Understanding Breathalyzer Technology

Breathalyzer machines are used to detect BAC, Blood Alcohol Content or Concentration in the blood of a person, by law enforcement officers in Montgomery County, TX during traffic stops where the driver is suspected of drunk driving. The breathalyzers use a spectrophotometer, a fuel cell sensor or a semiconductor oxide sensor technology. At police stations, spectrophotometer technology using breathalyzers are used against people who are suspected of DWI.

BAC Machine

Every state in the U.S considers a driver to be legally intoxicated when his BAC is 0.08% or higher. He is charged DUI, driving under the influence, or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) if law enforcement comes to this conclusion. However, most DWI lawyers in Houston, TX, will tell you not to voluntarily cooperate or take part in the testing.

Generally, there are three BAC testing methods. Blood testing is the most accurate method used in the U.S. Blood tests are invasive and inconvenient as a blood sample needs to be drawn from the veins of the subject in some clinical setting or a hospital. Owing to this, the breath tests known as breathalyzers are considered useful. Breathalyzer machines are handheld devices, they are easy to administer, portable and lightweight.

Technologies used in breathalyzer machines

Sensor Technologies: The handheld breathalyzers use sensor technology. As you blow into the mouthpiece of a breathalyzer it gives your BAC reading. Breathalyzers may be grouped into two categories:

  • Breathalyzers featuring semiconductor sensors for home and personal use
  • Breathalyzers in Professional grade are accurate devices using fuel cell technology.

Semiconductor Sensor Technology: Breathalyzers, traditionally used semiconductor sensors to check BAC measure. The semiconductor sensor technology includes a tin-oxide material that is less expensive in comparison to the platinum fuel cell sensor technology.

Semiconductor sensors have ketones and are identical to alcohol chemical structure and so may give false positives. The semiconductor devices also react to breath acetone, cigarette smoke, and even to hairspray chemicals. Thus, the semiconductor sensors are ideal for home, personal and low volume professional BAC testing.

Fuel Cell Sensors: Breathalyzers featuring fuel cell sensors are highly sensitive in comparison to the semiconductor breathalyzers. The fuel cell sensors breathalyzers give accurate readings. These breathalyzers are used by people considering accuracy to the highest level, in clinics, substance abuse centers and for roadside screenings by law enforcement officers. These are the accurate devices delivering high degree of reliability.

Facts Affecting Breathalyzer Accuracy

A breathalyzer is a machine and, like all machines, they are influenced by outside factors which can potentially cause errors. The outside factors include foreign substances such as breath fresheners, mouthwashes and also toothache medicines that may skew readings. False results are also triggered in the presence of chemicals such as adhesives and plastics, varnish and paint fumes. Breathalyzers run on software, so relying completely on computer operating systems also means working with occasional bugs.

If you or a family member are in the market for a skilled DWI lawyer that knows how to win in serious cases involving so-called evidence, call Tad Nelson at 713-489-7373.