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How Does a Breathalyzer Work?

By Zachary Mushkatel on

breath test

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.