Evidential Breathalyzer: What It Is, How To Use, and Accuracy of Results
21 November, 2023
An evidential breathalyzer is a device that is capable of being used in court to provide proof of the concentration of alcohol. Accordingly, the unit is easy to use. The conductor just needs to open the device, let the candidate blow in the mouthpiece, and wait for the unit to display the result. Nevertheless, the accuracy of the outcome depends on factors such as calibration, environmental factors, and user error.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and drink driving represent serious concerns. They pose risks to people and the community as a whole. Thus, it is important to address these issues through prevention. Fortunately, authorities have developed a testing measure to combat the issue: alcohol screening devices. This plays a crucial role in ensuring public safety and accurate results. The following section will present the device, including how to use it and the accuracy of results.
What is an Evidential Breathalyzer
The evidential breathalyzer is a tool to measure the level of alcohol in the breath of a person. It is known as evidential because the results can be used as evidence or proof in court. Accordingly, this type of unit is crucial for legal purposes. The results of the breathalyzer test may have significant implications for legal proceedings, particularly in cases related to impaired driving.
Evidential devices use a technology known as infrared spectroscopy or fuel cell technology to analyse the breath sample. Infrared spectroscopy works by capturing a sample of the breath of a person and using infrared light to analyse its composition. When alcohol molecules are present in the sample, they absorb specific wavelengths of infrared light.
On the other hand, fuel cell technology operates by generating a chemical reaction between the ethyl alcohol in the breath sample and the fuel cell. This reaction produces electrical currents, the strength of which is directly proportional to the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Both of these technologies are highly accurate and can detect even very small amounts of alcohol in the breath.
Standout Features of the Device
- Accuracy – the device uses advanced technology to measure the blood alcohol level in the breath of a person precisely.
- Portability and ease of use – law enforcement officers can carry the device with them and quickly administer the breath test. Also, it is user-friendly, allowing for efficient and reliable testing.
- Built-in safeguards – this is to prevent tampering and misuse. It is designed to detect any attempts to trick or manipulate the results. This ensures the integrity of the testing process.
- Digital display – it provides immediate results, allowing police officers to make decisions on the spot. This real-time feedback allows for prompt actions.
How to Use an Evidential Breathalyzer
Operating an evidential breathalyzer requires a simple process. Firstly, the user needs to turn on the device by pressing the power button. Once the unit is on, wait for the sensors to warm up. This usually takes a few seconds to a minute.
Individuals should ensure that there is no residual mouth alcohol. It is vital not to consume alcohol, smoke, or use a mouthwash within at least 15 minutes prior to taking the test. When the device is ready, the user should take a deep breath and then exhale steadily into the mouthpiece of the unit. It is important to exhale continuously and steadily for the entire breath sample.
After the user exhales into the breath alcohol device, they should wait for it to process the sample of breath and provide a result. This usually takes a few seconds. The device will display the BAC result on the screen. If the BAC is within the legal limit, the user is safe to drive or do a specific task.
Guidelines and Considerations When Testing
Before administering a breathalyzer test, the police officer should ensure that the device is in proper working condition. This involves checking the device for any damage or malfunctions and calibration. Subsequently, the candidate for testing should be given clear and concise instructions on how to blow into the device properly.
Additionally, the police officer should closely observe the individual to ensure they do not ingest anything. This includes food, drink, or substances that could interfere with the alcohol testing results. Nevertheless, it is important for the person to blow steadily and continuously into the breath tester.
Accuracy and Reliability of Results of an Evidential Breathalyzer
The accuracy and reliability of evidential breathalyzer results are crucial for enforcing laws related to alcohol impairment. Firstly, the device must be regularly calibrated according to the guidelines of the manufacturer. This ensures that the unit is measuring alcohol content accurately. Secondly, law enforcement agencies should have procedures in place. This is to avoid any malfunctions and inaccuracies.
Thirdly, police officers responsible for administering preliminary breath tests should receive comprehensive training on how to use the device properly. This includes understanding the correct procedures for conducting tests and interpreting results. Another is that there should be protocols for administering breath tests. This helps to minimise variability in testing procedures across different officers and departments.
Furthermore, the testing environment should be free from any substances or conditions that could interfere with the accuracy of the testing. The collection of breath samples should accurately represent the alcohol content in the system of the person. Clear instructions and proper technique for blowing into the device help ensure the validity of the sample.
Is There a Possibility of a False Positive
While the results of the unit can be useful in court, there is still a chance for a false positive. Residual alcohol in the mouth can lead to a false positive result. This can happen if the person has recently consumed alcohol or a mouthwash. Also, certain medical conditions, such as acid reflux or diabetes, can affect the accuracy of the testing.
If the breath alcohol device is not properly recalibrated or the operator does not follow the correct testing procedures, it can lead to inaccurate results. Environmental factors such as chemicals, fumes, or contaminants in the testing environment can interfere with reading.
The evidential breathalyzer is a valuable tool in law enforcement for detecting and measuring alcohol impairment. This unit is unique as it is permissible in court as evidence. Accordingly, it uses reliable sensors such as infrared or fuel cell technology. As a result, it can detect even the smallest amounts of ethanol. The testing is easy to administer. One just needs to turn on the device, blow in the mouthpiece, and wait for the BAC results.
The device provides standout features. It includes accuracy, portability, ease of use, built-in safeguards, and screen displays. Nevertheless, the accuracy and reliability of the testing depends on various factors. This may involve the calibration, procedures, training, protocols, the testing environment, and sample collection procedures. While the method is beneficial in court, there may be a possibility of errors. Thus, one may need to conduct blood, saliva, urine, or hair testing.