What is preliminary alcohol screening?

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2023 | DWI Defense

A preliminary alcohol screening is a roadside test administered by law enforcement officers to individuals suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. It’s a vital tool used to gauge whether a driver’s blood alcohol concentration is above the legal limit, providing immediate insight into the driver’s level of intoxication. The test is typically performed with a handheld breath test device.

The PAS test is usually one of the first steps during a DUI stop. If a law enforcement officer observes signs of impaired driving, such as erratic driving behavior or the smell of alcohol, they may request the driver to participate in the screening.

Understanding the PAS test

The preliminary alcohol screening test uses a breath test, which measures the alcohol content in the driver’s breath. The driver is asked to blow into a mouthpiece, and the device calculates the BAC based on the breath sample. Typically, a reading of 0.08% or higher can lead to an arrest for DUI.

Relationship with other DUI tests

The PAS test is often just one part of a series of sobriety tests that might be administered during a DUI stop. Other tests could include field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand. Additionally, if the PAS test indicates a BAC above the legal limit, the driver might be arrested and required to take a more formal blood or breath test at the police station.

Drivers need to be aware of their rights and the laws in their jurisdiction regarding the PAS test. If arrested for DUI, working on a defense strategy quickly is imperative. Certain options related to the case might be time sensitive. 

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