Breath test conundrum Iowa law authorizes law enforcement to request a preliminary breath test, or, portable breath test, when an officer has reasonable grounds to otherwise believe that a motorist is intoxicated. The PBT is essentially one of a battery of field tests when, combined with the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn, and the one leg stand, assist an officer in forming further reasonable grounds to invoke implied consent and detain a motorist for further Datmaster DMT testing, or, in the alternative, urine or blood testing, at the discretion of the law enforcement academy trained and certified SFST administrator. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, or Waterloo OWI, or, Operating While Intoxicated, contact DAC-LAW PLC, today for an initial consultation at 319-389-4276.
This is the fifth in a series of blogs regarding a Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, or other Iowa community OWI (DUI) defendant’s best options during a criminal prosecution for drunk driving.
A Cedar Rapids, Linn County, or other municipal or county law enforcement officer stopped you on the roadway by activating emergency top lights, ostensibly because you were speeding, your tail light was inoperable, or because you appeared to be weaving across the fog line or center line. S/he approaches the vehicle and as you roll down the window, the police officer asks you to produce license, registration, and proof of insurance simultaneously, a divided attention task. All the while, the police officer is gauging whether you are fumbling with your wallet or unable to produce the requested documents due to impairment.
After they obtain the driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance you can produce, they return to the patrol car and run the pertinent identifying information through dispatch to determine if there are any wants or warrants, to discern your validity to drive, and check whether your registration is current. When they return, the officer asks the driver whether he or she has been drinking, or maybe that happens right away upon the initial approach, purportedly based on the odor of alcohol, slurred speech, or blood shot watery eyes, all standard dictation in a Cedar Rapids OWI law enforcement narrative.
If the driver makes admissions at that point, it’s usually a “couple” drinks, a favorite answer, one with which law enforcement is all too familiar. Officer Friendly follows up with “how many is a couple?” and further questions determining the alcohol content of the five Long Island Ice Teas or Bud Lights the driver allegedly consumed drinking after work with friends, starting at 6 PM and ending typically a half hour before leaving the bar. A request to step out of the vehicle to conduct standardized field sobriety tests, or, SFSTs, sounds more like a command. The driver complies. After an eye test, a walk and turn, and one leg stand, the police officer determines they have enough reasonable grounds to request a preliminary breath test, or, PBT.
The PBT is often confused with the Datamaster DMT evidentiary test because both require a breath sample. One is conducted outside, typically, near the patrol car after SFSTs. The Datamaster DMT test is conducted inside an OWI processing office, usually attached to a police stationhouse or jail. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Datamaster DMT Serial No. 145806 is located at the Linn County Jail STOP office on May’s Island. Marion Police Department also operates a Datamaster DMT at the Marion Police station on Highway 151.
The Datamaster DMT when operated by a certified operator according to standardized protocols, and when the machine is properly certified by the State of Iowa, may be used for evidentiary purposes in a jury trial.
Certified and approved PBT devices are portable devices that may be used in an Iowa OWI investigation by certified SFST test administrators who are patrol officers in the field. They are one of a battery of field sobriety tests used to determine if reasonable grounds exist to invoke implied consent and, typically, request a Datamaster DMT breath test back at the stationhouse or jail. The PBT is not admissible before the jury as to the presence nor amount of alcohol in the breath. The Datamaster DMT is admissible to the jury and is, in fact, presumptively the level of alcohol in one’s breath (the presumptive level of intoxication can measured by breath, blood, or urine) at the time of operation if the test is properly administered within two hours of operation.
If someone refuses a PBT, they may still consent to a Datamaster DMT. If someone consents to a PBT, they may still refuse a Datamaster DMT. However, refusal of the Datamaster DMT results in longer driver’s license revocations and may, but is not required, to be used in jury deliberations for purposes of determining if someone is guilty of Operation While Intoxicated, pursuant to Iowa Code § 321J.2.
There are sixteen approved PBT devices in the State of Iowa. However, for purposes of evidentiary testing, the Datamaster DMT is approved for use in Cedar Rapids and Marion, Iowa.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for an Iowa OWI (DUI), contact DAC-LAW PLC at 319-389-4276 or
for an initial consultation today. However, remember that a blog is not legal advice and that sending unsolicited information to an attorney over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client relationship.