Modern breathalyzers police use are small and portable and have the most advanced sensors to measure blood alcohol content (BAC). Law enforcement uses fuel cell breathalyzers for roadside screenings to accurately get the BAC on potentially intoxicated drivers. The development of modern breathalyzers is vital in that it radically helped shape drink driving laws in Australia. However, do you know when was the breathalyzer first used by police? Modern breathalyzers like BACtrack devices have come a long way since their development by a forensic scientist, Professor Robert Borkenstein, in 1954.
When was the breathalyzer first used by police? Alcohol-impaired driving was already a problem even before the invention of breathalyzers or breath testing devices. Police officers have to use subjective observations to test if the driver is under the influence of alcohol. These tests are known today as the field sobriety tests. It includes checking the drivers for their bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, and asking them to walk in a straight line. In 1931, Professor Rolla Neil Harger developed the first out-of-lab breath testing device known as The Drunkometer.
When was the Breathalyzer First Used by Police: How it Came to Be
The Drunkometer was the first practical breath testing device used by police for roadside testing. The Drunkometer collects the breath sample directly into a balloon inside the machine. It uses an acidified potassium permanganate solution to react with alcohol. The solution changes colour if there is alcohol in the breath. However, this model relies only on colour change to confirm alcohol presence and lacks the quantitative scale needed in determining exact alcohol levels. Subsequent inventions followed, like The Intoximeter and The Alcometer in 1941. The three were the first-generation breathalyzers used by law enforcement. Finally, when was the breathalyzer first used by police in modern times? In 1954, Professor Robert Borkenstein of Indiana State Police worked with Harger and invented the second-generation breath testing device known today as the breathalyzer. These devices help influence the creation of personal devices like BACtrack personal breathalyzers.
Borkenstein’s breathalyzer used chemical oxidation and photometry to determine alcohol concentrations. The breathalyzer contains potassium dichromate to react with the alcohol and quantifies the concentration in the breath known as the BAC. With that question answered, people here ask: when was the breathalyzer first used by police in Australia? Random breath testing started in 1982. It can help minimize road accidents by testing suspected drunk drivers of their BAC. Roadside testing and penalties also encourage people to consume alcohol moderately. Breathalyzers today, like the BACtrack Pro series, use fuel cell sensors to get the precise BAC level. As a result, they have the same efficiency and accuracy as a police officer’s breathalyzer. Professional grade breathalyzers are also more affordable and ready for personal use.