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what is a breath alcohol test

What is a Breath Alcohol Test?

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A breath alcohol test measures the alcohol concentration in the air you breathe out (exhale).

You will see various types of tests administered whether its a personal breathalyzer used by an indivual, a device used by law enforcement or an EBT (Evidential Breath Test) device approved by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) which is used in DOT (Dept. of Transportation) tests. The EBT devices have met the specifications for precision and accuracy.

When you are confronted with a breath alcohol test you should make sure the following occurs:

  • The person testing you should perform an air blank sample of ambient air to ensure that no alcohol is present.
  • The person testing you should select a mouth piece that is new/unused in a sealed wrapper to ensure only your breath is being tested.
  • You should provide a deep lung breath and blow for about 6 seconds continuously.
  • You should not belch or hiccup during the process.
  • You should make sure you have not put anything in your mouth prior to test (15 minutes) to ensure no residual mouth alcohol is picked up.
  • You should not smoke around the device or prior to a test.

There are no risks associated with taking a breath alcohol test and there is no discomfort.

What are some situations in which a breath test could be conducted:

At work: When an employee is selected for a random alcohol screening.

When an employee is involved in a work related accident.

When an employer has reasonable suspicion that one is under the influence.

On the road: When a law enforcement officer suspects impairment.

When the DOT requires it for post-accident situations.

Breath alcohol tests are performed for many reasons (some noted above) however SAFETY is really the #1 reason!

  • When you drink alcohol the amount of alcohol in your blood goes up.
  • When your blood alcohol reaches .02-.03%, you may feel a relaxed high.
  • When your blood alcohol reaches .05-.10%, you will have reduced muscular coordination, a longer reaction time, and impaired judgement.
  • When you drive or operate machinery under the influence of alcohol you are creating a dangerous environment.
  • When you drive in Georgia .08% and above is considered illegal.
  • When you operate under the DOT/FMCSA (drive an 18 wheeler) your driving limit is much lower! Why? Because you are operating an 80,000lb missile that can endanger other motorists!

So if we take into account the DOT/FMCSA guidelines, if you have a breath result of .02-.039% you need to not drive for a period of 24 hours. If you have a breath result of .04% or higher you need to seek help from a Substance Abuse Professional before going back to work. I hope this food for thought makes you think about your alcohol consumption prior to getting behind the wheel of a car/truck as well as when operating machinery at work.

And to add one more tidbit-if you are on any controlled substances while drinking alcohol you can become impaired quicker than noted above and you could be creating an even bigger problem when mixing drugs and alcohol!

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