A breath alcohol test, also called an alcohol breath test, is without a doubt the most commonly employed
method of testing for an individual’s blood alcohol level or blood alcohol concentration in the United
A breathalyzer is a breath alcohol testing device that is used for estimating a person’s blood alcohol
content (BAC) from a breath sample. In the United States, the Datamaster 2000 breath alcohol tester is one of the
most common breathalyzer brand names currently in use.
How Breathalyzers Work and Some of Their Deficiencies
Breathalyzers do not directly measure blood alcohol concentration or content. Measuring blood alcohol content
(BAC) requires the analysis of a blood sample.
Breathalyzers, rather, estimate blood alcohol concentration or content indirectly by measuring the amount of
alcohol in a person’s breath.
A major issue with some breathalyzers, such as the Datamaster 2000, is that they not only detect the ethyl
alcohol found in alcohol beverages, but also in other substances that have a similar molecular structure.
Stated differently, the “problem” breathalyzers identify any compound containing the methyl group molecular
And the issue with this is that more than one hundred compounds can be found in a human’s breath at any one time
and 70% to 80% of these compounds contain the methyl group molecular structure.
The upshot of this is that these methyl group molecular structures will be incorrectly identified and labeled as
ethyl alcohol. Ironically, the more ethyl group substances the breathalyzer detects, the higher the false blood
alcohol content estimate will be.
The Breath Alcohol Test
An alcohol breath test, also known as a breath alcohol test, is by far the most frequently employed method of
testing for a person’s blood alcohol level or blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
While not as reliable or as accurate as a blood alcohol test or an alcohol blood test, the breath alcohol test
is the most economical and the most convenient alcohol testing method for the police and the least invasive,
embarrassing, or painful for the individual receiving the test.
One of the most frequent causes of false high breath alcohol test readings is the presence of mouth alcohol.
In fact, products such as breath spray or mouth wash can “fool” breathalyzers by substantially raising test
Listerine, for instance, contains approximately 27% alcohol. If an individual were to rinse his or her mouth
with Listerine a few seconds before taking a breath alcohol test, for example, this could certainly produce a false
In examining a person’s breath sample, the breath alcohol testing instrument’s internal computing mechanism is
calibrated to elicit results based on the assumption that the alcohol in the breath sample came from air exhaled
from deep within the person’s lungs (i.e., alveolar air).
The reality of the situation, however, is that for a number of reasons, the alcohol may have come from the
person’s stomach, throat, or mouth. To help prevent mouth-alcohol contamination, certified breath alcohol test
operators are trained to vigilantly observe an individual for at least 15 to 20 minutes before administering the
breath alcohol test.
Findings by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that people who are diabetics or
dieters can have acetone levels that are hundreds, if not a thousand of times higher than people who are not
diabetics or dieters.
The key concern here is that acetone is one of the many substances that can be falsely detected as ethyl alcohol
by some breathalyzers.
There’s also numerous products found in the environment that can lead to erroneous BAC results with
Some these products include substances or compounds found in cleaning fluids, paint removers, celluloid,
gasoline, and lacquers.
Other common substances that can result in false BAC levels are alcohol, blood, or vomit in the person’s mouth.
False BAC readings can also be triggered by police radios, moisture, tobacco smoke, cell phones, electrical
interference, and dirt.
Breathalyzers can be very sensitive to temperature and will result in false readings if they are not
recalibrated or adjusted to compensate for ambient or surrounding air temperatures.
Furthermore, the temperature of the person being tested is also important. More to the point, each degree (in
Fahrenheit) in the subject’s body temperature above 98.6 can result in a relatively large elevation (about 8%) in
A person’s breathing rate can also significantly affect breathalyzer results. For example, one study showed that
the BAC readings of individuals who ran up a flight of stairs decreased 11% to 14%. Furthermore, when these
individuals ran up the stairs a second time, their BAC readings decreased 22% to 25%.
Another study demonstrated similar results (a decrease in BAC of 15%) in individuals who hyperventilated or who
Moreover, hyperventilation for just 20 seconds has been shown to lower the breathalyzer BAC readings by about
10%. Conversely, individuals who hold their breath for 30 seconds can increase the breathalyzer BAC results by
The failure of law enforcement officers to use the breathalyzers correctly and to properly maintain and
re-calibrate the units when necessary also lead to false test scores.
The Breath Alcohol Test: Breathalyzers
Breathalyzer tests are the most common form of breath alcohol tests and have the following characteristics:
- They do not directly measure blood alcohol concentration or content.
- They estimate blood alcohol content or concentration indirectly by measuring the amount of alcohol in a
- They not only detect the ethyl alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, but also in other substances that have
a similar molecular structure.
- They can result in false blood alcohol content readings if law enforcement officers fail to use the
breathalyzers properly or fail to properly re-calibrate or maintain the devices when necessary.
- They can result in false blood alcohol concentration readings from compounds or substances found in
lacquers, cleaning fluids, celluloid, paint removers, and gasoline.
- They can lead to false blood alcohol content results from vomit, blood, or alcohol present in the person’s
mouth from products such as mouth spray or mouth wash.
- They can result in false blood alcohol concentration readings due to an individual’s breathing rate caused
by hyperventilation, a person holding his or her breath, or vigorous exercise.
- They can result in false blood alcohol content readings caused from tobacco police radios, smoke, dirt,
electrical interference, moisture, and cell phones.
Conclusion: Datamaster 2000 Breath Alcohol Test
A breathalyzer is a device that is used for estimating a person’s blood alcohol concentration froma breath
sample. The Datamaster 2000 blood alcohol test is one of the most common breathalyzer brand names currently in use
in the United States.
One of the most common causes of false high breath alcohol test results is the presence of mouth alcohol.
Indeed, products such as breath spray or mouth wash can “fool” breath alcohol testers such as breathalyzers by
significantly raising test results.
Listerine mouth wash, for example, contains roughly 27% alcohol. If a person were to rinse his or her mouth with
Listerine a few seconds before taking a breath alcohol test, for instance, this could easily produce a false blood
alcohol concentration reading.
Keep in mind that research has demonstrated that breath alcohol test results with a breathalyzer can vary at
least 15% from actual blood alcohol concentration levels measured with a blood test.
It is also important to point out that an estimated 23% of individuals tested with breathalyzers will have a
blood alcohol content reading higher than their actual blood alcohol concentration level.
While not as accurate or as reliable as an alcohol blood test or a blood alcohol test, the breath alcohol test
is the most convenient and the most economical alcohol testing method currently used by the police and is also the
least painful, embarrassing, and the least invasive method for the person receiving the alcohol test.