Preliminary Breath Tests (PBT) ruled inadmissible in PA

Filed under: Criminal Law, DUI, News Tags: by Steven F. Fairlie @ September 12, 2009

It has long been the law that Prearrest or Preliminary Breath Testing (PBT) results are not admissible in criminal trials.  The exceptions involved their usage to develop probable cause to perform admissible testing like a certified breathalyzer in a police station or to draw and test a driver’s blood.  The Pennsylvania Superior Court, however, recently modified that law in Commonwealth v. Brigidi.  The Court clarified that while PBT results are admissible in underage drinking cases if properly obtained, they are not admissible if they are not referenced in the list of approved PBTdevices published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, calibrated, and tested for accuracy in the manner specified by regulations of the Departments of Health and Transportation.  Since, in our experience, very few PBT devices utilized in Mongomery County, Bucks County, and surrounding areas meet these requirements, this is a crucial ruling that should be examined by an experienced criminal defense practitioner in any DUI or Underage Drinking case. Contact a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney at Fairlie & Lippy if you have any questions or need to discuss your case.


  1. Recently convicted of DUI and breath test was not admitted. Police did not get blood draw at hospital where I was taken.Breath test was below .08?

  2. Mark McDill says:

    My son recently got cited for mip and public intoxication at college. He was given a pbt at the college police station but according to him was not read his pbt rights. He informed me the officer held the pbt up and said blow into this. What are our options? Thanks.

  3. In Pennsylvania the police cannot force someone to submit to a portable breath test device and there are no rights that must be read prior to requesting that someone take the test. He should talk with a lawyer in order to discuss all of the details of his case.

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