How does a single-use breathalyzer work?

The single-use breathalyzer is a single-use alcohol detector in the form of a small tube.

The operation of a single-use breathalyzer is very simple. The tube contains crystals that change color in the presence of ethanol. It allows you to measure a driver’s alcohol content in a few minutes and make an informed decision when it comes time to drive a motor vehicle. Of course, you have to use it well, understand the interpretation of the results and respect its expiration date.

How does a breathalyzer measure blood alcohol content?

Alcohol having the property of diffusing in water and the human body being composed of 70% water, the vapors of water exhaled in the breath are thus mixed with the alcohol consumed. The breathalyzer, thanks to its chemical crystals, is able to evaluate the level of alcohol exhaled by the person carrying out a test, thanks to the change in color of these.

Principle and operation of the breathalyzer

The breathalyzer comes in the form of a small tube containing chemical crystals that change color depending on the individual’s alcohol level.

So, crystals that are initially white will turn purple, going through light pink and medium pink depending on the rate.

So, the higher the alcohol level, the darker the color will be. The white color of the crystals indicates a rate of 0.00, while a tint of pale pink indicates a rate of 0.02, a medium pink, a rate of 0.05 and a tint of purple indicates a rate of 0, 08. Results are obtained in just a few minutes.

There are also breathalyzers operating with a balloon on the market. These single-use alcohol tests come in two parts: the breathalyzer itself and a balloon. Once the balloon is separated, each end of the tube must be pushed to pierce the membranes. The person carrying out the test then inflates the balloon to the maximum, then it is connected to the breathalyzer. The balloon is then completely deflated, the air passing through the breathalyzer. The result then appears in a few minutes.

How do I use a single-use breathalyzer and interpret the result?

Single-use breathalyzers only consist of a tube. You must first wait 20 minutes after the last consumption before performing a test.

Breathalyzers containing chemical crystals are very easy to use. After pressing both ends to pierce the aluminum, simply blow into the tube twice, for 10 seconds each time, then wait 2 to 4 minutes to interpret the result. Depending on your alcohol level, the crystals will be white (0.00), light pink (0.02), medium pink (0.05), or purple (0.08).

What if the test result is near the legal limit?

Sometimes the color change is very close to the coloring associated with the legal limit. Better to refrain from driving.

No need to risk a fine or an accident. In this case, the best solution is to wait half an hour, then take another blood alcohol test before hitting the road. If the result remains close to the limit, then it is strongly suggested to test yourself again half an hour later.

If the legal limit is 0.08, continue the test process until the displayed level is within the tint scale between 0.02 and 0.05. Attention, if the legal limit where we are is located at 0.05, then we must aim for a rate between 0.00 and 0.02.

If the driver has access to an electronic breathalyzer, he can confirm his alcohol level with this device which displays numerical data. But again, caution is in order. A breathalyzer has a certain margin of error, like any other electronic device, and it is between 5 and 10%.

If the result obtained with the breathalyzer is approaching the limit allowed by the Highway Code, then it is better to wait and retest every half hour until the number displayed gives some leeway.

What factors can falsify the result of an alcohol test carried out with a single-use breathalyzer?

Even if the use of a single-use breathalyzer is simple, its instructions must be scrupulously followed to obtain a good reading.

External factors influencing the estimated alcohol level

A breathalyzer must be carried out at least 20 minutes after the last alcohol consumption. On the one hand, the presence of alcohol vapors in the mouth can overestimate the blood alcohol level.

On the other hand, blood alcohol levels may continue to rise for up to an hour after the last drink, especially if the drink occurred during a meal.

For smokers, wait five minutes after the last cigarette. Tobacco can in fact falsify the result of the alcohol test and mislead the driver. Finally, breathalyzers have operating temperatures that must be respected, generally between 10 and 40°C.

Storage and expiry of a breathalyzer

Chemical breathalyzers have a shelf life of 18 to 24 months. Like all products with an expiry date, after this date, breathalyzers risk losing accuracy and for this reason, you should avoid using them.

However, they are not very sensitive to climatic conditions and are easily stored. It is recommended to use them at temperatures above -20°C and below 40°C.

The breathalyzer is a valuable ally of driving. Easy to use, reliable and economical, it is the ideal solution to ensure everyone’s safety. Whether you are a driver or an event organizer, using a single-use breathalyzer or electronic breathalyzer ensures everyone gets behind the wheel with full knowledge of the facts.