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Breath Alcohol Test

What is a breath alcohol test?

A breath alcohol test is a non-invasive and rapid method of determining the amount of alcohol in an individual's bloodstream. A breath alcohol test determines how much alcohol is in your blood by measuring the amount of alcohol in the air you breathe out (exhale). The device called a breathalyzer uses that measurement to estimate how much alcohol is present in the person’s blood, known as BAC or blood alcohol content.

How long does alcohol stay on your breath?

While navigating through alcohol tests, the most frequently asked question is how long does alcohol stay in your system?

Depending upon the type of test, the detection window of alcohol varies between 6-72 hours, a breath alcohol test can detect alcohol for 12-24 hours after its consumption.

There is a misconception that sleeping and drinking water increases the rate of alcohol absorption in the body, which is not true. Whereas, certain factors like the quantity of alcohol consumed, metabolism, gender, and weight of a person can affect the process of alcohol inside the body.

Breath Alcohol Test - Procedure Summary
  • Inform drivers to submit a breathalyzer test.
  • Staff will make available the Screening Test Technician or Breath Alcohol Technician with all essential information.
  • Confirm the identity of the employee driver with a present legal photo ID.
  • Start setting apart testing areas to avert unapproved persons from hearing.
  • The Screening Test Technician or BAT (breath alcohol technician) will record the results on the alcohol test form and provide a copy to the employee driver and elected employer demonstrative.
  • After an initial test, if the alcohol level is 0.04 or above an evidential alcohol screening device is used to reconfirm the result.
  • Make sure that reconfirmation test results are considered as the final of the breath alcohol test.
  • If the employee driver fails to deliver enough breath capacity after several efforts, the test will stop.
  • Employee drivers will be obtaining a medical assessment within five days to define if there is a satisfactory medical purpose for not providing a sample.
FMCSA Alcohol Testing Regulations

FMCSA requires employers to conduct drug and alcohol test for the employees performing safety-sensitive work. The drivers are directed for substances and alcohol tests under specific circumstances like pre-employment (for controlled substances only), reasonable suspicion, post-accident, random, return-to-duty, and follow-up. The following are some conditions stated by FMCSA for alcohol test:

  • All screening tests must be completed by a qualified breath alcohol technician (BAT
  • In case the screening test result is 0.02 or higher but below 0.04, the employee shall not perform or continue to perform safety-sensitive functions until 24 hours following the administration of the test.
  • Alcohol tests with concentrations of 0.04 or greater are considered positive results.
  • Immediate removal of the employee after being tested positive for breath alcohol test from the safety-sensitive position. Furthermore, a complete return-to-duty process with a DOT-qualified SAP (substance abuse professional) is required to rejoin the job.
Urine & Hair Drug Testing
Did You Know?

Local authorities may also suspect you of DUI (Drug Under the Influence) if you're exceeding the speed limit, causing an accident, or veering off the road. If you're pulled over by the police, they can use a Breathalyzer to check your blood alcohol content right there at the scene of the accident.


Companies performing safety-sensitive work are federally mandated by the Department of Transportation and FMCSA to perform DOT drug and alcohol tests. Drug and alcohol testing is also a common practice to be performed on drivers who are caught speeding or involved in accidents. However, it is also demanded by companies as a pre-employment test to keep the workplace safe.