A breathalyzer is a device used for estimating content of alcohol from a sample of one’s breath. According to Bell, Robert Borkenstein invented it in 1954 while serving as an instructor in the field of alcohol intoxication.The device is more popular with forces, which have been generally using it to test their personnel and drivers on highways. There have been debates between police departments and some members of the public regarding the use of the device on both technical and constitutional perspectives. Therefore, this paper discusses the topic basing on the two viewpoints to establish the best course police departments should take to end dissatisfaction from the public and ensure road safety.
AlcoholAlert.com establishes that on the technical point of view, it has been noted that the device carried by police officers on highways is not as accurate as they think. It estimates indirectly assuming that there are no variations in human hematocrit range. On the same note, there is a false assumption when converting alcohol in the lung to that in the blood. A common discrepancy of this arises when there is high content of alcohol in the mouth as compared to that in the blood, inflating the results. The other dilemma arises when the device does not only identify ethanol molecules but also others such as acetones. Acetones are produced when somebody is dieting or diabetic. On the constitutional point of view, civil libertarians have raised complaints that installing such devices in cars of people who have never been classified as “driving under influence” of drugs is unconstitutional.
According to the recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 16,994 people died because of alcohol related accidents. The Urban Insurance Agency also indicates that while statistics are expected to increase, legislators are getting alarmed to mandate everybody’s car to be equipped with a breathalyzer.
Evidently, the NHTSA data shows that there is need to have alcohol detector on roads, the remaining obstacle being the public dissatisfaction. Therefore, to win public support, it is imperative that the police force come up with a more accurate device than the one being contested now. Additionally, its forensic team should educate the public on the necessity of installing it. Nevertheless, it should be simplified and potable to be convenient for its users.