Excessive alcohol consumption leads to many harmful effects on health and safety. The use of alcohol is often associated with the hazards of driving or working with heavy equipment. Depending on the amount, alcohol can affect body functions and cognition. Even a tiny amount impacts the perception and coordination necessary for safe driving. As such, checking the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is vital in minimising the risks of road accidents. Most people are familiar with breath tests to measure the alcohol level. However, another method to determine the BAC is an alcohol screening blood test. A blood test uses a blood sample to detect alcohol in the body.
A blood test and breath test detects alcohol through different means. An alcohol screening blood test examines the blood for the presence of alcohol. Meanwhile, a breath test determines the BAC through the breath sample. Both procedures effectively identify alcohol use and the concentration in the body. For instance, it is standard procedure for law enforcers to survey the roads for signs of impaired driving. If police suspect you of DUI driving, they will ask you to perform sobriety tests to assess your intoxication level. An efficient method to screen for alcohol is through a breathalyser test. A breathalyser device processes the breath sample to check for alcohol. If alcohol is present, they will ask you to take a confirmatory test at a police station.
Alcohol Screening Blood Test: Different Types
An alcohol screening blood test can measure the amount of alcohol (ethanol), biomarkers, or metabolites. It is the most accurate type of alcohol test because it measures ethanol directly from the blood. When we ingest alcohol, it passes from the stomach to the small intestines and the bloodstream. Then, the body rapidly absorbs alcohol and distributes it to different organs through the blood. The effects can be apparent within minutes of consumption. Laboratory testing can detect alcohol through several biomarkers with their corresponding detection window:
- Blood alcohol content (BAC) – 6 to 12 hours
- Carbohydrate-Deficient Transferrin (CDT) – 2 to 3 weeks
- Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) – 1 to 2 weeks or longer
- Ethyl Glucuronide/Ethyl Sulfate (EtG/EtS) – Up to 80 hours
Breath tests calculate the amount of alcohol in exhaled breath to measure the BAC. It is because the amount of alcohol in the breath is proportional to the alcohol concentration in the blood. In line with this, a breathalyser uses semiconductor or fuel cell sensors to estimate the BAC level. In particular, fuel cell sensors relies on an electrochemical process to oxidise alcohol in the breath. The oxidisation produces electrical currents corresponding to the volume of alcohol. As a result, the device measures the number of electrical currents and translates it into BAC. Moreover, breath tests are least intrusive than alcohol screening blood tests. Whereas a blood test uses needles to get a sample, the breathalyser only needs an exhaled breath to confirm alcohol use.
Conducting a breath test is quicker than an alcohol screening blood test. For instance, the BACtrack breathalysers analyse the sample breath and deliver the BAC results in 10 to 15 seconds. Therefore, they are more appropriate for use in roadside screenings. Additionally, most BACtrack breathalysers employ fuel cell sensors to determine the BAC accurately. Fuel cell breathalysers are sensitive to ethanol and do not react with other substances. As a result, they provide more accurate BAC results than a standard semiconductor breathalyser. Breathalysers Australia offers a wide array of alcohol breath testers to help monitor the BAC level during alcohol consumption.
When to Conduct an Alcohol Screening Blood Test
The blood test is the most invasive of all tests. Therefore, there are limited situations in which a blood sample is required. An alcohol screening blood test is necessary to determine the exact blood alcohol level. It confirms the actual amount of alcohol in a person following a preliminary examination. For instance, if you have a positive BAC in a roadside screening, police ask you to take a sample blood test. Consequently, the court can charge you with drink driving violations if your blood test results show a high BAC level. In particular, the legal alcohol limit in Australia is 0.05% BAC. So, if you drive with a high BAC, you can face legal consequences like fines, imprisonment, suspension, or alcohol interlock. Furthermore, only a licensed professional can administer an alcohol screening blood test.
Other circumstances where an alcohol screening blood test is appropriate is during an accident. A blood test gives more information than a breath or urine test. In addition, it is critical in finding out if alcohol or illicit substances contributed to the accident. Similarly, workplace testings conduct a blood test to identify alcohol and substance abuse. Specifically, safety-regulated industries like mining, construction, and transportation rely on alcohol screening tests to minimise work hazards. In addition, there are many kinds of workplace testing to detect alcohol impairment at work:
- Random or scheduled test
- Post-incident test
- Pre-employment test
- Reasonable suspicion test
- Post-treatment or recovery test
Alcohol Screening Blood Test Vs Breath test
Using a breathalyser is more quick and efficient than an alcohol screening blood test. Unlike a blood test, anyone can operate a breathalyser to check the BAC level. In addition, an alcohol screening blood test is accurate within 6 to 12 hours from last consumption. On the other hand, a breathalyser can detect alcohol for up to 12 to 24 hours. Moreover, many factors affect the BAC, such as age, weight, gender, body fat, metabolism rate and type of drinks. Therefore, knowing how different alcoholic beverages affect your BAC is critical in moderating your consumption.
BACtrack Breathalysers: Reliable Breath Tests
A breathalyser device is a cost-efficient method to monitor your alcohol level. In addition, breathalysers are highly portable, easy to use, and more accessible than an alcohol screening blood test. In line with this, the BACtrack breathalysers are ideal devices to help you limit your alcohol intake. Using a breathalyser lets you monitor the increase of your BAC to make informed decisions. So if you see your BAC nears the legal limit, you can decide to slow down or stop alcohol intake. Furthermore, the fuel cell breathalysers have police-grade accuracy, the same technology you can find in a police officer’s breathalyser.
Breathalysers Australia has a comprehensive selection of BACtrack breathalysers suitable for your needs. If you need a simple alcohol screening device, the keychain alcohol testers may suit you best. They are the lightest breathalysers ideal for personal or home use. On the other hand, the BACtrack smartphone breathalysers let you view your BAC directly on your phone. The BACtrack Mobile Pro or C8 Smartphone connects to an app via Bluetooth. In addition, the BACtrack’s ZeroLone technology quickly estimates when your BAC will return to 0.00%. An alcohol screening blood test or breath test can help prevent drink driving risks and other accidents.