Breath Test vs Blood Test for Drugs and Alcohol

While blood testing is more invasive than breath tests and urine tests, it is the most accurate at identifying BAC levels. Typical blood tests for drugs and alcohol can show the same levels of BAC in the system a day after alcohol intake. Most companies and businesses have established workplace drug and alcohol testing policies. They would routinely conduct a blood test for drugs and alcohol detection. These tests differ depending on the State laws, company policy, and what substance needs identifying.

Breathalyser Vs. A Blood Test For Drugs And Alcohol

Aside form employers, officers also typically perform alcohol breath tests in roadside traffic stops. A breath test is easier to conduct and is a less invasive testing method compared to a blood test for drugs and alcohol. A breath test works by having the individual blow into the device, proving a sufficient breath sample. Furthermore, the breathalyser then evaluates and calculates the breath sample to test for alcohol usage, producing an instant result of accurate BAC levels. 

A blood test for drugs and alcohol involves a somewhat invasive collection process, the individual needs to undergo a blood draw. Once the blood sample is collected, it will need to be transported to a certified lab for analysis. This form of testing is typically used as a confirmatory test because of its accuracy. Furthermore, given its long processing time and its invasive nature, companies would rather use other forms of testing that may seem quicker.


Breathalysers Australia – BACtrack Products

Suppose you are considering conducting a breath test rather than a blood test for drugs and alcohol, then using a genuine BACtrack professional breathalyser is a perfect choice. Breathalysers Australia supplies highly reliable personal and workplace breathalyser units. If you require a compact, hand held and highly portable breath testing device rather than a wall-mounted one for your business, then a workplace breathalyser can be the best option. BACtrack offers professional models like the S80 Pro Gen2  if you need a workplace breath testing device. The professional models utilise fuel cell sensors that provide police-grade accuracy. Furthermore, the S80 Pro Gen2 provides no false positives, offering users frequent and accurate BAC readings. BACtrack professional breathalysers are AS3547 certified, so it is perfect for workplace testing.

Purpose of the Blood Test for Drugs and Alcohol

A blood test for drugs and alcohol determines if an individual has recently consumed alcohol. Alcohol detected in the blood may be analysed for varying purposes:

  • Workplace testing: Companies may conduct alcohol and drug screening for aspiring applicants, random drug testing for current employees or after a workplace accident. Industries like aviation, mining, construction and transportation have zero tolerance for alcohol in the workplace.
  • Legal testing: Using a blood test for drugs and alcohol during an investigation or legal matters. This kind of testing is typically for identifying underage drinking or monitoring an individual on parole.
  • Medical testing: Blood testing is essential for medical purposes.

The higher the blood alcohol content level, the more signs of intoxication will show. These impairments are:

  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired coordination
  • Easily distracted
  • Hard time concentrating
  • Minor breathing issues

Testing Accuracy

When you do an alcohol breath test, it calculates how much alcohol is present in your breath—determining the BAC or Blood Alcohol Content through this method. Furthermore, the alcohol present in the breath sample can help determine the alcohol present in the blood. However, breath tests are not entirely as accurate blood tests for drugs and alcohol (breath tests have a notably small margin for error). Blood tests for drugs and alcohol directly measure the amount of alcohol in the blood. While mistakes can occur with blood tests, they are more accurate than breath tests.

Understanding how alcohol is processed by the body and keeping track of BAC levels can help prevent over-intoxication and accidents. Additionally, knowing the dangers of alcohol consumption can also help avoid building tolerance, dependence and possible addiction. Just like a blood test for drugs and alcohol, breathalysers may also give inaccurate results. For example, improper handling and storage of the blood sample might cause inaccuracies. Breath tests can be affected by: 

  • Taking the test right after alcohol consumption – This might cause a false-negative result. Breathalysers Australia recommends waiting at least 15 minutes before performing the test to avoid this kind of error. Taking a breath test right after drinking may result in the unit giving inaccurate BAC results.
  • Not calibrating the device – Lack of recalibration may affect a device’s accuracy. The workplace devices from Breathalysers Australia, have long lasting sensors that only need recalibration once every 6 to 12 months (depending on usage).

Frequent Tests

Breathalysers must get serviced regularly and appropriately recalibrated to provide highly accurate readings. Employers who carry out the tests must strictly follow protocols. If conducting a blood test for drugs and alcohol seems difficult, a breath test can be the next reliable alternative. For example, the long process of a blood test may be difficult for companies that have plenty of employees. Companies can perform alcohol breath tests at a much faster rate when compared to blood tests. 


Is a blood test for drugs and alcohol more accurate than a breath test?

Blood tests for drugs and alcohol typically give more accurate results than breath testers. However results only vary by about 0.001%. The provided blood samples directly measure the exact alcohol content within the blood. Additionally, blood testing is less likely to be affected by environmental factors affecting the BAC results. However, it is worth noting that the breath testers from Breathalysers Australia mostly use fuel cell sensors. External environment factors cannot affect the accuracy of these sensors. Moreover, these sensors are only sensitive to ethyl alcohol, reducing the likelihood of false positive results. 

Workplace Policy

The duration in which drugs and alcohol are detectable depends on various factors and the tests used. Therefore, many companies have established a workplace drug and alcohol testing policy that includes the usage of specific tests on certain situations. This policy should be clear and include the procedures, terms, and repercussions. There are varying drug testing methods used depending on the goal of the test. These include testing:

Conducting a urine test is common for companies because it is easy and it can product quick results. Testing urine samples can detect most substances used within the past few days. For alcohol tests alone, a BACtrack workplace breathalyser unit from Breathalysers Australia is perfect for workplace testing. Breathalysers provide users easy access and instant BAC level results within seconds.

Factors That Affects Detection Window

  • Type of drugs used
  • Amount of drugs used
  • Frequency of use
  • Drug tolerance
  • Metabolic rate
  • The presence of other drugs or alcohol
  • Gender
  • Body Mass