Variability in the Blood/Breath Alcohol Ratio and Implications for Evidentiary Purposes*

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Abstract

The breath analyzer is an indispensable tool for identifying alcohol levels among drivers. While numerous studies have shown high correlations between blood and breath alcohol concentrations, most are limited by the study design. This study seeks to assess this relationship by minimizing potential measurement bias, document time from alcohol consumption to testing, and adjusting for potential confounders. A blinded study was performed using conditions closely resembling those in the field. The Draeger 7110 MKIII IL breath analyzer was used to assess breath alcohol concentrations (BrAC). Participants were 61 healthy volunteers aged 21–37 years with body mass index ≤30 and no history of alcoholism. A total of 242 valid blood/breath tests were performed in four test sets. The study results showed a high correlation coefficient between BrAC and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels (r = 0.983) with high sensitivity (97%) and specificity (93%). This strong association between the breath analyzer and BAC persisted even after adjustment for various stages of alcohol absorption. These results illustrate the high diagnostic sensitivity of the breath analyzer in field-tested conditions.

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