Drunk driving is a serious issue that can lead to fatal accidents, injury, and death–an unfortunate fact of the modern world. But perhaps there’s not a lot of cities worse for it than Orange County in California, which sees a higher average of driving deaths involving alcohol (28.5%) compared to the entire state (27.7%) and the US as a whole (27%). 

As a result, law enforcement agencies in Orange County and other major cities of California have been trying to curb this problem for years by implementing strict laws enforced with fines, license suspension, and other legal penalties – something an OC DUI lawyer knows like the back of their hand. 

One of the most common tools law enforcement officers use in DUI cases is the breathalyzer test. In this post, we’ll look at breathalyzer tests, how they work, and their role in determining whether someone has been drinking.

What Is a Breathalyzer Test?

A breathalyzer test is a non-invasive test used to measure the amount of alcohol in an individual’s bloodstream by analyzing their breath. It’s often used during traffic stops or checkpoints to determine if someone has been drinking while operating a vehicle.

How Do Breathalyzers Work?

Breathalyzers operate on the principle of infrared spectroscopy. When alcohol is ingested, it enters the bloodstream and eventually makes its way into your lungs, where it diffuses across membranes through alveoli into the exhaled air. A breathalyzer then detects ethanol (alcohol) that passes out from blood vessels into alveoli sacs within your lungs which you exhale out through your mouth.

When someone blows into a breathalyzer machine, infrared light shining through their breath chemically reacts with ethanol molecules present in their lungs’ exhaled air sample causing them to vibrate differently than non-alcoholic molecules due to the unique absorption properties of ethanol within a specific wavelengths range/region/frequency region used by Device sensor which provides results displayed after processing data from the sensor indicating Blood Alcohol Content – BAC readings which range from 0% percent (no alcohol detected) up-to typically .08% percent.

Are There Different Types of Breathalyzers Available?

Yes! Two types are available: desktop units utilized primarily within police stations/offices or mobile-type devices used within a vehicle or handheld units used by law enforcement professionals. 

Desktop Units: The desktop units are considered sophisticated while often associated with professional settings like police departments and hospitals. They are bigger, bulkier models capable of testing more effectively under different conditions regardless of external factors throughout the procedure.

Mobile Units: They’re smaller and less expensive because mobile breathalyzer tests can fit easily into an officer’s duty bag; they are generally equipped with various functions suited for efficient usage on the go.

Handheld Units:  Handheld breathalyzers are highly portable with substantial business applications. Such meters are exclusively utilized to test individuals who report to work under alcohol influence or anyone preparing to operate vehicles, either heavy-duty trucks/cars/recreational vehicles (RVs). Most personal handheld units like the BACtrack Trace Pro breathalyzer operate via Bluetooth connectivity, which works with specific smartphone apps housing databases that keep historical data collected through sessions over several days, weeks, or months.

What Is the Legal Limit for Blood Alcohol Content?

In most states across America, driving while intoxicated is legalized once an individual has a blood alcohol content level (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. If someone blows a .o8 BAC during a breathalyzer test, they will be considered legally drunk, and their license may be suspended depending on state laws. Commercial drivers working within industries such as Truck research & Manufacturing and Public transportation would consider violating specific lower limits on points ranging between .04 percent-.02 percent depending upon State guidelines.

Can the Result From a Breathalyzer Test Be Challenged?

Yes! Although breathalyzer tests are highly accurate, they can sometimes give false readings due to errors caused by device calibration issues, often stemming from poor reading performances leading to inaccurate results produced based on air temperature levels/humidity range systems/amongst other external variables reducing authentic results production rate ultimately impacting violations offense charge against a suspected person.

An experienced DUI attorney in court can challenge breathalyzer tests if the tests were conducted improperly, calibration records were not recent during an inspection by law enforcement agencies, which brings sufficient doubt on test results’ validity or other grounds for dismissing evidence accumulated from gas chromatography-based systems using similar technology detecting alcohol levels within bloodstream samples separated into gas components with individual peaks upon which analysis has taken place.


Breathalyzer tests are essential in determining whether someone has been drinking and driving. Analyzing someone’s breath and checking their blood alcohol content can help prevent accidents on the road while keeping people safe. However, as mentioned above, misconstrued interpretations may lead to inaccurate results obtained after taking charges against innocent people. Therefore, you must always make a wise decision before concluding your written report statements based only on breathalyzer readings.