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Breathalyzer Research Paper

The standard Breathalyzer test estimates Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) from a breath sample. The Breathalyzer is claimed to be fast, portable, and reliant. That is why it is used by law enforcement and for personal use all around country. With this test being frequently used to determine drunk drivers, you can question whether or not it should be used as a valid and reliable survey device. This survey device has it’s strengths and weaknesses; some of which include flaws in detection to the easy accessibility and portability of the device.

Invented by Robert F. Borkenstein in 1954, devices that measure BAC levels from someone’s breath also appeared following its invention. Devices such as the Intoxilyzer, Intoximeter, Alcotest, Alco Sensor and Datamaster. The Breathalyzer and others alike has become one of the most standard alcohol breath tests. The Breathalyzer specifically, uses one of three technologies used for alcohol breath tests.

This technology is called Fuel cell technology in which an electrical current is produced as a result of a chemical reaction taking place on the surface of an electrode system, this electrical current is used to give a digital display, move a needle or trigger certain lights on the device, depending on the amount of alcohol detected. The sensor is very accurate and sensitive to alcohol, however, it does not read deep lung air very accurate and may produce a false positive if someone has recently drank alcohol and it is still present in the mouth.

There are many factors showing us that the Breathalyzer is very reliable and has the potential to produce accurate results in the event of it being used daily, nationwide. However, like many survey devices, flaws are present. One major flaw of the Breathalyzer are false positives. A false positive a test result which incorrectly indicates that a particular condition or attribute is present. Mouthwash, which contains about 27% alcohol can interfere with alcohol breath tests. In chewing gum, sugar substitutions can be used like sorbitol and menthol and also produces a false positive.

If someone throws up prior to taking a alcohol breath test, elevated mouth alcohol levels are present because of the contents in the stomach are aspirated. As well as burping because of gasses in the stomach. Others include breath sprays and cough syrups; diabetic medicine is also an interference, people on diabetics can have acetone levels hundreds or even thousands of times higher than other people. About 9. 3% of the population is diagnosed with diabetes. That’s about 29 million Americans.

Other factors that is a weakness, is the calibration of the Breathalyzer device, if an officer sets the machine incorrectly, he or she may arrest multiple people without trustworthy evidence. The portable Breathalyzer test is a machine that needs regular maintenance and upkeep to maintain its effectiveness. To add to the lengthy list of weaknesses is the ignition lock that uses a breathalyzer to test individual before they start their car. It requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece before starting a vehicle.

Even Googling ignition interlocks, immediately, I have found Youtube tutorials on how to bypass ignition interlocks. This shows how easily you can trick Breathalyzer tests for vehicles. You can use compressed air pumps to mimic your breath or ask a friend who has not been drinking to blow into the device for you. These ways of trickery are just too easy to attempt and be successful. As always, there are some strengths that can counter the many weaknesses. Professional Breathalyzers used by law enforcement are instant, highly accurate and successful.

This is because there is scientific research put into the making of the device that makes it so accurate. Using chemical compounds that uses a chemical reaction in the device to produce a color change and give an estimate of BAC. With modern technology being introduced in practically anything today, this can contribute to the accuracy of alcohol breath tests. Acetone, which painters can be exposed to, is at risk of interfering alcohol breath tests. However, with Electrochemical Fuel Cell technology in a Breathalyzer, it can not interfere with the test results because of how highly specific and sensitive it is to alcohol.

At the risk of measuring alcohol that is still present in the mouth, you are required by law enforcement to wait 20 minutes before you take an alcohol breath test. This measure has been taken in order to prevent a false positive. My outlook on the validity and reliability of a Breathalyzer is greatly influenced by amount of things that hinder the results of an alcohol breath test. People come in contact with these things everyday, in fact they’re probably included in their daily routine or is used daily to simply survive.

There are so numerous interfering factors factors that can interfere with an alcohol breath test. As a result of this, we are also at risk of being charged with a DUI when one may have not been drunk driving at all. As a solution, I have a few recommendations that may assist in preventing a false positive and one that may get you out of a sticky situation if you happen to find yourself in one. Technology growth today is substantial. We are producing drones, learning software for children, and more advances on our cellphones.

It makes me think how we cannot have any advances in the standard Breathalyzer test. There are other alcohol breath tests that are more accurate, but they are costly and not as a portable. There needs to be a more accurate test that can specifically pinpoint alcohol from alcoholic drinks; and also be portable and cost efficient. However, if this solution does not come soon enough, there is an option of getting a DUI lawyer. If you have been charged with a DUI and it has been a result of your medication, mouthwash, etc; it’s always best to back yourself up and get it professionally taken care of by a lawyer.

This was also a solution suggested by websites on false positive reads concerning Breathalyzer tests. In conclusion, the Breathalyzer test can be used as a moderately valid and reliable survey device. Although, it is portable and instant, there are many factors that can interfere with the result of the test. Flaws and strengths are still present and will be until further technological advances can be put into place. In the end, any alcohol breath test no matter how minimal it’s flaws could be, should be used in order to serve it’s true purpose; preventing drunk driving.

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