The Difference In Penalties For Refusing An Intoxilyzer And A Portable Breathalyzer

Interviewer: What happens if they refuse either one of them, are their penalties different if you refuse a portable versus regular Intoxilyzer?

Matthew Nebeker: Yes, they are different.  You have no obligation to blow into or submit to the portable breath test, similar is the driver doesn’t have to do the standard field sobriety tests. However, when the officer asks the driver to take the chemical test, then that’s when the driver has to submit or there will be considered a refusal and they can have their license suspended for 18 months to 36 months depending on if it’s a first offense or a subsequent offense.

There are No Penalties for Refusing the Portable Breathalyzer Test in Utah

Interviewer: If they refuse to blow in the portable breath test, are they still subject to get their license removed or taken away?

Matthew Nebeker: Not for refusing to blow into the portable.  Nothing can happen to them as far as their license is concerned for refusing to blow into the portable.

Police Officers Administer Both the Portable Breathalyzer As Well As the Intoxilyzer Tests to Determine the Blood Alcohol Content

Interviewer: Why do they administer both of those?  Why the portable and then the Intoxilyzer?

Matthew Nebeker: The theory from law enforcement is that once the individual, the driver has completed the standard field sobriety tests, the officer can’t tell just from looking at their performance on those field sobriety tests if they’re under the influence of alcohol or some other drug, either a prescription or a street drug. What they say is, “I’m going to have them blow into this portable breath test.  And if it’s positive for alcohol, then I know what kind of substance I’m working with and I can just go and take them to the jail or take them to the police station and have them blow into the Intoxilyzer machine that will read the breath sample for alcohol”.

The Portable Breathalyzer is Used to Confirm Consumption of Alcohol

However, if they blow into the portable device and it reads negative, then the officer really should go and have the driver go through a drug recognition evaluation back at the station, and that’s by a trained individual, to see if they’re on any other type of drug like street drug or a prescription. So, basically that’s what it is.  The portable breath tester is confirming alcohol; if it’s not confirming alcohol, then they’re going to dig a little bit deeper, it’s called a DRE, Drug Recognition Evaluation, and then take a sample of the driver’s blood or urine to find out what’s in their system because if they have them blow into the Intoxilyzer, it’s going to blow 0 but for some reason, the officer felt that their performance on the standard field sobriety tests were poor so there’s something going on.  That’s the only reason that I know of that they use that for.

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