generally inadmissible in a trial but may be admissible in the pre-trial. Our attorneys routinely discredit these tests in court due to officers not following procedures correctly.
Our attorneys have experience handling DWI cases in NC and will work tirelessly to defend your case. Contact one of our attorneys directly by calling 704-499-9000 or toll free 877-374-5999. You will be glad you did. Don’t worry. We are here to help.