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Non Contact Breathalyzer: What Is It?

19 September, 2023

A non-contact breathalyser with pass breath screen result

A non-contact breathalyzer is a device that measures a person’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) without requiring a blow pipe. One of the key advantages is its convenience. Users simply need to breathe within the device’s range, and the sensors will detect alcohol in the exhaled breath. This approach not only eliminates the need for direct contact but also provides quick and accurate results. In addition, it ensures hygienic testing, minimising the risk of contamination.

Breathalyzers have been an essential tool for regular alcohol consumers. It allows individuals to check their intoxication level and aid in making informed decisions. For instance, they can use it to monitor their alcohol consumption to prevent them from reaching the legal limit. Therefore, this helps reduce drink driving and its consequences. In this article, we will explore the functions of non-contact breath testers, their accuracy, and advantages.

What is a Non Contact Breathalyzer?

A non contact breathalyzer is a portable device used in various settings. It can detect the presence of alcohol in a person’s breath without requiring physical contact with the individual. It is often used by police officers in sobriety checkpoints, workplaces, and large venues with huge crowds like concert halls. Additionally, it can measure the BAC or amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream.

The device varies from traditional breathalyzers in terms of sample collection. In conventional testers, a person must blow into a mouthpiece. On the other hand, contactless breathalyzers use an attached sampling cup. It has a wide base where a person exhales closely. Then, it analyses the breath sample and delivers the results on the display screen.

A contactless breathalyzer typically performs passive mode or quick alcohol screening tests. It will determine if alcohol is present in the breath or not. If it detects alcohol, it will show Fail; otherwise, it will show Pass. In most cases, a failed result will require a follow-up active breath testing. This mode requires users to blow directly to the mouthpiece to measure the breath alcohol content.

Types

  • Preliminary breath testers: portable screening tools used by law enforcement units on the road to determine if a person is driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • Evidential breath test machines: large devices in police stations that measure the blood alcohol level of a person. It utilises infrared sensors to get precise readings. The results of the test are admissible in court.
  • Semiconductor breathalyzers: handheld devices that use metal oxide sensors. They are less expensive and suitable for personal use.
  • Fuel cell breathalyzers: devices using electrochemical sensors. It undergoes a chemical reaction process to generate a BAC reading with police-grade accuracy.

A police officer testing a driver for sobriety

Is a Non Contact Breathalyzer Accurate and Reliable?

Non-contact breathalyzers are generally accurate and reliable. The sensor technology can determine alcohol molecules in the breath and estimate their concentration. Moreover, the touch-free process ensures hygienic testing and minimises false readings. Hence, it prevents contamination from testing multiple users successively. Furthermore, if a result is positive, it requires active mode testing to verify the initial screen.

In active mode, the user will submit a new breath sample. Then, the breathalyzer will undergo an oxidation process to get an accurate measurement of the BAC. Therefore, the two-step process of alcohol breath testing ensures reliable results. However, several factors may influence the readings. For instance, if a breathalyzer shows zero BAC after passive test mode, it could be there was an interference in the sample collection process.

The accuracy of an alcohol breath analyser depends on its type and manufacturer. Some devices are sensitive to other substances like acetone, whereas some can detect low-level alcohol levels in the breath. Additionally, they should be regularly calibrated to ensure accuracy and reliability. Proper maintenance is essential to ensure the device is in good working condition.

Factors that may Influence the Result

Alcohol breathalyzer have limitations and factors that can affect the results. Firstly, environmental conditions can play a significant role. Temperature, humidity, and air quality can influence the breathalyzer readings. The presence of smoke, alcohol vapour, or strong winds can interfere with the breath sample. Secondly, individual factors, like certain medical conditions, may also influence the outcome.

Additionally, wrong operation and incorrect sampling techniques can impact accuracy. It is vital to follow the device instructions to minimise false positives or negatives. Lastly, the timing of the test plays a crucial role. Taking a breath test too soon may cause high BAC levels due to mouth alcohol.

A non-contact breathalyser with a carrying case

Advantages of a Non Contact Breathalyzer

A non-contact breathalyzer offers several benefits and advantages. One of the main advantages is the hygiene or sanitary factor. Since it does not need direct contact with a blow tube, it eliminates the risk of spreading germs or infections. This is favourable in public settings such as bars, restaurants, or workplaces.

Another benefit is convenience and ease of use. Individuals simply need to breathe near the device to detect alcohol. Moreover, the breathalyzer is ready to use after powering it on. After providing a sample, it will automatically analyse the breath and deliver the result. There is no need for additional procedures. Also, the device is portable, making it easy to carry around in remote locations.

Furthermore, it is cost-efficient. Due to non-contact breath alcohol testing, it minimises the need for mouthpieces. This is because active testing requires each person to use new attachments. With passive test mode, it only requires one sampling cup for all test takers. Therefore, it reduces screening time and the cost of maintenance, accessories, and replacement parts.

Response Time and Delivery Time

Breathalyzers are designed to give quick, reliable results compared to other testing methods like blood or urine. These devices utilise powerful sensors to examine the breath and give the results. Moreover, the overall testing process is complete in a few seconds to minutes. However, this depends on the type of device and its technology.

Most devices typically take 10 seconds to warm up and five seconds or longer for the air blow time. After the collection, the breathalyzer takes an additional 10 to 15 seconds response time. This method has the shortest delivery time compared to five minutes in urine and hours for blood.

Conclusion

Non-contact breathalyzers offer convenient and efficient tools for quick alcohol screening tests. It is used in various settings like workplaces, restaurants, roadside, and other public areas. Likewise, individuals may use it to monitor their blood alcohol concentration levels to ensure safe driving. It works by oxidising ethanol present in the breath to calculate the BAC. However, several factors may influence the results, including temperature, interfering substances, medical conditions, and device operation.

Moreover, these portable breathalyzers offer several advantages over other testing methods. It is a reliable and cost-efficient way of determining if a person is under the influence of alcohol. It also has user-friendly features and provides quick alcohol readings. Therefore, individuals or authorities can make informed decisions to manage risks and ensure safety. Overall, it promotes responsible alcohol consumption and reduces the dangers of drunk driving, workplace accidents, and alcohol-related health problems.

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