Medical Equipment Blog

How accurate is a breath alcohol test?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Breath alcohol tests are very accurate and are not easily cheated or beaten. In reality many police and law enforcement agencies have gone to the easy to use cylinder style, single use breath alcohol test kits since they are accurate and used in legal proceedings plus they are low cost and disposable after use. The breath alcohol tests can be used to test a variety of BAC levels starting at .02% percent and going up to the upper legal limit of 0.08%. Since law enforcement agencies, private individuals or even companies may want to test at lower levels, these kits are available as well. How soon after drinking can you test? Unlike drugs, alcohol goes almost directly into the bloodstream through the lining of the stomach. It does not need to be metabolized in the body to show up in a blood or breath test. Typically most people will feel the maximum amount of effect from alcohol approximately one hour after consumption, however for those having several drinks or eating a meal those times can be somewhat different. Testing using a breath alcohol test can occur anywhere after about 15 minutes from the last drink. These readings will be very accurate and can be used to determine if a person is intoxicated. It is important to note that people may have impaired motor skills and judgment even if their BAC is not at .08% and that they may still be deemed as driving impaired without that BAC. The ability to control the motor vehicle in a safe fashion is really the key determining factor in many cases. Why use a blow bag in a breath alcohol test? Some testers and individuals prefer to use a blow bag, which is really a balloon, then attach the balloon to the end of the tube and force the air through the tube by squeezing the balloon. This method ensures that the right volume of air is being pushed through the tube, which is not possible to measure if the person is blowing or seeming to blow into the tube. Theoretically a person that did not blow sufficient air through the tube may be able to affect the result of the breath alcohol test. Using the balloon is one option to control the test and provide more accuracy. However, if the test is being used by an individual themselves to determine their own BAC then a balloon is likely not necessary. Cheating the test would only give them an inaccurate reading, defeating the complete purpose of the test. How long does it take to get results from a breath alcohol test? Immediately upon blowing through the tube or using the blow bag option, the crystals within the breath alcohol test cylinder will begin to change color. If alcohol in a minimum level as determined by the calibration of the test is present, the crystals will turn the specified color within two minutes. Generally the color change does not require the full two minutes but it is important to wait for the full reaction in order to get an accurate reading.

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