How Does a Breathalyzer Work?

Many people know how a breathalyzer is used but very few people understand the science behind it. Alcohol is not immediately digested upon consumption and it maintains its chemical composition once in the bloodstream. As blood travels through the lungs alcohol can move across the membrane of the lungs and some of it becomes trapped in tiny air pockets known as alveoli.

When an individual blows into the breathalyzer the alcohol concentration trapped within the lungs is measured by the machine. Within the breathalyzer itself, there are tubes that will change color via a chemical reaction when alcohol is detected. Photoreceptors within the breathalyzer measure the color change which indicates the level of alcohol concentration.

Another way in which a breathalyzer measures alcohol content is by an electric discharge which takes place when you exhale and your breath contains alcohol. An electric fuel cell within the breathalyzer has been calibrated with other gasses that mimic alcohol concentration, the fuel cell will read this discharge and produce results. The fuel cell breathalyzer is the more popular model.

Ignition interlocks use breathalyzer technology. If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI you may be required to have an interlock. The criminal defense attorneys at Rinke Noonan are here to help clients navigate the court system.

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