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Breathalyzer FAQs

What is a breathalyzer?

A breathalyzer is a breath alcohol tester. In other words, it is a device that tests for alcohol in your body through a sample of your breath. This is based on the principal that the alcohol concentration in your breath sample taken from your lungs is a good indication of the concentration of the alcohol in your blood.

 

Why do I need a breathalyzer?

You may need a breathalyzer to test your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) after having a few drinks. You may need a breathalyzer for personal use to test yourself before you drive or to test yourself the morning after a big night of drinking, when alcohol may still be present in your system. A lot of workplaces have a strict alcohol policy and may use an industrial breathalyzer or workplace breathalyzer to test staff before they can enter a workplace. Many of our customers also buy a breathalyzer to learn more about how alcohol affects the body. 

A lot of factors such as weight, body size, health, and amount of drinks or food consumed before drinking can affect your BAC. There is no sure way of calculating your own BAC based on just the number of standard drinks that you've had. A breathalyzer is the most convenient and reliable way of finding out your BAC on a night out. 

 

What is BAC?

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is the industry terminology used to describe the percentage of alcohol present in an individual’s bloodstream at a particular point in time. It is the key variable that determines whether law enforcement can legally arrest a driver for impairment. Standardised BAC tests enable law enforcement and medical professionals--as well as concerned individuals--to objectively estimate the level of a person’s alcohol intoxication. Put simply, the higher the BAC number, the greater the impairment.  

BAC is usually measured as mass per volume. For example, a BAC of 0.05% means 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 grams of a person's blood, or 0.5 grams of alcohol per 1000 grams of blood. 

 

How do I use a breathalyzer?

A breathalyzer is very easy to use. Just switch it on, wait for it to warm up, and then blow into the mouthpiece when it is ready for you to take a test. When it has received enough breath sample, it will calculate your BAC and display it on the screen of the device. It will then re-set itself and you or your friend can take another breath test. 


How do I choose which breathalyzer to buy?

Read our guide on How to Buy a Breathalyzer. It explains what factors you need to think about when choosing which breathalyzer to buy. 

Also check out our Compare Breathalyzers page for a quick table comparing the major differences between our personal breathalyzers.


What are semiconductor and fuel cell sensors?

These are the two main types of sensors used in breathalyzers. The sensor is what measures your BAC from your breath sample. There are some main differences between these two types of sensors:

Semiconductor sensors are generally cheaper to produce, which in turn makes semiconductor breathalyzers more affordable for consumers. However they are relatively less accurate than fuel cell sensors and are not alcohol-specific, i.e. they may detect non-alcoholic substances when providing a reading. 

On the other hand, fuel cell sensor are more accurate and provide more consistent BAC results even with consecutive tests. They are also alcohol specific and have a much longer lifespan than semiconductor breathalyzers. However, they are more costly to produce and as a result, fuel cell breathalyzers generally cost at least $200 or more. 

Read our article on the differences between semiconductor and fuel cell breathalyzers to learn more. 


What does the Australian Standard AS3547 mean?

 

What is calibration?

 

How often do I need to calibrate my breathalyzer?


How do i send my breathalyzer back for calibration?