Is the Breathalyzer Test Behind the Times?


If you make the decision to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after you have been drinking, you run the risk of getting pulled over by law enforcement. If an officer believes that your ability to drive is impaired, you may be asked to complete a breathalyzer test. This test is simply done by blowing into a small machine that an officer carries with him or her in the patrol car. This technology will report what your blood alcohol content is. If the amount is over the legal limit, you may be arrested. Let’s take a closer look at what breathalyzer tests are and if they are really as great as they are made out to be.

Breathalyzer Tests and Their Use

The breathalyzer device is used to estimate what the blood alcohol content is in somebody’s system. The term “breathalyzer” is actually a brand name. After years of use, this is now what people use to refer to the device itself. These tests are used during routine traffic stops when pulling someone over. The results are not always perfect, but courts will use this information as evidence in a legal case. This test measures the amount of ethanol in a person’s breath to get an idea of how much alcohol has been consumed. If being used in a court of law, the equipment must have been used by an officer who is certified and trained on that piece of equipment.

Behind the Times

While this might seem like a very advanced piece of technology, “It is a machine designed in the early 1980s utilizing technology designed in the 1970s. There are often errors with individual breath test machines that you, the suspect, are unaware of at the time of the test,” according to the Law Office of Eric Harron. While the unit itself has changed over the years, police officers are still using the same concept of technology. The outcome isn’t always as accurate as it should be. With the advancements in technology in recent years, there probably should be something newly designed that will be more accurate and admissible in a court of law. This will be much more trustworthy as part of a defense.

Impact of Criminal Proceedings

As the most commonly used test to determine what a person’s blood alcohol content is, the breathalyzer should be more accurate than it is. A blood test is far more accurate, but it cannot be processed on the spot. A court of law will allow this evidence to be used against a driver if it is determined that the test was administered correctly by the police officer involved. However, according to Alcohol Problems and Solutions, studies have shown that these readings can actually vary as much as 15 percent from the actual amount of alcohol in a person’s blood.

With information available to explain the inaccuracies of a breathalyzer test, it seems as though better technology and a new discovery should be developed. This would provide the court of law with more accurate information that can be used for DUI cases across the country.

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