What is an alcohol Breath test?
Alcohol breath tests are used to measure how much alcohol is in the air you breath out in a single breath. This is called your Breath Alcohol Content (BrAC). The alcohol breath test device then uses this information to work out your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Alcohol begins appearing in the breath within minutes after a drink.Generally peaks about half an hour after the drink. If you keep drinking, the level of alcohol in your breath increases . This reflects the increase in alcohol in your body. Alcohol breath test devices are generally used by Law Enforcement officers at a roadside breath test. However, they may also be used in a hospital, in a workplace, or by you to keep a track of your own BAC. A breath test will generally be followed by an alcohol blood test if required by Police.
Why are they used?
Alcohol breath tests are mainly used to keep people safe. This is especially relevant to driving a vehicle, including trains and boats, or working with machinery in a workplace. The higher your BAC, the more likely you are to have an accident or make bad decisions. You become clumsier, can’t see clearly, and have a slower reaction time than someone who is sober. Apart from randomly testing drivers on the road, a common use of an alcohol breath test is in workplaces. In particular heavy industry like mining or manufacturing, where the lives of workers can rely on the actions and reactions of other workers. Alcohol Breath tests are very common these days and are used daily around the world.
Keeping yourself safe while using alcohol is very simple. If you know that you will be drinking and you are unsure whether you will be able to drive home safely, make sure you test yourself throughout the night using your own alcohol breath test unit. After you have finished drinking, you can use the unit to tell you when your BAC has dropped enough to drive home safely. BACtrack breathalysers are easy to buy online or in store at many Harvey Norman and other electronics stores.
How to use an Alcohol breath test device
When you have bought your breathalyser, make sure you look after it and read the instructions carefully before use. Wait at least 20 minutes after eating, smoking, swilling mouthwash, or drinking before testing. Don’t blow smoke or any other fumes into your breathalyser or you may damage the sensor. Most alcohol breath tests work in the same basic way:
- Attach a mouthpiece to the unit (some may come with an attached non-removeable mouthpiece)
- Turn the device on with the “on” switch
- Wait for the device to get ready for testing. The amount of time this takes will vary according to the different units available but is usually only 5-10 seconds
- When your device is ready, blow into the mouthpiece until the device tells you to stop. This is usually defined by an audible beep. Don’t stop blowing until the unit tells you to stop or your test may not be accurate.
- Wait for your device to calculate your results. These are usually shown on a screen on the device or on your smart phone screen if using a bluetooth device. This usually takes around 10 seconds.
- Your device will usually shut down by itself after a couple of minutes
- Your device will tell you if the test has failed for some reason. This is usually caused by not blowing long enough or hard enough for it to get a decent reading. If this happens try again after a few minutes.
- If you think that repeated results aren’t accurate then your unit may need to be sent back to the manufacturer for recalibration.
How to get the best results from your test
Alcohol Breath tests should always be performed away from strong winds, fumes, or in very high or very low temperatures. All these factors can affect the test and make the results less accurate. If you are obviously highly intoxicated do not use your unit. Extremely high levels of alcohol can damage the sensor by saturating it with alcohol. If you are that drunk, you definitely should not be driving. Therefore you don’t need to know what BAC level you are at. Regardless of the result of the test, if you feel impaired it is a good idea not to drive, or wait a little longer before driving.
Keep your breath alcohol test device in a cool, dry place when not in use. Preferably in its storage bag or container. This will keep your breathalyser safe from dust and moisture. It is also important to get your alcohol breath test unit recalibrated when necessary. This is essential to maintain the unit’s accuracy. Most units will need to be recalibrated every 12 months or 1000 tests, whichever comes first. Typically, you should get over 5 years lifespan from an Xtend fuel Cell breathalyser that has been properly cared for and looked after.
Is your BAC rising or falling?
After drinking large amounts of alcohol, your BAC can continue to rise. This can be for at least an hour after your last drink. This is because your body reaches a point where it can’t process the alcohol as quickly as you are drinking it. Your body continues to process alcohol after you have finished drinking. To test if your BAC is still rising or is starting to fall, repeat your alcohol breath test every 3 minutes or so. The time delay allows the sensor time to clear between tests.