A breathalyzer does not actually measure blood alcohol content or concentration, which would require a blood sample. There are big differences between the small handheld breathalyzers used in the field, and the larger devices at police stations. Small breathalyzers may justify an arrest, but may not be admissible evidence in court. So how does it work?
How Breathalyzers Work
As you consume alcohol it is absorbed into your digestive system and passes into your bloodstream. As your blood passes through your lungs some of the alcohol moves across the membranes of the lung's air sacs, which passes out into your lungs, and is exhaled in your breath. The breathalyzer sensors pick up the concentration of alcohol in the air you exhale, and using an algorithm calculate the estimated blood alcohol content.
Common Breathalyzer Errors
There are common errors related to breathalyzer malfunctions. There are tiny sensors located in the device, and these need to be calibrated to perform correctly. Miscalibrated sensors can affect the test result, as well as other compounds in your mouth affecting the testing sensors. Alcohol present in your mouth can also give a false positive.
There are some myths on how to beat a breathalyzer, including placing onions, mints, or pennies in your mouth. Dont' try it! They've all been proven false. Mouthwash and other products containing alcohol can give a false readng, however police protocols now include adminstering an observation period prior to testing that can ensure there is no remaining alcohol in your mouth.
Charged with DUI or alcohol-related offense?
In Tennessee, you do not have to consent to a breathalyzer! Although your refusal can affect your drivers license. If you're charged with an offense, we can help! Give the attorneys at Saenz & Maniatis, PLLC a call today at (615) 366-1211 to handle your DUI or criminal matter. Hablamos Español.