You’re pulled over and wondering if you are going to fail a sobriety test. Perhaps you’re looking for a breathalyzer reading chart to give you some idea of how many drinks it takes to make someone of your weight and size to get drunk. If you’re in this situation right now, it’s important to know what to expect and how to navigate what comes next.
What Is a Breathalyzer?
A breathalyzer is a device that estimates the presence of alcohol in the body. It determines the blood alcohol content (BAC), or concentration of alcohol present, with the goal of determining if someone is above the legal limit. There are several types of devices used for this process, including a fuel cell sensor, a semiconductor oxide sensor, and an infrared spectrometer. Each works using a different process to provide the same results.
How Does a Breathalyzer Work to Determine Intoxication?
BAC is an easier way to determine intoxication than conducting a true blood test. Urine tests, which can also be helpful in determining intoxication levels, are also not ideal for police officers to use. The first BAC devices, developed in 1954, were designed to test for alcohol’s presence using just a person’s breath. It’s an easy way for a police officer to determine, along with other tools, if a person’s ability to drive is impaired.
These devices work because the body does not absorb alcohol through normal digestion. Alcohol also does not change chemically in the bloodstream. Rather, the alcohol within the blood is able to move to the lungs. As a result, it can move across the alveoli, which are small air sacs in the lungs. Alcohol evaporates into the air within these sacs.
When a breathalyzer is used, the air coming from the lungs — and these air sacs — contains the concentration of alcohol expected in the bloodstream. The device can pick up this presence easily, giving the police officer clear information about just how much alcohol is moving through the bloodstream.
When May You Have to Have a Breathalyzer?
States have very specific laws regarding alcohol consumption and driving. It’s understood that too high an alcohol concentration in the blood means a person isn’t able to react fast enough or manage the process of driving, putting themselves and others at risk. If a police officer spots a person driving erratically, they may have the legal right to pull that individual over.
State laws differ on when a police officer can pull over a person for suspicion of driving under the influence. If pulled over, the individual may be subject to a breathalyzer, again depending on the laws of the state. A BAC of 0.8% is the legal limit in the United States for noncommercial drivers. Anything beyond this can result in a citation.
A breathalyzer can also be used if you’ve already been convicted of driving under the influence. Some states require individuals with a charge like this on their record to install a breathalyzer device in their vehicle. It attaches to the controls and restricts your ability to start the car until you breathe into the device. If your BAC is above the legal limit, the car will not allow you to start it.
What Is a Breathalyzer Reading Chart?
A blood alcohol level chart can provide you with information on how high your BAC is likely to be based on how many drinks you’ve had. This type of chart is in no way guaranteed to be accurate. However, such a chart can give you some insight into when it is no longer safe to get behind the wheel.
It works by calculating your likely BAC level based on your weight, as well as the number of drinks you’ve had. The more drinks, the higher your BAC is. A person who weighs less requires fewer drinks to reach these unsafe levels.
A Key Warning About Blood Alcohol Level Chart Time
Keep in mind that the amount of time elapsed, the rate of drinking and the rate of a person’s metabolism all play a role in how many drinks it takes to reach intoxication. For someone who is drinking one beer every two hours, reaching an illegal limit may not occur for some time. However, if a person has a faster rate of metabolism, this will change the accuracy of the chart itself.
Breathalyzers for Marijuana
According to recent reports, police officers may now have access to a breathalyzer designed to detect marijuana. A pot breathalyzer can be a tool that helps police officers determine if a person is impaired when operating a vehicle. Though state laws continue to change in terms of illegal use of pot, anyone who is using and is impaired, or considered unable to drive a vehicle safely, can face a citation.
Though these may not be found in the field as readily as alcohol breathalyzers, they are in development and may prove a valuable tool for minimizing driving while impaired. A pot breathalyzer could provide police officers with valuable evidence in fighting this type of high-risk crime.
What Are the Consequences of Failing a Breathalyzer Test?
Each state sets its rules on the consequences of a failed breathalyzer. In some situations, individuals may face serious consequences. This may include a loss of driving privilege and fines. In some cases, individuals may be required to enroll in substance abuse programs or have a breathalyzer installed in their vehicle. Jail time is possible in other cases, especially in a situation where an individual has had failed breathalyzer results numerous times.
Have You Failed a Breathalyzer? Seek Out Help at FHE Health
If you’ve failed a breathalyzer test and are headed to court, consider the benefits of enrolling in an alcohol treatment program. Doing so may help the courts to see that you are taking steps to voluntarily handle the problem, which can help you to potentially minimize the consequences of impaired driving. There is no guarantee of this, but many people need help to end substance abuse.
If you are facing the consequences of a failed DUI, take action now by calling FHE Health. Call us today at 844-299-0618 to learn more about the substance abuse treatment options available to you. Our compassionate counselors are available 24/7 to offer help and guidance to you for any type of alcohol-related addiction.