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How Accurate is a Blood Alcohol Drug Test?

An alcohol test determines the alcohol level or concentration in the blood. The most practical way of screening alcohol is through a breath test or breathalyser device. It can identify the intoxication level right away by analysing the breath sample. In particular, you may see people use a breathalyser to check their blood alcohol content (BAC) while consuming alcohol. It helps monitor the alcohol level from going over Australia’s legal limit (0.05% BAC). Additionally, police officers mainly conduct alcohol breath tests in roadside screenings to check if a person has a dangerous BAC level while driving. The person gives a blow into the device, and it will display the BAC results within seconds. While a breathalyser test produces fast results, a blood alcohol drug test can offer more accurate findings.

What is a Blood Alcohol Drug Test

When we consume alcohol, the body absorbs it and distributes it to different organs through the bloodstream. You can feel the alcohol effects within minutes, affecting your senses and motor functions. In addition, alcohol stays in the body for a certain period. The portions of alcohol leave the body where several testing procedures can detect them. For example, you may check the alcohol level through the breath, blood, urine, hair, or saliva. In particular, a blood alcohol drug test takes a blood sample to measure the exact alcohol concentration in a person. A blood test also detects illicit substances use. A licensed professional uses a needle to extract blood from the vein in the arms for examination.

Blood Alcohol Drug Test Accuracy

The blood alcohol drug test examines the amount of alcohol present. It can detect alcohol for 6 to 12 hours from last consumption. On average, the BAC level reaches the highest level after one hour on an empty stomach. However, many factors can influence the BAC, such as age, weight, gender, body fat distribution, metabolism rate, and food intake. Since the body breaks down alcohol at a steady pace, the time between consumption and testing matters. 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. The laboratory test types for recent and long-term alcohol ingestion are:

  • Blood alcohol content (BAC)
  • Ethyl glucuronide (EtG)
  • Ethyl sulfate (EtS)
  • Carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT)
  • Phosphatidylethanol (PEth)

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Applications of Blood Alcohol Test

Even though a blood alcohol drug test is the most accurate, it is also the most invasive. That is why its use is limited to certain circumstances. Laboratory testing is appropriate for measuring alcohol content when an initial test shows positive results. For example, if a breathalyser shows a BAC, a blood test is used to confirm or get the exact blood alcohol level. In particular, a positive BAC indicates alcohol use, while a negative result means that alcohol was not consumed or did not meet the cutoff value. The blood alcohol drug test is appropriate for the following reasons:

  • Legal – Police officers will request a blood test if your BAC level during a roadside screening reaches the legal limit. The test result can be used as evidence in court for drink driving. You may refuse a blood sample test, but it has legal consequences.
  • Workplace or road accidents – A blood test is appropriate to determine if alcohol contributed to the incident. The timing of the test is crucial to get the exact BAC. 
  • Alcohol poisoning – Follow up testing when a patient consumes a large amount of alcohol in a short time. Alcohol poisoning leads to seizures, vomiting, irregular breathing, and unconsciousness. 
  • Workplace policy – A workplace with an alcohol policy tests employees to minimise accidents and maintain safety. 

Breath vs Blood Alcohol Drug Test

Consuming excessive alcohol amounts lead to severe impairment. For instance, a high BAC level causes blurry vision, slurred speech, mental confusion, slow reflexes, and poor coordination and balance. As a result, reduced abilities pose a high safety risk in driving or working. In particular, safety-critical industries like mining, construction, transportation, and manufacturing depend on workers’ alertness to perform tasks effectively. Therefore, they implement a zero-alcohol policy to avoid alcohol-related accidents. Through an alcohol breath test, you can know the BAC level immediately. A breathalyser like BACtrack is cost-efficient to monitor the blood alcohol level. It is also the least intrusive method for screening alcohol. In contrast, a blood alcohol drug test is invasive and time-consuming. 

A blood alcohol drug test needs a professional to administer test. The blood sample goes through a laboratory examination to determine the BAC. However, anyone can operate a breathalyser. Nowadays, most workplaces have a breathalyser on hand to monitor sobriety. In particular, the BACtrack testers from Breathalysers Australia process the breath sample and deliver the BAC results in 10 to 15 seconds. The BACtrack breathalysers have a one-touch operation making them easy and efficient to use. Moreover, a breathalyser can detect alcohol 12 to 24 hours from last consumption. For instance, you can request a breath test if an employee shows symptoms of impairment. Likewise, police officers use breathalysers to apprehend intoxicated drivers.

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BACtrack breathalysers: Reliable Alcohol Test

Alcohol impairment is one of the leading causes of workplace accidents and road crashes. Fortunately, alcohol-related accidents are preventable through consistent monitoring of the alcohol level. A blood alcohol drug test provides complete analysis, but they are not easily accessible. Meanwhile, you can check the BAC level any time using a breathalyser. In particular, a workplace can benefit from using a breathalyser to monitor sobriety and manage risks effectively. Most BACtrack breathalysers use fuel cell sensor technology to determine the BAC level accurately. Fuel cell sensors oxidise alcohol in the breath to produce a chemical reaction. The more alcohol that is oxidised, the greater the electrical currents generated. As a result, the number of electrical currents corresponds with the alcohol level in the blood. In addition, they are sensitive to ethanol and do not react with other substances. Therefore, they are least likely to produce false-positive results. 

Alcohol Testers at Breathalysers Australia

The blood alcohol drug test and breath test are both effective in measuring the alcohol level of a person. However, if you want a quick BAC check, the BACtrack breathalyser is more convenient. Many companies use the BACtrack professional breathalysers to keep the workplace safe and healthy at all times. Breathalysers Australia offers comprehensive alcohol testers suitable for personal or professional purposes. The keychain and smartphone breathalysers are ideal for low to medium level applications. In particular, the BACtrack smartphone breathalysers have Bluetooth capability to connect to an app. Through the BACtrack companion app, you can view your BAC results directly on your smartphone. You may also use the BACtrack ZeroLine technology to estimate how long your BAC will return to 0.00%. Lastly, the BACtrack Pro series can give consistent BAC readings in high-volume testing.