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Breath alcohol testing

Breath alcohol testing is usually performed as part of a workplace drug test. By using Home Office approved breathalysers, the breath alcohol test provides evidential proof that an individual may have alcohol in their system. In addition, breath alcohol testing is routinely performed as part of Network Rail drug and alcohol testing.

Breath Alcohol Testing

How does breath alcohol testing work?

As you breathe, oxygen passes into the bloodstream and some of the alcohol in your blood transfers into the air in your lungs. As a result, the amount of alcohol in the exhaled breath can be used to calculate the amount of alcohol in a person's blood. This is also known as blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The breathalyser measures the alcohol in the lungs by generating and measuring a small amount of electricity when the alcohol from the breath sample passes a sensor.

We measure the amount of alcohol in a breath sample in Micrograms of alcohol per one hundred millilitres of breath, also expressed as μg/100ml. For example, the current drink drive limit in England and Wales is 35μg/100ml.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should a breath alcohol test be used?

The breath alcohol test is routinely used by the Police in the UK to check for drink driving. Similarly, the breath alcohol test is routinely used in the workplace for the detection of employees who may have alcohol in their system. Using Home Office approved breathalysers, this test is indicative of BAC. As a result, it can be used as legal evidence when obtaining and recording the results as part of a chain of custody collection. However, only Home Office approved, fully calibrated and accuracy checked breathalysers must be used to provide evidential results.

Also, breath alcohol testing is used as part of the gold standard of workplace drug and alcohol testing. For example, alcohol testing for Network Rail is conducted using an approved breathalyser.

What are the limitations of the breath alcohol test?

As mentioned, only full calibrated, accuracy checked, and Home Office approved breathalysers can be used to provide evidential results. Also, individuals with breathing difficulties or respiratory conditions may struggle to provide a breath sample. As a result, the contingency would be to test for alcohol in a urine sample.

What are the time frames for breath alcohol testing?

The breath alcohol test is indicative of blood alcohol content. As such, it detects alcohol in an individual’s system in real time. As a result, it is a superior alcohol test to urine alcohol testing. Urine alcohol testing may not be indicative of the amount of alcohol in the blood at the time of sample collection.

What is the cost of breath alcohol testing?

If conducted in isolation, breath alcohol testing can cost from just £48 incl. VAT per person for multiple donors at the same appointment. For example, this could be breath alcohol testing in a workplace for 20 or more employees. However, if undertaking drug testing at the same time, there is no additional charge for breath alcohol testing.

Local drug testing clinics, and mobile locations throughout the UK

For your convenience, we have a network of drug testing clinics throughout the UK. As a result, we can provide drug and alcohol test appointments for you in your local area. Or we can arrange for a certified sample collection officer to visit your home, workplace, or other location.