Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug in the world and is used by millions of people every day to relax, socialize, and simply as a beverage. While alcohol is legal, there are cases in which authorities need to determine whether a person has been drinking or is under the influence of alcohol. This can occur if a person is driving, is underage, or has been ordered by a court to refrain from using alcohol. In these cases, authorities may choose to use a breath test, often referred to as a breathalyzer, to determine whether the person has consumed any alcohol and whether they are under the influence.

The Science Behind the Breathalyzer Test

When a person drinks, alcohol travels from their mouth into their stomach, where it is absorbed into blood that has already been exposed to oxygen. This blood moves through the body, carrying oxygen (and alcohol) to different parts of the body. This blood goes into the lungs, where it is transferred to the lungs and is released when the person exhales. The breath test device analyses the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath and uses that information to determine how much alcohol is present in a person’s bloodstream. The result is referred to as their blood alcohol content (BAC). In order to determine a person’s BAC directly, a blood sample must be taken and analyzed, however, a breath test can be used for an estimation of a person’s BAC.

Some facts about BAC include:

  • BAC can be measured minutes after a person has consumed alcohol and usually peaks about an hour after drinking
  • It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with a BAC of more than 0.08 throughout the United States
  • Every state has a zero tolerance BAC policy for drivers who are under 21
  • The amount of alcohol a person needs to drink to reach a 0.08 BAC depends on a variety of factors, including their sex, weight, the rate at which they drink, and when they last ate

Help is Available – Call Discovery Center Today

Alcohol and drug addiction and abuse are serious issues. At Discovery Institute, we are committed to creating a caring and supporting environment designed to help our clients succeed. We offer a wide range of services that are individually tailored to the unique needs of each client. To learn more about our various services and how they can make a lasting difference in your life, call us today at 800-714-2175.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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