Breath Testing Machines: General Overview
08 September, 2023
Breath testing machines, or breathalysers, are essential tools for law enforcement and organisations to ensure public safety. It has also become in demand for regular alcohol consumers. It is a portable device that examines the breath sample to estimate the blood alcohol levels. Moreover, there are various types of devices depending on the sensor type, accuracy level and uses. They are easy to use and can give reliable results. However, users must follow the guidelines for accuracy.
When a person consumes alcohol, a small portion passes from the stomach to the bloodstream. The blood distributes the alcohol molecules to different vital organs, including the lungs. Then, it vapourises in the lungs and passes out when a person exhales. A breath tester detects this vapour and calculates the concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream. This article will present the functions of these devices, different types, and operation guidelines.
What Are Breath Testing Machines?
Breath testing machines are instruments that measure the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). The BAC is the amount of alcohol in a person’s system. The higher the BAC level, the more severe the impairment. These devices utilise sensor technology to detect the alcohol vapour in a person’s breath and measure its concentration.
The breathalyser sensors undergo a chemical reaction process to calculate the BAC. Typically, they are handheld and portable, making it easy to conduct alcohol testing anywhere. Law enforcement uses it to check for drivers’ alcohol levels. Large evidential breath testers are also found in police stations. The result of this device is admissible in court.
The accuracy of the device depends on the sensitivity of the sensor and the operation. For example, an advanced fuel cell technology can detect traces of alcohol at a wider BAC range. Moreover, they require periodic recalibration to maintain their performance or accuracy. This is due to the potential of the sensors to drift over time, which affects the readings.
Types of Breath Testers
- Semiconductor breathalyser: it uses a metal oxide sensor that measures alcohol in the breath through a reaction change. The device measures the change in electrical resistance and converts it into a BAC value.
- Fuel cell breathalyser: the device uses a platinum fuel cell that generates an electric current when alcohol in the breath reacts with it. It is less prone to interference, such as acetone in the breath.
- Infrared spectrophotometer: an evidential device using infrared cells to measure the absorption of alcohol molecules. It provides highly accurate results and is more expensive. This device is used in police stations.
Purpose of Using Breath Testing Machines
The use of breath testing machines serves various purposes. Firstly, it helps maintain road safety. Police officers use handheld breath testing equipment to check drivers’ alcohol content. The test may be mandatory at sobriety checkpoints, random, or when there is a reasonable suspicion a person is impaired while driving. An individual may face drink driving charges if they exceed the legal limit of 0.05% BAC.
Secondly, it helps protect employee safety and well-being. Organisations use a workplace breath alcohol tester to monitor alcohol impairments. This helps prevent accidents and injuries as employers are able to identify workers who are under the influence of alcohol. Regular breath testing also serves as a deterrent against potential alcohol abuse.
Lastly, people may use a breathalyser for personal reasons. There are pocket-sized devices that offer a quick and efficient way to measure alcohol levels. This helps individuals manage their alcohol intake to keep their BAC below the legal limit. Likewise, people may use it to check their BAC before driving. In this way, they can avoid the hazards of drink driving.
Benefits of Conducting Breath Tests
Conducting breath tests has several benefits, both from a legal and safety standpoint. It helps determine if a person is intoxicated while driving. Police officers conduct this test to get an objective assessment of a person’s BAC level. Furthermore, the device is non-invasive and gives immediate results.
Breath tests also help ensure safety in private and public settings. It helps individuals and organisations make informed decisions. High-risk industries include this procedure in their workplace testing program because it can detect a person’s alcohol level quickly and accurately. Lastly, conducting breath tests is more cost-effective and efficient than traditional blood tests.
Operation Guidelines of Breath Testing Machines
Operating a breath testing machine is easy. Most devices come with a one-touch button for taking a breath sample. To use the machine, simply press the power button and wait a few seconds for the sensors to warm up. At the start signal, blow steadily to the mouthpiece for five seconds or until the beeping sound stops.
After providing a sample, the device processes the breath and displays the BAC result on the screen. It has a fast response time, usually 10 to 15 seconds, making it one of the fastest methods for testing the blood alcohol content. When done, turn off the device and store it in a safe place.
When using a smartphone breathalyser, the device will automatically send the BAC data to the app via Bluetooth. The user has the option to store the results for tracking purposes. Additionally, it is vital not to expose the sensors to strong odours or fumes to keep them functioning optimally. Always clean the mouthpiece before and after each use.
Reading the BAC Results
Breathalysers measure the breath alcohol content in grams of alcohol. Then, it displays the BAC in percentage, indicating the ratio of alcohol to blood volume. It is the unit of measurement that law enforcement uses in screening for alcohol. For example, a 0.05% BAC means 0.05 grams of alcohol for every 100 ml of blood or 2100 ml of breath.
Having a 0.05% BAC or above means a person is legally intoxicated. Moreover, to get an accurate reading, it is important to wait at least 15 minutes after drinking or eating before testing. This allows sufficient time for alcohol to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Breath testing machines are an effective and convenient way to measure a person’s BAC or degree of intoxication. There are different types of devices according to the sensors or uses. A personal breathalyser is useful in managing alcohol consumption. Individuals may use it to monitor their BAC from reaching the legal limit. Similarly, workplaces use a professional breathalyser with advanced fuel cell technology to get the most accurate results. Employers use them to maintain an alcohol-free environment.
Using a breathalyser is simple and straightforward. Devices like the BACtrack from Breathalysers New Zealand, have a one-touch button for easy operation. Furthermore, they are non-invasive and provide immediate results. Hence, this enables individuals and organisations to make informed decisions. Finally, it is vital to follow the breath test guidelines to ensure the accuracy of the results. Overall, being aware of the BAC helps prevent alcohol-related hazards, such as accidents, health risks, and legal consequences.