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Preparation, Method and Results of Alcohol Breath Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Alcohol Breath Test

An alcohol breath test is used to detect the level of alcohol that is present in an individual's blood. This is referred to as the blood alcohol concentration or BAC and the alcohol content in the air that is exhaled while breathing is used to determine this. As soon as alcohol is consumed, its concentration in the blood starts to increase. The stomach walls absorb the alcohol and from there it passes into the bloodstream. It courses through the entire body and the brain. The level of alcohol in the blood rises very quickly. It is extremely dangerous to drive under the influence of alcohol. The use of alcohol breath analyzers help to keep drunk driving in check, thereby preventing fatal accidents from taking place.


In order to take the test, the individual must wait for fifteen minutes after consuming an alcoholic drink. If the individual has been smoking, then he must wait for one minute after that and then take the test.

Methods Used for Alcohol Breath Tests

Alcohol breath tests are done in various ways, each employing a different technique of testing the alcohol levels in the individual's breath. The machine used in such tests may be either manually operated or electronic. A practice of testing the breath for alcohol that is commonly used involves the individual blowing up a balloon in one breath continuously. The air inside the balloon is then released in to a tube made of glass. Inside the tubes are yellow crystals placed in bands. Based on the content of alcohol in the air, the bands of crystals change colors. An electronic meter may also be used in which the individual has to blow on a mouthpiece that is connected to the meter. The breath alcohol concentration is shown on a digital display after this.

Interpretation of Test Results

When one of the crystal bands become green, it means that the blood alcohol concentration is 0.05% or below. When there are two green bands, it means that the blood alcohol level is between 0.05 to 0.10%. Three green bands indicate levels of 0.10 to 0.15%. When an individual's blood alcohol concentration touches 0.02 to 0.03%, he may experience a slight “high”. When the levels touch 0.05 to 0.10%, muscle coordination diminishes and the individual displays impaired judgement and long reaction time. An individual is considered intoxicated when his alcohol breath test results indicate a level of 0.08% and above.

Risk Factors

There are no risk factors involved in this test.

Other Considerations

The driving abilities of people also have a role to play in this matter, and this test does not take that into account. Individuals with the same alcohol levels may drive in very different ways. This is because some people experience difficulty in driving even if their alcohol levels are below 0.05%. Still others experience problems of judgement even with levels of 0.02%.