Alcohol Breath Testing: Is There Reasonable Doubt?

By: Okorie Okorocha and Matthew Standmark

The Alcohol breath test (ABT), commonly known by its commercial name as the “Breathalyzer,” is a device made popular in the United States and used by law enforcement agencies throughout the world to assess and determine the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of individuals suspected of driving under the influence (DUI). , , With increased popularity of the automobile in the late 19th century, traffic accidents caused by individuals driving while intoxicated became a serious problem. While legislation was created making it illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence, no quantitative method existed which could assess the intoxication level of an individual. Instead, subjective field tests were used to assess drunkenness relying on identifying certain behaviors in the suspected individual. Blood tests eventually became available to determine BAC, but since drawing blood roadside from a suspected individual is not a viable option for law enforcement officials, another method was needed which could determine intoxication or BAC indirectly and in a non-invasive manner.