If you are stopped for a traffic violation and the officer suspects you of DUI, he or she might ask you to take a preliminary breath test (PBT). Can you refuse?

Under Illinois statute, if an officer has a reasonable suspicion to believe that you are driving under the influence, the officer may request that you take the PBT. An officer may use the PBT to determine whether to ask you to take further tests. However, you may refuse, and there are no penalties for refusing this particular test. (See People v Guiterrez.)

Whether you should refuse the field sobriety tests and/or a breathalyzer is a complicated matter. (See our related blog To Breathe or Not to Breathe: Taking the Breathalyzer.) Refusing the tests can make it harder for the state to convict you. However, there are penalties to refusing. For example, your driver’s license may be suspended for a much longer time period.

With the PBT, the results are generally not admissible in criminal court because of state certification requirements involving breathalyzer devices. However, if you are petitioning to rescind or undo the automatic suspension of your driver’s license, the results of the PBT can be used against you under limited circumstances. A petition to rescind is a civil matter and does not require the same standard of proof as a criminal matter.

If you are charged with DUI or other offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney may review your case for your best possible defense. If the police acted improperly, the attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence from any search. Even if this is not possible and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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