How does a portable breathalyzer work?

How does a portable breathalyzer work?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2019 | drunk driving |

Police use a battery of tests to support stopping a motorist for driving while intoxicated. A portable breathalyzer test can play a major part in the prosecution of a drunk driving offense. A breathalyzer is an instrument used by police that measures a driver’s blood alcohol concentration through the alcohol in their breath. Drivers may pass the test if they ingested alcohol at the rate of one drink per hour. There are several factors that can affect the accuracy of this device.

Because this PBT measures deep lung air, failing to blow into this device can lead to inaccurate readings. Police, however, should try to ensure that a motorist blows into a PBT properly and they may arrest suspects if they do not cooperate with performing the test as directed.

There are many other things that can affect a PBT’s accuracy. First, foreign substances containing alcohol in a motorist’s mouth, such as breath fresheners, some mouthwashes and cough medicines, can cause inaccurate results if the device is being used to test the driver’s BAC. Environmental factors, such as paint thinners, have affected results.

These devices must be periodically calibrated. Their batteries should be replaced for accuracy. Software problems, other malfunctions and failure to follow correct procedures have also led to inaccurate readings. Multiple readings must be taken for accuracy.

Diabetes, liver disease, certain types of cancer and respiratory conditions can contaminate the results. Certain foods eaten by the driver can also affect the PBT’s accuracy. Police may use a more sophisticated and accurate device at the police station. A breath test refusal can lead to driver’s license suspension and fines in Pennsylvania. But, these tests may constitute serious evidence in a DUI prosecution.


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