An alcohol tester, more commonly known as a breathalyzer, is a piece of equipment designed to measure an individual’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) from a sample of their breath. The air expelled into the machine is tested to see whether traces of alcohol exist and if the saturation of alcohol is above the limit allowed by law. Not only can this sort of testing determine whether or not an individual has consumed alcohol, it can also give an indication if the person is considered legally intoxicated. Although research for testing the breath to determine alcoholic consumption began in the late 19th century, it wasn’t until 1938 that a device called the drunkometer was developed to test the breath of drivers either involved in accidents or found to be driving erratically.
There are numerous legitimate reasons why using an alcohol testing device can prove beneficial. Workplace safety is a primary consideration and many employers whose employees drive trucks or operate other heavy machinery implement breath testing on a random basis or whenever there is a question raised about an employee’s ability to safely drive or operate company equipment. Employees involved in any segment of the transportation industry, such as sea captains, long-distance truck drivers or airline personnel may also be required to submit to a test for the presence of alcohol in their breath upon request. On the homefront, a parent may want to determine whether or not a child who has been out partying or driving has been consuming alcohol. Certain individuals may have been mandated by court order after a driving while intoxicated conviction that they must use a breath testing device prior to getting behind the wheel of any vehicle. Law enforcement officers who patrol the streets and highways must often administer a breath test in order to determine if driving while intoxicated charges must be filed against a driver. Corrections officers in penal facilities as well as counselors at substance abuse recovery facilities also find it helpful to know how to use a breath testing unit in order to determine if an inmate or a patient has broken the rules regarding the use of alcoholic beverages.
A breathalyzer test works by measuring the amount of alcohol present in the bloodstream after it has passed through the lungs. The test subject blows into a mouthpiece which is attached to the testing unit in order for the BAC to be accurately measured. The newest and most accurate testers in the marketplace today are digital units that can show if an individual’s blood alcohol concentration is at .08 BAC or above, the legal limit in all 50 United States at which an individual is considered to be legally intoxicated. The sensors located in the testing unit must usually be recalibrated at least once every year in order for the unit to display an accurate reading.
Accuracy is among the most important features of any equipment being used to measure BAC levels because any reading above the legal limit can be used in court proceedings or in employee disciplinary actions. Depending upon the sophistication and features of the unit, a testing unit that measures alcoholic consumption can cost less than $100 or run into an investment of hundreds of dollars.