7 Important Things to Know About a Breath Test

You can find alcohol in the blood via an alcohol breath test. i.e., testing the amount of alcohol present in the air, you exhale. You can perform this test using various breath-testing devices, from handy roadside types like the Breathalyzer to large evidential devices in hospitals.

They can also be electronic or manual. The measured metric is the blood alcohol content, referred to as BAC. The higher your BAC, the less safe it is for you to be behind the wheel.

If you’ve undergone one, you’ll know the most common breath tests are the quick roadside ones used by police to determine a driver’s alcohol level using handheld devices.

If you’d like to know more, continue reading about some essential facts about a breath test.

Breath Tests Aren’t Always Accurate

Breath tests on the spot don’t always prove to be accurate. Like your mouth emits alcohol smells right after a drink, a breath test will show an inaccurate result even without you being drunk.

Taking certain substances such as mouthwash and breath fresheners about 15 minutes before a breath test will also show incorrect results. To offset errors, the officer takes two tests for verification.

Breath testing devices require calibration. A device that hasn’t undergone calibration is likely not working correctly and will display incorrect results.

Breath Tests Aren’t The First Option

7 Important Things to Know About a Breath Test

At a roadside screening, a breath test isn’t the go-to option. A screening device and process are used to test for impairment. If the results are positive, you can administer a breath test to a driver on the spot or at the police station.

The screening device takes about a minute to analyze and show results. If the driver fails, they are required to undergo an evidential breath test.

BAC Limit

The BAC (blood alcohol content) legal limit is 0.08%. If you take a breath test and your BAC is above the legal limit, you may get charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

The test is done about three or more times to avoid unnecessary charges to determine an average BAC. Sometimes breath testing devices may show wrong results due to the reasons in number 1.

Breath Tests Aren’t The Last Option, Either

Breath tests can be inconclusive on the first try. After a verification test and comparing, the driver can request a urine or blood test if the breath test cannot return solid evidence. This is done, of course, to prevent unnecessary charges.

The driver will then provide a sample of blood or urine, as the case may be. The officers can perform other tests to determine the alcohol level, even as simple as a roadside sobriety test.

Breath Tests Can Be Used As DUI Evidence

A DUI (driving under the influence) charge can be supported by presenting breath tests results as evidence. However, they aren’t the only evidence used, as they can be risky and lead to unnecessary charges.

Other tests can be presented in court, but a breath test can help immediately confirm an officer’s suspicions. Ultimately, a breath test won’t guarantee a conviction.

Breath Test Results Can Be Affected By These

As we’ve already observed, breath tests are not always accurate. In addition to that, your BAC can be affected by certain factors such as:

Gender. Men and women’s bodies process alcohol differently. Men’s bodies process it faster due to increased levels of the enzyme present, while it is slower in a woman’s body. Other factors, such as frequent hormonal changes in women, affect their BAC.

Weight. Weight affects the BAC as well. A heavier person will have more water in their body which dilutes alcohol even more.

How much food you had. If you’ve eaten just recently and have a full belly, it will slow alcohol processing.

How It Works

7 Important Things to Know About a Breath Test

Before performing a breath test, you must calibrate the device. This is done by testing a sample of the ambient air, followed by an air/ethanol standard sample.

After the device calibration, the driver provides two breath samples which are tested. Finally, an air standard check is retaken.

The results from the two samples are then compared. If they differ by more than 15%, it is recorded as an error. The driver is then asked to provide a urine or blood sample for further testing.

If the lower result of the breath samples is above the BAC limit, the driver can be prosecuted on DUI charges.

By following the information in this article, you can learn how to efficiently use, operate and know the ins and outs of how a breath test works.


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