What is a Breathalyzer?

A breathalyzer is a type of alcohol breath tester that measures blood alcohol concentration (BAC) simply by breath analysis. Alcohol breathalyzers are effective tools for alerting and preventing possible drunk driving.

In order to understand this process, let’s look at some basic facts about alcohol in our bodies, beginning with the initial intake and proceeding through its assimilation in our blood supply, to its emergence in our breath.

When you consume an alcoholic drink, the liquid passes quickly from your mouth to your stomach and soon, into your small intestine. Although some alcohol may be absorbed into your blood through the mucous lining of the mouth and stomach, most of it gets absorbed through the walls of the small intestine when your stomach valve opens.

Alcohol, especially in high concentrations, is able to delay the opening of this valve. This explains why, occasionally, some people can quickly ingest a few drinks and still show a low breath alcohol concentration for a short while afterwards.

It is in the upper part of your intestine, the duodenum, that alcohol gets absorbed into your bloodstream. The duodenum walls are permeable and contain lots of blood vessels for absorbing nutrients from digested food.

Most of the food you eat, such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates, need enzymes for digestion to make the food molecules small enough to pass into your bloodstream. Since the molecules in a drink are in liquid form, they are already small and therefore require no time for digestion. This explains why the effects of alcohol are felt so quickly when it is consumed on an empty stomach.

After drinking an alcoholic beverage, your blood alcohol concentration rises. When the percent of alcohol in your bloodstream reaches .02 to .03%, you may start to feel the relaxing effects of alcohol. After the alcohol percentage reaches .05 to .10% you will experience reduced muscular coordination, slower reaction times, and impaired judgment.

It is illegal and dangerous to operate a motor vehicle with these blood alcohol levels. The federally mandated limit is now .08% in all states. This means that if your BAC is at .08% or above and you drive, you could be arrested for a DUI, go to jail, lose your license, pay lots of fines, etc. Not a pretty picture.

The content of alcohol in exhaled lung air samples directly reflects the concentration of it your blood. If you want to stay out of jail and avoid all the other costs associated with drunk driving, you should be aware of the BAC limits. If you drink regularly, a personal breathalyzer could be a useful tool to help you stay out of trouble.

These days there are a lot of inexpensive breathalyzers available to buy. These digital devices have high testing accuracy because of their advanced semiconductor sensors, which are quite sensitive to alcohol samples.

Digital breath testers also have consistent reproducibility, which means that you will get accurate results with successive tests. Most of these devices also have short response times, so your results are almost immediate.

This kind of breathalyzer will let you know how much alcohol it takes to raise your blood-alcohol level to dangerous levels. There are many factors that affect alcohol impairment, so everybody’s response to this drug will be different.

Personal or coin-operated breathalyzers will help you and your friends or loved ones make better decisions about driving after drinking and they may even save your life.

Resources

Breathalyzer.net – distributes several different hand-held models, including the highly regarded BACtrack consumer hand-held unit for consumers, and the BACtrack Pro for professional use.

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