Alcohol facts

Worth knowing facts and frequently asked questions about breathalyzers

Which variants are available? 
What values and in which unit does a breath alcohol tester measure?
Which measuring technology is used?
How oral alcohol affects the measurement
How do I correctly perform a breath test with a breathalyzer?
Influence factors on the measurement result
If the measurement result is higher than assumed
If the measurement result is lower than expected
Why shall a breathalyzer be calibrated regularly?
Which accessories are available?
Technical development
Breathalyzers in road traffic
Breathalyzers in health care and in social professions
Breathalyzers at the workplace
Breathalyzers for individuals
Breathalyzer for the gastronomy
Manufacturer / distributor of breathalyzers
Additional INFORMATION

 

Which variants are available?

Breathalyzers can be differentiated between mobile and stationary devices. Mobile devices are often very small, light and handy and in many cases they can be operated by a one-button handling. They are mainly operated with batteries or rechargeable batteries. Stationary test equipment is mainly used in catering and serves the safety of the guests. These devices must be connected to a power supply for operation.

What values ​​and in which unit does a breath alcohol tester measure?

The measurement of the alcohol concentration by means of breath alcohol testers is in principle an objective measure for the influence of alcohol in the venous blood circulation or respiratory air. The level of the blood alcohol concentration (BAK) resp. The breath alcohol concentration (AAK) is associated with a statistical probability with the risk of failure or accidents against the sober condition, which is the basis for the legal perimeters or also the alcohol tester measurement by the police.

Which measuring technology is used?

The accuracy of the measurement results depends on the type of built-in sensor. Basically, there are devices with semiconductor sensor and those with electrochemical sensor. Electrochemical sensors are often more accurate than those with semiconductors. Devices with an electrochemical sensor provide a measurement accuracy with a tolerance of +/- 0.05 per thousand and are among the classic, professional pre-test devices. Devices with a semiconductor sensor measure with a tolerance between +/- 0.10 per mille and +/- 0.25 per mille.

How oral alcohol affects the measurement

If you eat (or drink) an alcohol-containing substance (like e.g. an alcohol-containing chocolates) or if you use an alcohol-containing mouthspray before the measurement of the breath alcohol concentration, the breath will also take up the alcohol from these substances in the upper mouth-throat space. As a result, the alcohol concentration detected in your mouth is combined with the value of the alcohol concentration measured in the air of the lung, which leads to an increased total measured value. This increase, however, completely disappears by mixing the oral alcohol with saliva or by absorption in the body within a few minutes. By observing a control period of at least 15 minutes before the measurement, an influence of oral alcohol on the final result can be avoided.

How do I correctly perform a breath test with a breathalyzer?
Please read the operating instructions for the breathalyzer you have purchased. As a rule, the breath tests are very similar. 1. The breathalyzer is turned on and the sensor warms up. As soon as the device is ready for the breath test, a corresponding indication appears on the device display and, in some breathalyzer models, a beep sounds. 2. Blow gently and without interruption into the mouthpiece attached to the breathalyzer until the breath test is finished. This is the case after a few seconds, and some models will beep again. TIP: Blow into the mouthpiece as if you were whistling without sound. 3. After a few seconds, the measurement result is shown on the display (with 2 or even 3 decimal places, depending on the model). The higher the alcohol level measured during a breath test, the longer the integrated sensor needs to evaporate the detected alcohol, which in turn affects the waiting time until the breathalyzer is ready for the next test (the waiting time is normally a few seconds, with higher measurement results it goes up to 30 seconds on average).

If you wish to carry out a comparison test with your breathalyzer, please wait at least 2 to about 5 minutes. You have  to know that during the first test, you have already exhaled the air that has been liquefied with alcohol from your lungs and a second test carried out immediately after the first one would definitely indicate another measurement result, e.g. less alcohol content in your breathing air. Also, make sure to always use a new mouthpiece for the second test - in the mouthpiece there might be a rest of alcohol measured during your first test that might affect the second breath test result.

Influence factors on the measurement result

The result of a breath test depends on many different factors, including the body fat content and the amount of body fluid, in addition to gender, age and body weight. Furthermore, the general physical and psychological state or the respective day's constitution must also be taken into account. Also the type of meal you had before a test (stomach content) and taking medicine can affect the measured value. Other factors are the type of beverage (percentage of the alcohol content in the beverage), the drinking rate and the individual duration dependent on the test person with regard to the alcohol build-up or the alcohol breakdown in the body. Some people quickly have an increased alcohol content in the blood; in others bodies it takes longer until an alcoholisation is detected. And some people quickly remove the alcohol content in the blood, while others still show an increased alcohol content in the blood after a longer period of time*. In the body of a men alcohol is dissipated with a value between 0.1 and up to 0.2 per mille per hour, in the body of a woman this value is between 0.08 and 0.1 per mille per hour.

* Information about the transfer of alcohol into the body (absorption): Approximately 40-50% of the consumed alcohol is in the body within 15 minutes, after 65 minutes it is 65% and after 70 minutes, 100% of the consumed alcohol is in the body.

If the measurement result is higher than assumed
Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to a slightly higher and in any case faster intake of alcohol. In most cases, women tolerate less alcohol - mainly because they have more body fat and a smaller body size than men. When drinking very fast, the blood alcohol value also rises very quickly, the maximum perille value is also slightly higher. Very young or very old people dissipate alcohol in the body worse. Likewise, this happerns with people who rarely drink alcohol. Tiredness can lead to a slightly increased alcohol intake. In addition, when the body is weak, the effect of the alcohol is often intensified.

If the measurement result is lower than expected
If you had an opulent meal the maximum blood alcohol concentration is reached delayed, as the meal slightly reduces the blood glucose level. Men dissipate alcohol faster, since they have a smaller percentage of body fat and a bigger body height than women. People who drink alcohol on a regular basis disspipate alcohol more quickly, so that their alcohol level is usually lower than presumed. Anyone who drinks non-alcoholic beverages, such as water or any other drinks containing no alcohol, dissipates the alcohol in his body better.

Why shall a breathalyzer be calibrated regularly?

In order to maintain the accuracy of a breathalyzer, it should be sent to a service laboratory at intervals of max. 12 months in order  to readjust = calibrate the device. The decisive factor is not the frequency of use, as often assumed wrongly, but the time: if devices are heavily and often used, the zero point shifts. The sensitivity of the integrated sensor also decreases with low-use devices or those which remain for a long time (the accuracy drifts and this is, for example, comparable to a watch which no longer shows the exact time after a certain period of time). Regardless of the use, a breathalyzer should be calibrated at certain intervals (the recommended calibration interval can be found in the operating instructions supplied with our breathalyzers).

Alternatively, there are breathalyzers with interchangeable sensors available. They offer the advantage that the sensor replacement can be carried out at any time - this is e.g. possible with the mobile usable breathalyzers ACE AL7000, ACE III Premium or ACE ALP-1 med or with the stationary breathalyzers ACE PublicACE Public V (with video display) and the ACE Vision small (with tablet PC and WLAN function).

Which accessories are available?
For alcohol testing devices, there are various accessories, such as individually hygienically packaged mouthpieces, exchange sensors (optionally available depending on the breathalyzer model) or mobile printers (optionally available depending on the model).

Technical development
The first breathalyzers were developed in 1953 and were based on a chemical measuring principle (so-called Alcotest or Alcocheck tubes). Breathalyzers of the current device generations are based, as mentioned above, on electrochemical measuring principles or semiconductor technology. The average deviation from the reference value of 1.00 per mille is between +/- 0.05 per mille and +/- 0.15 per mille for these handhelds. These are mostly handheld test devices, which can be used several times. The test equipment measures the level of the per mille in the patient's breathing air. The measuring instruments available today are delivering first results from 0.01 per millimeter, depending on the quality and the built-in sensor. As an alternative to the alcohol test devices, there are breathalyzer tubes which can be used once (1x) and indicate by means of a chemical substance contained in the tube a breathable alcohol content of above or below 0.5 per thousand.

Breathalyzers in road traffic
The accurate and meanwhile even for private users available breathalyzers allow the police authorities to make much more and higher quality alcohol test controls in road traffic. The aim is to multiply the alcohol tests in road traffic in all member states of the European Union.

Breathalyzers in health care and in social professions
Breathalyzers are mostly used in emergency medicine in the case of unconscious or inaccessible persons. Special suction technologies allow the breathing air to be sucked in via the exhaled air of the nose. Such articles are produced by e.g. Envitec (Alcomed). In social stations, breathalyzers are mostly used in the field of alcohol cessation for testing the subjects. During these tests the highest demands are placed on the hygienic safety of the appliances. For the medical sector, there are various breathalyzers available with own medical approval.

Breathalyzers at the workplace
Strengthening of safety regulations and welfare obligations, intensifying competition and increased health awareness have led many establishments to introduce the 0.00 per mille trade mark or, at the very least, to significantly reduce alcohol consumption on the factory premises. Many entrepreneurs use portable alcohol testers as deterrence and sometimes there are also access controls, which only allow access to the factory premises after a breathtest has been done. The EU is currently working on a draft for a new law on compulsory alcohol and drug testing for professional drivers and aircraft pilots (keyword: breath-controlled immobilizer).

Breathalyzers for individuals
Due to the technical progress in the measuring accuracy of breathalyzers and the now affordable prices, more and more private users purchase an own mobile breathalyzer. Since these breathaylzers have a very handy format, you can easily put them into the trouser or jacket pocket as well as in the handbag or into the glove compartment of the car. This development is also being driven by the reductions in the number of perimeters in Europe, the tougher penalties and the increased police tests. Since every human being degrades alcohol in the blood differently and also the daily constitution plays an essential role, theoretical formulas are hardly usable (see following paragraphs "influencing factors to the height of the measured value" and "If the measurement result is higher / lower than presumed.").

Breathalyzer for the gastronomy

At first glance, the issue of alcohol consumption seems to be incompatible with the topic of alcohol testing in the catering industry. On the one hand, the sales are achieved by the alcohol consumption of the guests; on the other hand, these consumption rates are to be reduced by stationary installed breathaylzers. In practise the first is often the case. The phenomena that are observed here range from pushing each other's buttons and drinking contests to drinking to the limit and also to executing an early stop of drinking. The offer to do an alcohol test is rated as a positive service by the guests. In most cases, the investment costs will be amortized in a few weeks / months for the owners of clubs, bars, restaurants and even parking garages. Legislates are currently preparing the draft for a new law which requires mandatory alcohol testing in gastronomic establishments.

Manufacturer / distributor of breathalyzers

There are only a few companies that produce or offer good breathalyzers. The following companies are engaged in the development, manufacture and distribution of alcohol test products:

The ACE team will be happy to advise you in detail about the breathalyzers of all 3 brands and will surely find the right product for your own alcohol test application.

 

Additional INFORMATION

DRUG TESTS

Drug tests are mostly used in external tests (test of other persons), especially in the fields of medicine and traffic safety. The most common products are rapid drug tests for single use. These tests detect one (single test) or multiple drug substances (multitest) from urine, solids, surfaces, saliva, or sweat. In the meantime, test cartridges are also available for private individuals (for example for parents or relatives).