The portable breathalizer is a well-known field sobriety test device employed by police and other emergency workers all over the world. It is a common sight to see: an officer administering a breathalizer test to a suspect standing outside his car on the side of the road. They are life-saving devices that manage to do their job without being invasive or even intrusive. They are just one of the many ways the police have to combat the epidemic that is drunk driving.
The breathalizer was created in 1954 by an Indiana State Policeman named Dr. Borkenstein. It was the first invention to take advantage of the fact that alcohol particles are expelled in the breath when someone has been drinking, and was the answer to a prayer or two. Previous alcohol tests required blood sampling, or urine tests, which proved to be difficult to administer, as well as being impractical. Beyond those considerations, of course, is the fact that invasive procedures must either be agreed upon or subpoenaed. The invention, and introduction, of the alcohol breathalizer answered all of these issues and gave the cops a way to fight back.
The principal behind breathalizers is a little confusing for anyone not in the know. Alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream when it is consumed. From there, it passes through the lungs, and some of it will evaporate from the air sacks into the air that is being held for the next breath. It is, really, the same principal as cooking an alcoholic ingredient off to retain the flavor but none of the intoxicants. As the breath is expelled, the breathalizer test can measure the volume of alcohol particles, which are in a constant ratio to the volume of alcohol in the blood, and the suspect’s blood alcohol level can then be determined. The ratio of expelled particles to that of the blood level is 2,100:1. This means that a breath measurement of 0.10mg/L converts to (roughly) 0.021g/dL blood alcohol in the United States. Different countries use different measurements. Legal limits differ in each state, with the government pushing to continually lower them. Right now, most American states have a legal driving limit of 0.08.
There are many different types of people that avail themselves of breathalizers. Police, obviously, carry them in squad cars, and even some off-duty police carry portable breathalizers. Substance abuse workers will also often carry one to determine whether or not any of the program’s participants have been drinking. Emergency workers carry them sometimes in order to more effectively diagnose and treat an problem that arises, since alcohol has different effects on the body and can make medications either less or more effective. Even some principals in hard-hit or no-tolerance schools will have personal breathalizer tests on hand. Employers too, are taking advantage of this technology to test problem employees. It can also be important for some care-givers to carry one, if caring for someone who has a drinking problem or certain health issues that preclude drinking in any form. In some countries, like France, it is required by law to buy breathalizer tests and carry them in the vehicle with you.
One application for personal breathalizers that is controversial is the one that sees parents making their, typically teenaged, children submit to one before they leave and after they get home. Though some call it an invasion of privacy, others are hailing it as a great way to keep the roads as safe as possible for those teens, and making sure that fewer people are killed by drunk drivers every year.
When looking to buy one of these little wonders, it is important to check breathalizer reviews to make sure of getting the best one for the price. It is also important to know if you need a portable breathalizer. Reviews can be found on almost every major internet retailer, as well as some sites that are specifically designed to review items. Amazon.com is especially good with user reviews, and even offers ratings based solely on those reviews.
Breathalizers, though amazing tools, can be expensive, or they can be nearly dirt cheap, depending on the quality you need. There are some personal, portable breathalizers available online for as little as seven dollars, and some that go up to several hundred dollars plus. The professional versions, of course, are on the higher end of that range.
Breathalizers, whether personal, portable, or professional, are wonderful tools to help police, emergency and health care workers, substance abuse counselors, educational providers, and even parents, make sure their charges are not legally impaired. Though the tests still require consent when administered by law-enforcement, they are a wonderful, and steady, measure of how much alcohol was imbibed by a particular suspect. In other applications, people typically sign a contract saying they will submit to testing either on a random basis or a suspicion of abuse basis. In any context, these little machines can quite easily save lives.