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Alcohol breath testing

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 14 December 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1403
  1. Abi Berger, science editor
  1. BMJ

• Drivers are initially tested for alcohol impairment at the roadside with a screening device. If this produces a positive test, evidential breath testing is performed at the police station. Motorists can be stopped and required to take a breath test by police at the scene of a road traffic accident, if a police officer suspects a motorist may be driving under the influence of alcohol, or if a motorist commits a moving traffic offence.

Five breath screening devices are currently approved for police use in Britain. They work on the principle that in the presence of a catalyst, oxygen in a sample of expired air converts any alcohol present into acetic acid and then to water and carbon dioxide. A fuel cell converts the chemical energy released when oxidation occurs into a detectable …

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