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If you drive, it’s common sense not to drink, but unfortunately as human beings we have that sense of being able to do it under any circumstances. Drinking is also a big habit of humans as a species because drinking mixes well with socializing with each other.
As a result, drinking and driving are usually at the root of most automobile accidents. We all know that alcohol will impair the brain’s ability to respond to any stimuli. By the time someone tells you that you’re too drunk to drive, you won’t acknowledge it unless you’re stopped by the police when it’s too late.
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Being apprehended by the police on a DUI charge is not cheap. Not only are you required to pay the fine or penalty for the charge, you also might be forced to stay in jail for a reasonable amount of time. You may also be required to do community service and worse, the stigma of having a DUI charge on your record is big. The police will know from here on end that you were caught in a DUI or DWI which doesn’t bode well for your reputation.
Now having said that, how will you know by yourself that you can’t drive when you drink? Since most people nowadays know the legal limit on the amount of alcohol that you can drink and still drive safely, you can automatically give your car keys to the person assigned to drive who has had no alcohol. This was what people used to do when they go out for a night of drinking before technology was used to figure out your BAC or Blood Alcohol Content.
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BAC is what is now being used to find out if you’re legally allowed to drive a car or not. So what is an alcohol breathalyzer? Simply put, it’s a machine or a piece of equipment that measures alcohol content in your breath. By volume, the legal limit on drinking is 0.08%.
Advancements in miniaturization have done wonders for technology. Not only are companies able to downsize almost anything, the capabilities of these small devices are exponentially getting higher. There are other ways to detect alcohol in the blood other than the usual alcohol breathalyzer test. There used to be a chemical based test that does the same thing as the alcohol breathalyzer but it needs human intervention to interpret the results. It was invented way back in 1938 and was affectionately called the ‘Drunkometer’ by Dr. Rolla Harger from the Indiana University and superceded by Dr. Robert Borkenstein with his proper alcohol breathalyzer.
Although the first alcohol breathalyzer was useable during that time, it was still a chemical tool that needed humans to interpret the results. The next big step in the development of the modern alcohol breathalyzer was in the form of the fuel cell alcohol breathalyzer. This type of alcohol breathalyzer uses an electrochemical reactor that produces an electric current that’s proportional to the amount of alcohol in the blood. The complexity of these modern devices necessitate the use of mcu or microcontrollers to get an effective reading. These are very electronically complex and programmable ICs or integrated circuits that can do a multitude of functions depending on the program that was installed on these IC chips.
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Along the lines of the fuel cell alcohol breathalyzer, there is still yet another type of device that can read your BAC or blood alcohol content but it does not use a fuel cell reactor. It uses infrared spectroscopy to read the amount of alcohol in the blood. This is similar to shining a light in your skin and reading the return of the light that bounces back from it. This reflected light differs from each and every molecule that shines on it, much like the way NASA determines the composition of the atmosphere from the various extra solar planets that they have discovered so far.
All in all, alcohol breathalyzer allows you to make an informed decision on your driving if you have been drinking, without having to physically check whether you’re sober enough to drive to just hand over the keys to the designated driver after the drinking session is over.
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