Preliminary Breath Test Logs Strike Again

Carroll, Carroll County, Iowa.  A commercial vehicle driver’s driving privileges were spared and the Operating While Intoxicated accusation was dismissed outright after it was discovered that the preliminary breath test (PBT) log did not comply with Iowa requirements.

A preliminary breath test device is the breath test that law enforcement requests out on the road, prior to making a decision to bring a driver in for further testing.  It does not have all of the built-in safeguards that the DataMaster breath test has at the station.  Because of what the court has described as “inherent unreliability” of the PBT, law enforcement is required to conduct monthly accuracy checks and/or calibrations of the devices and maintain a log documenting that the accuracy check and/or calibration was conducted as well as other important information related to the calibration solution used to check the machine.  Failure of the law enforcement agency to comply with these requirements can render the PBT result unusable in the OWI investigative process.

In this case, the County Attorney and Deputy both honestly and admirably conceded that the PBT calibration log did not comply with the updated requirements.  Because there was not other legal basis to invoke implied consent and force the driver’s decision on the breath test at the station, the judge excluded the breath test result.  A hard working commercial driver’s livelihood was spared and all charges were dismissed.  As the County Attorney said, he always wins: “guilty or not guilty – it’s called justice.”  It is refreshing to work with prosecutors and law enforcement officers who care more about justice being accomplished than another notch in a statistic column.