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Should I Take A Personal Breathalyzer Test?

Fairfax DUI Lawyer Explains What a Personal Breathalyzer Test Is and Whether You Should Take It

If you are on the roadside, stopped by the police, and wondering whether you should submit to a Personal Breathalyzer Test (called a PBT) the answer is NO. Failure to submit cannot be used against you in court. Even if you take the test, the results are not admissible to show you were DUI. They are, however, admissible to prove the police officer had probable cause to arrest you. There is never an instance where you should submit to a PBT. Politely refuse the test and call a lawyer immediately.


Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can result in significant legal consequences. However, the legalities surrounding DUI charges are not always straightforward. Personal breathalyzer tests, for instance, can bring about a slew of questions and confusion. Fortunately, our trusted Fairfax DUI lawyer is here to unravel the knots and explain the ins and outs of a personal breathalyzer test, and advise whether you should take it.

Understanding DUI Laws in Fairfax

Before we delve into the specifics of a personal breathalyzer test, let's first understand DUI laws in Fairfax. It's essential to grasp the foundational knowledge before building upon it.

In Fairfax, and indeed across Virginia, it's illegal to operate a vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. To ascertain this, law enforcement officers may use breathalyzer tests.

What Is a Personal Breathalyzer Test?

A personal breathalyzer test is a device used to measure a person's BAC. While similar in principle to the devices used by law enforcement, personal breathalyzers are typically smaller, portable, and user-friendly. They provide instant results, allowing individuals to check their BAC on the spot. However, the accuracy of personal breathalyzer tests can sometimes be a bone of contention.

How Does a Personal Breathalyzer Test Work?

Personal breathalyzer tests work by analyzing the alcohol content in one's breath. When a person consumes alcohol, it enters their bloodstream and is eventually exhaled through their breath. The breathalyzer captures this breath sample and estimates the BAC.

Types of Personal Breathalyzer Tests

There are primarily three types of personal breathalyzer tests: semiconductor sensor, fuel cell sensor, and infrared spectrometry. Each type has its pros and cons, affecting their cost, accuracy, and reliability.

Accuracy of Personal Breathalyzer Tests

Accuracy is of paramount importance when it comes to personal breathalyzer tests. Unfortunately, not all personal breathalyzers offer the same level of accuracy. Some may provide a rough estimate of BAC, while others could be more precise. Understanding these variations can help in making an informed decision.

Fairfax DUI Lawyer Explains What a Personal Breathalyzer Test Is

According to a renowned Fairfax DUI lawyer, a personal breathalyzer test is a tool for assessing one's level of impairment due to alcohol. It can be used by individuals to gauge their BAC before deciding whether to get behind the wheel. However, it's important to remember that these devices are not foolproof and should not be relied upon to make critical decisions.

Pros and Cons of Personal Breathalyzer Tests

Personal breathalyzer tests come with their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, they provide immediate results and could prevent potential DUI charges by discouraging impaired driving. On the flip side, their accuracy can be questionable, and they could create a false sense of security.

Should You Take a Personal Breathalyzer Test?

No. If you are stopped by the police and being investigated for DUI, taking a PBT can only hurt your case.

Legal Implications of Taking a Personal Breathalyzer Test

The legal implications of taking a personal breathalyzer test can be multifaceted. In some cases, the results could be used against you in a court of law. This is why it's crucial to consult with a Fairfax DUI lawyer to understand your rights and potential ramifications fully.


Below are some frequently asked questions regarding personal breathalyzer tests and their usage.

  1. What happens if I refuse a breathalyzer test in Fairfax? Refusing a breathalyzer test in Fairfax can result in a refusal charge, which can carry significant penalties, including license suspension and fines. However, this does not include refusal of a personal breathalyzer. If you are on the roadside, and the officer offers for you a PBT, the answer is no. If you are in a police station and being asked to submit to a full breathalyzer test, the answer becomes more complicated.
  2. Are personal breathalyzer test results admissible in court? The admissibility of personal breathalyzer test results varies by jurisdiction. In many cases, they are not admissible due to questions surrounding their reliability and accuracy.
  3. Can I use a personal breathalyzer test to avoid a DUI charge? While a personal breathalyzer test can help gauge your BAC, it should not be relied upon to avoid a DUI charge. They are not 100% accurate, and you could still be impaired even if your BAC is under the legal limit.
  4. How accurate are personal breathalyzer tests? The accuracy of personal breathalyzer tests varies based on the type and quality of the device. Some are more reliable than others. However, none are foolproof.
  5. Where can I buy a personal breathalyzer test? Personal breathalyzer tests can be purchased online or at select retail stores. However, remember to research and choose a reliable device.
  6. Should I consult a Fairfax DUI lawyer before taking a personal breathalyzer test?Consulting a Fairfax DUI lawyer before taking a personal breathalyzer test is advisable. They can provide guidance on your legal rights and the potential implications of taking such a test. Call Mr. R. Tyler Bezilla today for a free consultation.


Understanding what a personal breathalyzer test is and whether you should take it can be a complex issue, filled with legal subtleties and nuances. Fortunately, our trusted Fairfax DUI lawyer is here to provide clarity and guidance in this challenging situation. Remember, when in doubt, don't hesitate to reach out for professional legal advice. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry.

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