How Does a Breathalyzer Work?
By Zachary Mushkatel on August 28, 2013
The breath-testing machines used by Arizona police officers to test drivers for alcohol go by several different brand names, including Breathalyzer and Datamaster. Each device operates similarly.
The machine uses a sample of a driver’s breath to test blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A breath sample may be used because as the alcohol in the blood circulates through the lungs, some of it is pulled into the airways when the person exhales. In Arizona, a driver may face a driving while under the influence charge (DUI) if his or her BAC is more than 0.08 percent and exhibits impaired driving.
Breath-testing machines use various means to detect and measure the alcohol in the exhaled air from a driver’s lungs. The original Breathalyzer collects the breath sample and pushes it through a chemical process that produces chromium ions. The machine then measures the concentration of ions, which translates to a specific BAC. Other machines, like the Intoxilyzer, use an infrared beam. The breath sample is passed through the beam, and a sensor detects whether alcohol is present depending on how the wavelength of the beam changes.
One thing all breath-testing machines have in common is the need to be maintained and calibrated regularly in order to give accurate test results. Consequently, the state of the breath-testing machine may be crucial in proving or disproving drunk-driving charges.
If you are facing drunk driving charges in Arizona, do not hesitate to contact the dedicated Arizona DWI defense attorneys at Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, to help you build a defense that protects your legal rights and fights for the best possible outcome in your case.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.