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Know the difference between a PAS device and a Breathalyzer

On Behalf of | Jul 15, 2023 | CRIMINAL LAW - Drunk Driving

When Maryland police make a traffic stop, they must have a legitimate reason for doing so. If, during the stop, a police officer suspects a driver of intoxication, various means may be used to determine if there is probable cause to make an arrest. One such means is to ask a driver to blow into a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device.  

This device is different from a chemical Breathalyzer test, which is administered after a DUI arrest has been made. Maryland’s implied consent laws state that a person must submit to a Breathalyzer upon request by a police officer after being taken into custody for suspected drunk driving. Failure to do so will result in an automatic driver’s license suspension. It is important to understand the difference between a PAS device and a Breathalyzer.  

A PAS device helps establish probable cause to make a DUI arrest 

A PAS device is a roadside breath test that detects alcohol on a person’s breath. If the device registers a positive result, a police officer can make a DUI arrest. A Breathalyzer test, on the other hand, is used to gather evidence after an arrest has already been made.  

PAS tests are often unreliable. For example, a person might register positive for alcohol after taking cough medicine or eating certain types of food. A driver is not obligated to take a roadside breath test with a PAS device. There are no administrative nor legal penalties for refusing. If legal problems arise regarding a PAS test or Breathalyzer, or any other issue associated with a DUI arrest, a defendant may seek guidance from a criminal defense attorney.