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In a recent blog post, we explained how – technically speaking – there’s no such thing as a “breathalyzer.” Instead, the word “breathalyzer” is a brand name for some of the chemical breath testing machines on the market, much like a Kleenex is a brand name for some of the facial tissues you can buy. In fact, there are scores of “breathalyzers” that have beenapproved for police use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA), like the Lifeloc Technologies Phoenix 6.0BT, the Lion Laboratories Intoxilyzer 200D, or the Intoxiimeter 3000 DFC.
While there are plenty of possible breath testing kits to choose from, however, they all fall into one of the three following categories, based on how they work:
The original Breathalyzer, one of the earliest chemical breath testing kits, invented in 1953, used the color changes from a specific chemical reaction to determine the alcohol content of an air sample. Many current breath testing kits are based on this system, as well.
The chemical process that these models use is a color change in potassium dichromate. Alone, this chemical is reddish-orange. When it is mixed with alcohol, it turns green.
Models based on the original Breathalyzer keep two vials of potassium dichromate inside them. One reacts with a breath sample, while the other stays pure. A photocell system then compares the difference in color between the two, and its reading is interpreted as a blood alcohol content (BAC).
In an Intoxilyzer model, a breath sample is held inside the machine while infrared light is shined from a lamp at the sample. Because all different chemicals absorb light at different wavelengths, if the wavelength that corresponds to alcohol doesn’t make it through the breath sample, it means there’s alcohol in it. The more alcohol in the breath sample, the more that particular wavelength of light gets absorbed, the less light passes through to the sensor on the side of the machine opposite the lamp.
Modern alcosensor breath testing machines are like fuel-cell batteries, with platinum electrodes on the ends and a porous acid-electrolyte cell fixed between them. Any alcohol in a breath sample gets oxidized and broken apart by the electrode on one side, to reattach together as water, on the other side of the battery. This process produces an electrical current, which gets measured and read as BAC.
Each one of these models, however, has drawbacks and unreliable aspects to it that can be challenged to defend against acharge of operating under the influence (OUI)in Maine.
OUI-defense attorneyWilliam T. Bly has taken courses on how breath testing machines work, giving him insight on how to best challenge BAC evidence, however it was gathered.Contact him onlineor call his law office at (207) 571-8146 for the legal defense you need.
If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with
one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys
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