Alcohol blood testing accuracy is one of the most important factors when deciding which test to take. If you want to get behind the wheel after one drink, you should know the vulnerabilities of some of the tests. Knowing their weak spots does not mean that you should try to cheat a blood test. It is simply the best way of avoiding being charged with a DUI, due to the poor accuracy of a test.
Alcohol blood testing can be run either by drawing blood from your body and having it chemically tested or by using a breathalyzer. These types of tests are usually run by professionals such as medical doctors or police officers. However, anyone in possession of a breathalyzer can check his or her alcohol level. Assuming that you don’t go around carrying this type of device in your pocket, another handy option can be an online blood alcohol content (BAC) calculator. Keep on reading if you want to know how accurate each of these three alcohol blood tests are.
How Accurate Is a BAC Calculator?
Since a BAC calculator is the easiest test to use before getting behind the wheel, it is also the most popular. You can find multiple online websites that calculate your blood alcohol content and show you detailed charts.
A good site to use for calculating your BAC is: http://bloodalcoholcalculator.org/. Here you will find a chart/ graph that shows the blood alcohol percentage for both males and females, depending on how many drinks they’ve had. You can also select the type of drink you’ve had – beer, wine, or shots, and the calculator will factor it in. Other sites that have BAC calculators are:
All BAC calculators generally use the same formula in order to perform the required calculation. This formula is known as the Widmark formula and takes into account your weight, the alcohol quantity you have consumed in a time period, and your gender. However, the conversion performed by most of them is vulnerable to a number of variables that are specific to each person. You should thus know that the result you get from such an app is not 100% accurate and only represents an estimate of your actual blood alcohol level. A number of factors that could influence a BAC calculator are:
- the rate of your metabolism – this determines how much time is required for the alcohol to get absorbed into your system;
- the food you have eaten – food that is packed with proteins will help with the absorption rate of alcohol in your blood;
- strength of the drink – a drink that has a high alcohol volume will irritate the gastrointestinal tract, which will lead to a slower absorption rate;
- body fat percentage – the slimmer you are, the less alcohol you can drink before you become intoxicated;
- drugs or medication – your blood chemistry is also affected by any drugs you might have taken around the time of your alcohol consumption or by any medication you might be under;
- health issues – any disease or illness you might be suffering from could impact your liver or a bodily function that is essential for the absorption of alcohol;
- gender – because of unique enzymes in the stomach, the same amount of alcohol is metabolized differently by females; this means you could obtain higher BACs in women compared to men.
How Accurate Is the Breathalyzer?
A breathalyzer is just as vulnerable to all the factors that influence the BAC calculator. With that in mind, you should know that the technology each breathalyzer uses can also influence the accuracy of the results. There are two types of breathalyzers, those that use semiconductor sensor technology and those that rely on fuel cell technology.
Most breathalyzers you might run up against will be using semiconductor sensor technology that is vulnerable to false positives. Even though you might be sober, ketones (substances that occur naturally inside your body), cigarette smoke, and even hairspray could influence the testing process. A more accurate option is a breathalyzer that uses fuel cell sensors. This type of product is becoming more and more popular with police officers, so you might want to reconsider alcohol abuse before driving. The fuel cell sensors ensure that other substances do not show up as alcohol in your system.
There are many popular myths concerning the blood alcohol test performed via a breathalyzer. However, few of them are true. Here are some common misconceptions you should be aware of:
- coffee – drinking a lot of coffee will not reduce the level of alcohol in your blood or reverse its effects;
- breath mints – while your breath will be fresh, your blood will still reek of alcoholism;
- exercising – you can spend as long as you want running around the block, but this will have no effect on your blood alcohol level;
- cold showers – you might be tempted to leave the house right after a shower, but don’t leave before that alcohol has had time to metabolize; a cold shower won’t make a difference.
How Accurate Is the Chemical Alcohol Blood Testing?
As far as accuracy goes, you can’t find a more fool-proof method than a chemical alcohol blood test. In order for this advanced test to be performed, a blood sample has to be drawn from your body. The person running the test will check for ethanol levels that can be found in your blood. If the level of ethanol in your blood is over 0.08%, you will be classified as legally intoxicated in all US states.
Different State Limits for Alcohol
Each state has its own limit for blood alcohol content. Many states such as California and Colorado, will stick to the 0.08% limit. UK has the same limit of 0.08% for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The same goes for Ontario and Canada. If you are in Scotland or Australia, you should know that there is a lower limit there – 0.05%.
Other Things to Consider
If you’re thinking ‘My liver is used to alcohol, I can drink more’, then you should know you are in the wrong. No matter what calculations you perform, all livers digest a drink/hour. The reason for which you might not feel drunk is that you have developed functional tolerance. If you are used to drinking frequently, then your body’s sensitivity to alcohol is much lower. Even though you are not displaying symptoms of intoxication, you might still have a very high blood level of alcohol.
Now you have all the information you need in order to assess alcohol blood testing accuracy. Regardless of whether or not you intend to drive, make sure you don’t go overboard with those alcohol drinks!