A breathalyzer is an alcohol test device that is used to determine a person’s blood alcohol content or BAC. The concept of a breathalyzer test was first invented in 1927 by scientist Emil Bogen. Bogen discovered that air that was captured inside of a leather bladder could be measured for alcohol particles.
Scientist William Duncan McNally perfected Bogen’s breathalyzer test invention and applied for the first patent of what most people now would recognize as a forerunner of the modern breathalyzer. The term Breathalyzer is actually a brand name for this test device. The “breathalyzer” is synonymous now with any handheld or ignition alcohol test device that measures a person’s BAC.
Law enforcement throughout the country began using breathalyzers to determine if people were consuming too much alcohol before driving in the 1960s. The breathalyzer test is now one of the most common methods used to test, apprehend, detain and legally punish people for being over the legal alcohol limit in public or while driving a vehicle.
While law enforcement officers typically use handheld alcohol breathalyzers, people can find and purchase different breathalyzer test models on the Internet. Judges many times order that repeat alcohol DUI offenders have their cars outfitted with ignition breathalyzer test switches. If the driver fails the alcohol breathalyzer test, the ignition will not start, preventing the person over the legal BAC from driving.
The result of an alcohol breathalyzer test are overwhelmingly accurate and based on widely accepted BAC test charts. As with any alcohol breathalyzer test that measures a person’s BAC, breathalyzers can be faulty and give inaccurate test results. It is important for people to know how to use a breathalyzer test properly to get the most accurate alcohol BAC readings.
Performing a Breathalyzer Test
Getting an accurate reading from a breathalyzer test requires that people know how to use the device properly. To get the best measure of your BAC, it is generally advised that you wait at least 20 minutes after you have consumed anything with alcohol in it. This amount of time will give your body the chance to absorb some of the alcohol and provide an accurate reading of your BAC.
Likewise, you should make sure that you use the breathalyzer in an area that is well-ventilated but not too windy. A room that is closed off or poorly ventilated could result in a higher BAC reading. A room that is too windy could result in your BAC levels being calculated as lower than what they actually are.
You should blow gently into the breathalyzer and give it several seconds to generate your BAC level. You should avoid blowing cigarette smoke, spit or other debris into the breathalyzer. Likewise, you should avoid using a breathalyzer after you have used mouthwash or taken a dose of cough syrup that has alcohol in it.
If the breathalyzer test does not give a reading within a few seconds, you should try it one more time to see if it can calculate your BAC level. While most breathalyzers are reliable and trustworthy, others can be defective or in need of new batteries. If your breathalyzer test does not appear to be working correctly, you should check its batteries or consider that it may be defective.
Test Factors in an Alcohol Breathalyzer Chart
The alcohol breathalyzer test chart used to determine your BAC will take into consideration factors like your age, gender, weight, and the number of drinks you have consumed. This breathalyzer chart allows these differences in alcohol consumption and test results because men and women tolerate alcohol differently and have different BAC levels even if they have consumed the same number of drinks and type of alcohol.
The breathalyzer test chart also indicates to law enforcement and the court system at what point you could face legal ramifications for drinking too much alcohol. Most people avoid having a high BAC if they just consume one or two drinks with alcohol in them. However, they start to have troubles with reflexes, thought processes and other functions that influence safe driving after they have consumed three or more drinks with some type of alcohol in them.
The breathalyzer test bases its BAC results on drinks that are commonly served in bars and restaurants. The types of alcohol drinks used for the BAC breathalyzer test include 1.25-ounce shots, 12-ounce beers and five ounces of wine per serving. If you are a man who weighs around 200 pounds, for instance, you can consume up to five 1.25 ounce alcohol drinks before your BAC reaches a point where you would fail a breathalyzer test.
Having a breathalyzer test chart available to you can help you prepare for a night of consuming alcohol at parties, bars, restaurants or elsewhere. You will know how much you can drink before you would fail a breathalyzer test if you were pulled over by law enforcement.
Test Factors that Influence Breathalyzer Levels
People react to alcohol in different ways, which is why one person’s breathalyzer BAC test results could be entirely different than those of another even if the two people consumed the same number and types of alcoholic drinks. To start, alcohol affects older people differently than people who are younger. The effects of alcohol are more pronounced in older individuals than they are in younger alcohol drinkers. People over 40 or 50, for instance, may fail a breathalyzer test and have higher BAC levels than their younger counterparts.
Likewise, women who drink alcohol often become more inebriated faster than men. Men have more enzymes in their stomachs to help break down and eliminate alcohol than women. Women who are given a BAC breathalyzer test may fail more readily because they lack the stomach enzymes to process alcohol quickly.
Other factors like combining the use of alcohol with cold or allergy medications or medicines used for depression and anxiety can increase your BAC level and cause you to fail an alcohol sobriety test. If you plan to consume alcohol while you are at a bar or restaurant, you could keep your BAC under the legal alcohol limit by eating food in addition to drinking alcohol. You also should wait for one hour per alcohol drink you consumed before driving. It takes your body one hour to eliminate one drink with alcohol in it.
What Happens after Failing an Alcohol Breathalyzer Test
When you fail an alcohol field sobriety breathalyzer test, the police have the right to place you under the arrest for having a BAC over the legal limit. After you are arrested, you may be taken to the police station where you will be processed and arraigned on a misdemeanor or felony BAC charge.
If you are not a repeat offender and have never before failed a breathalyzer test, the judge may allow you to pay a small fine and perhaps take an alcohol recovery class online or at a local test facility. However, if you are a repeat offender or your alcohol violation has caused loss of life or property, you could be sentenced to a lengthy jail or prison term.
Most states allow you to refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test in the field. However, your refusal may not prevent the officer from arresting you or you being charged with some type of motor vehicle violation. Once you are under arrest, you no longer have the right to refuse to undergo a BAC test.
Still, you can have your lawyer refuse the results of your breathalyzer test to make sure your BAC was really over the legal limit. Your attorney could order a new test or argue in court that the breathalyzer test was defective and not capable of giving an accurate BAC reading.
Using a Free Online Breathalyzer Calculator
You ideally never want to have to undergo a breathalyzer test or have your BAC tested by law enforcement. Still, you may not want to forgo consuming alcohol with your friends at bars and restaurants. Before you go out for a night of fun that may involve alcohol, you might want to find a free online breathalyzer calculator so you know how much alcohol you can drink before your BAC is over the legal limit.
Before you search online for a breathalyzer calculator, you should remember that your BAC will depend on factors like your gender, age, weight and how much you drink. You do not want a basic breathalyzer calculator that simply tells you what the legal alcohol limit is in each state before a police officer can perform a BAC test on you.
You want to use a breathalyzer calculator that will show you the BAC limit for each weight category, gender, age and number of drinks consumed. You can keep this alcohol test calculator on your phone or print it off and keep it in your pocket before going out that night.
Many people make the mistake of saying they know how much alcohol they can drink before they would fail a BAC breathalyzer test. Their assumptions often fail to consider details like how much food they have eaten, the strength of the alcohol drinks or other factors that influence BAC. Rather than risk failing a breathalyzer test, you can keep this breathalyzer calculator on hand to know how much alcohol you can drink on any given night.
Using a BAC Breathalyzer Correctly
As reliable as the typical BAC breathalyzer test is, it can give a bad blood alcohol reading if it is not used properly. Before using a breathalyzer test to find out your BAC, you should check the batteries in the breathalyzer itself. Most breathalyzer test devices need to have their batteries changed every few months to remain functional.
You also may want to ensure that the breathalyzer test device is relatively new and not an old breathalyzer that could have manufacturing defects. These defects make it unlikely that the test will be able to detect alcohol or give a good BAC reading. You want to use a new breathalyzer test or one that has been made in the last few years.
Next, you want to be sure that you or whoever is administering the blood alcohol test knows how to use the breathalyzer properly. You should avoid using it in a room that is closed off with no air ventilation. The breathalyzer test could give a BAC reading that is too high. Likewise, if there is too much air in the room, the BAC test reading could be too low.
The Legal Ramifications of Your Breathalyzer Results
All 50 states allow the test results of a field sobriety breathalyzer to be submitted as evidence of a person’s public intoxication or DUI. When your BAC breathalyzer results show that your own BAC was over the legal limit at the time of the test, the results can have long-lasting legal ramifications on your life. The severity of punishment you face because of failing a breathalyzer test can depend on the BAC test result as well as if you are a repeat DUI offender.
Many judges have little patience for people who attempt to drive with BAC levels that are exceedingly high. Even going slightly over the 0.08 BAC limit used by most states can result in you receiving an expensive DUI fine. You also may lose your driving privileges for up to 30 days after failing a breathalyzer test.
When your use of alcohol causes your BAC to be so high that you cause loss of life or property, you could be sentenced to jail or prison. You may not be sentenced to probation or BAC rehabilitation classes. Instead, you would serve out a prison or jail sentence to pay back society for not only failing a breathalyzer test but also causing harm to someone or something.
The breathalyzer test results are generally the same for every state. Most states use the same breathalyzer test charts and scales to determine the safest level of BAC for driving a car without posing a risk to the public.
Can You Contest an Alcohol Breathalyzer Test
While every state allows the test results of a breathalyzer to be submitted as court evidence, most states also allow defendants to contest their test results especially if they believe the breathalyzer or the officer conducting the test was in the wrong.
to contest your bac test results, you need to hire an attorney who is experienced in DUI law. this attorney will know how a breathalyzer should be administered and if your own test could possibly have been compromised and given a false bac result.
if you are successful in contesting the results of your alcohol field sobriety test, you could have the alcohol offense charges against you dropped or reduced. you also may have civil recourse to take against the city, county, or state that gave you the breathalyzer test.
Complying with a Police Breathalyzer Test
You do not have to agree to take a field sobriety test if you believe you have been wrongfully detained. Nonetheless, when you want to avoid being arrested and possibly being forced to give a urine or blood sample to test your BAC, you may choose to comply with the police breathalyzer test. Most police officers make the tests fast and simple with which to comply. You should follow the officer’s instructions if you have been pulled over on suspicion of driving after drinking alcohol.
The device will test for alcohol particles in your breath and then give a BAC reading to the police. Before you blow into the device, you should spit out your gum or put out your cigarette. Candy particles and tobacco smoke can skew your BAC reading and cause the device to say you drank more alcohol than you actually consumed.
Likewise, you should blow until the device emits a signal saying it has enough air to test. Most devices give BAC results in a matter of seconds. It can tell the officer if your blood alcohol reading is under the legal limit or if you are too drunk to drive.