Things You Should Know About Breathalysers

Things You Should Know About Breathalysers

With the holiday season round the corner here in Australia, most people are already planning their celebrations. However, these are also the times that witness a spike in drink driving charges, accidents and road fatalities. Owing to the strict drink driving laws in Australia, things could easily take an ugly turn if you’re not aware of the accepted blood alcohol limits while driving. One of the best ways to stay in control and to remain on top of these concerns is using a breathalyser.

But, what exactly does a breathalyser do? It measures the alcohol concentration in your breath, which reveals the amount of alcohol concentration in your blood. Once you consume alcohol, it gets absorbed into your body and eventually enters your bloodstream. Since alcohol is not digestible, it remains unaltered throughout the digestion process. Next, the normal circulation of blood carries this alcohol into your lungs, from where it’s exhaled in the form of breath. A breath testing device like a breathalyser can measure the amount of alcohol in your blood based on the amount of alcohol in your breath.

While breathalysers are commonly used by public safety officials and the police to verify and establish the reasons for a DUI arrest, it is now possible for you to purchase breathalysers for personal use to check if you are over the limit before getting behind the wheel. But, before we get on with that discussion, let’s take a quick glance over the history of breathalysers.


Breathalysers: A Brief History

Breathalysers and DUI share a long history together. In fact, before the invention of the modern breathalyser in the 1950s, determining if someone was too drunk to safely operate a motor vehicle was incredibly difficult and a whole lot subjective. The police observed individuals for factors like general demeanour, clothing, manner of walking, and hiccups to diagnose drunkenness in a suspect.

The first effective breathalyser was invented by Dr. Robert Borkenstein in the Indiana State Police (ISP) Criminological Laboratory, one of the first forensic science laboratories in the U.S. Though the device had earlier prototypes, it was Dr. Borkenstein’s invention that made roadside breath alcohol test a practical and widely-accepted solution for law enforcement agencies to test a suspect for drunkenness. Since the introduction of random breath tests (RBT) using breathalysers in Australia, the number of fatal crashes involving alcohol has been significantly reduced.

How to Choose a Breathalyser

Today, breathalysers have come a long way in terms of technological advancements. If you’re considering buying a breathalyser for personal use, you will have to choose between two different types of alcohol breathalysers—ones that use a semiconductor sensor and ones that use a fuel cell sensor. While readings from semiconductor alcohol breathalysers are not satisfactorily accurate, and are hence recommended simply to detect the presence of alcohol in one’s breath, a fuel cell breathalyser produces a more accurate reading.

Furthermore, you should always buy breathalysers keeping the following points in mind:

  • Choose a breathalyser that meets required Australian Standards.
  • Since over a period of use, all alcohol breathalyser sensors become less accurate and must be recalibrated, it’s advisable to buy one that can be recalibrated.
  • Buy from brands that offer breathalyser sensors calibrated by trained professionals. Readings from such devices are more admissible as evidences in court.
  • The breathalyser you choose must have

    a high accuracy in a controlled environment. The controlled accuracy reading should be +/-0.01% variance. Also, make sure it has an accuracy of +/- 10%, as per AS3547.

Now that you know all about breathalysers, invest in a good quality breathalyser to check if you’re within the permissible alcohol limits every time you hit the road and avoid DUI charges.

In the event that you do get convicted for DUI charges, always consult a DUI lawyer Sydney.


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