My Alcohol Tester Doesn’t Work!
We periodically get calls from customers who tell us “My breath alcohol test device doesn’t work. We tested a person whom we were certain was very intoxicated, but the breath alcohol test showed a very low or a zero reading. What’s wrong with my device?”
When we get this question we are always first of all curious that the customer knows how intoxicated the subject is before doing the breath test. What did they observe? Was it alcohol on the breath? Reports of how much alcohol they drank? Slurred speech, or some other behavior that suggests intoxication? While these behaviors suggest intoxication, testing with an accurate alcohol test device is the definitive way to determine intoxication level.
The only way to determine if the alcohol test device in question is giving accurate readings is to perform an Accuracy Check, either prior to, or immediately after, the test in question. (Some law enforcement agencies perform an Accuracy Check prior to and after a subject’s breath test; the DOT protocol calls for an Accuracy Check immediately after the subject’s breath test.) If the device successfully passes the Accuracy Check, then we expect that the intoxicated subject’s breath test result was equally accurate.
Performing an Accuracy Check also verifies the overall functioning of a breath tester. It’s conceivable that the device had a problem that prevented it from correctly performing the breath test on a subject. But it is unlikely that the device could then successfully pass an Accuracy Check when exhibiting the same problem.
The bottom line is that performing routine Accuracy Checks on a breath test device is the best way for staff to build confidence that the breath test results they obtain are correct.
Click here for more information and instructions for performing Accuracy Checks on Intoximeter instruments.
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