Before And After An Arrest: Breath And Blood Testing

Before an Arrest- Preliminary Breath Tests (PBT) on the Roadside


If a Michigan driver is pulled over by a police officer and then investigated for drunk driving, they will often be asked to perform a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). This test is performed by the officer, using a handheld device, on the side of the road and typically before an arrest. Along with certain Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST), this is the most common way that officers attempt to determine if a driver is intoxicated.


PBTs are a less-accurate type of breath test commonly used on the roadside for a quick indication of breath-alcohol concentration (BAC). The driver breathes into the mouthpiece of a handheld device, which supposedlyanalyzes the breath and measures the amount of alcohol (ethanol) present in the driver’s body. The digital readout is provided on the handheld device. It is generally not admissible as evidence in court, but a PBT over the legal limit is grounds, in and of itself, for an arrest for OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) under Michigan law.  


Refusing the pre-arrest PBT on the roadside, before any arrest, is not a crime; instead, it is a civil infraction, like a speeding ticket, except there are no points attached to a pre-arrest refusal.


After an Arrest- Chemical Tests of Breath or Blood, and Implied Consent


However, refusing any requestedchemical test after your arrest will likely result in your driver’s license being suspended for a minimum of one year because Michigan has what is called an ‘Implied Consent’ law. In other words, the simple fact that you are driving on a road in Michigan means that you impliedly consent to submit to a post-arrest chemical test, assuming the officer has legal grounds for the initial stop and the arrest, and also assuming the officer reads the driver what are called the Chemical Test Rights.


The Chemical Test Rights tell you, among other things, that the results of any and all chemical tests could be used against you in court. Additionally, the officer should tell you that if you refuse to take the post-arrest chemical test, there will be consequences, including six (6) points on your driving record and a license suspension.


Under Michigan law, refusing to submit to a properly requested chemical test when an officer requests it is grounds for the arresting officer to seize your Michigan license and provide you with a temporary license. The officer will issue such a driver a 625g paper permit which they will be required to use in lieu of a license until the case is resolved in court.


If the driver was operating a vehicle other than a commercial motor vehicle, the Secretary of State (SOS) will suspend the person’s operator’s license or permit to drive, or nonresident operating privilege, for 1 year or, for a second or subsequent refusal within 7 years, for 2 years.


If you are pulled over in Michigan for suspected drunk driving, a person who may be intoxicated is generally better off to NOT TAKE a pre-arrest PBT as requested by the arresting officer, and instead let the officer issue you a ticket for refusing the PBT.


Always be polite and respectful when you speak to the officer. However, it is often not to your advantage to answer any questions about the kind of alcohol you drank, the time you consumed that alcohol, where you are coming from and going to, etc. Don’t provide any information besides routine booking questions such as name, address, etc, unless your attorney is present. If this means that you have to be politely silent for quite some time until you are booked and then allowed to contact your lawyer, then so be it. Don’t answer questions, don’t explain yourself, and don’t argue with the officer. Simply wait quietly until we get there.


Once an experienced drunk driving defense attorney is by your side, you’re in good hands. You can safely explain everything to your attorney, and rest assured that you will be receiving the best possible legal counsel and representation available. So call us today at 866 766 5245. We are here to help, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.