Court-ordered breathalyzer tests can come in many different forms. Some operate with an alarm signalling to the user that they have minutes to take the test, while others are linked directly to the ignition of a car. These devices, known as an ignition interlock, disable the ignition of a car if alcohol is detected. Even a single incidence of driving while under the influence can lead to necessary use of one of these devices. Research has shown the use of court-ordered breathalyzers cuts recidivism rates by more than 65 percent. And with an average of more than 35 fatalities occurring each day in the United States relating to alcohol use, these devices save lives and prevent the unintended consequences associated with drinking and driving.
How Breathalyzers Work
Typically, breathalyzers work by measuring the acetic acid remaining after alcohol is oxidized which provides an estimated measure of an individual’s overall blood alcohol concentration (BAC). An individual blows air through a small tube, any alcohol on their breath begins to oxidize, releasing acetic acid molecules. These molecules are then detected by the device. The amount of alcohol oxidizing on someone’s breath is in proportion to the liquid alcohol in their bloodstream, giving law enforcement a fairly accurate measure of a person’s BAC.
An Ignition Interlock License Following A DUI
Requirements for how often or when to test vary with each conviction, however, some states allow an individual to apply for an ignition interlock license before they suspend a license, allowing a person to continue working as they face a hearing or enter treatment. (An interlock device may also be required after the license has been suspended.)
During this period, a driver may be required to test before starting the car and later, while driving. These “rolling retests” are designed to prevent someone from having a friend utilize the device in place of the driver.
In some cases, a driver may fail the first test, in which case the device disables the car for a period of time, usually up to 30 minutes. At that time, the driver is permitted to retest. If their BAC remains above the set limit, the car will be disabled for a longer duration. In other cases, a person who blows over the legal limit may face arrest. Severity of the consequence depends on the individual’s state and prior convictions. If you are still drinking and worried about blowing over your limit with your interlock system, you may wish to carry a portable unit with you. These units usually cost about $100.
Interlock devices cost as little as a few dollars a day and will not harm your vehicle. Installation takes less than an hour and will be completed by a professional. Depending on your state, you may either be required to let law enforcement or the monitoring authority know you have installed the interlock system by submitting a certificate provided by the installer, or the installer may submit this information electronically.
Electronic Home Detention following A DUI
If you are facing an electronic home detention for a DUI arrest, you may not have a choice in when you test for BAC. An electronic home detention is monitored using a bracelet which allows a person’s movement to be traced via satellite. Additionally, an in-home breathalyzer may also be utilized. These devices have an alarm that sounds at certain periods of the day or at random, depending on the severity of the sentencing. An individual must take the test within minutes of the alarm, or face arrest.
Beware Of Alcohol In Other Substances
The law does not recognize excuses for alcohol readings that may come from other sources. If you are sick and taking cold medication, notify your monitor about the best course of action. Otherwise, wait 15 minutes after eating or drinking to ensure no false positives, which may result in legal consequences.
How Long Will I Be Required To Use A Breathalyzer?
After restoration of your driver’s license, a breathalyzer may be required for testing for as long as three years, though again, much depends on the severity and nature of the sentencing. In the long run, though inconvenient, breathalyzers protect the safety of other drivers and your safety as well. Driving while intoxicated carries a risk of devastating consequences like death and unintentional manslaughter.
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