Oklahoma State Highway Patrol troopers are being given hand-held breath testing equipment to check for drunk drivers. Called a Preliminary Breath Test device, or PBT, an officer has a suspected intoxicated motorist breath into a plastic tube. The device then determines the blood alcohol level of the driver. If the equipment reveals a BAC above the legal limit the officer will then proceed with an Oklahoma DUI arrest.
The machine gives four responses; Pass, Alert, Failed and High. The Alert indicates a small presence of alcohol, Failed indicates a BAC of .08 to .149 and High reflects a BAC of .15 or higher. Under Oklahoma DUI law, the latter would qualify for charges of aggravated DUI. Prior to the issuance of the hand-held devices, State troopers would conduct field sobriety tests. A drunken driving suspect would then be taken to a county jail for booking and asked to submit to a breath test using the Intoxilyzer 8000. While the new device are approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as evidentiary breath testing equipment, the Highway Patrol will only use it to determine suspicion of driving under the influence, and still rely on an Intoxilyzer test for evidence that can be used in court.
The new equipment provides a lightweight, hand-held device that is easy and convenient to use in the field. Thirty-two of the $400 devices have been issued to Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers in Bryan County.
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