The Breathalyzer Test

What is the Breath Test?

A breath test is the means by which the breath is checked to find the amount of alcohol in the body.

It is safe and reliable method, to make sure that motorists who drink alcohol and drive do not put other person’s lives in danger.

How is the Breath Test done?
There are two instruments used for breath testing. The first is a Screening Instrument which is a hand-held instrument carried by the policeman on the beat. It does the first test to show:

  • if there is alcohol in the body, and
  • if it is above the legal limit

The second instrument is called the Evidence Instrument.

This instrument also tests for the level of alcohol in the body but this second test, gives the result printed on an Evidence Card. This shows:

  • Your name
  • Your licence number
  • The time at which the test was done
  • The amount of alcohol found in your body
  • When is the test done?

If a police officer has reasonable cause to believe that you are driving under the influence of alcohol, then he will ask you to do a breath test.

The officer will ask you to blow into the Screening Instrument.

This will show if you had too much alcohol to drink, that is, if you are above the legal alcohol limit. If the screen test shows that you are above the legal alcohol limit, then you will be taken to the nearest police station where you will be asked to do an Evidence Test.

You will get a printed copy of the results of the test, which you should take to court with you.

The mouthpiece into which you blow, will be used for only one test. It comes in a sealed package and is taken out only for your test. You will not be exposed to any diseases.

 

WHAT IS THE LEGAL ALCOHOL LIMIT?
The legal alcohol limit is the highest level of alcohol which the law allows you to have in you body.

This is determined by the amount of alcohol you drink. Remember that the amount of alcohol which gets you drunk, depends on many factors, for example, your size, weight, sex and whether you ate before drinking.

The law states that the legal alcohol limit is 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath or a blood alcohol level of 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

 

THE BLOOD TEST
You will only be asked to take a blood test if you are unable to take a breath test. Blood tests will only be done at a hospital by a medical practitioner or a qualified laboratory technician. A blood test can only be done with your consent. You will not be asked to do a blood test if a breath test has been done.

 

PENALTIES

If you fail the breath test, you can, on conviction, be fined up to $3,000 or serve a term of up to 6 months in prison. You can also gain 14 demerit points on your driver’s licence.

If you are caught a second time, you can be fined up to $5,000 or be put in prison for a term of up to 12 months.

If you refuse to do the breath test, you can be fined up to $3,000 or serve a prison term of up to 6 months.

 

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

  • The police officer will not conduct the breath test at random.
  • Only one mouthpiece must be used at each test.
  • You may ask to see the reading on the screening device
  • You may ask to open the package containing the mouthpiece
  • Blood tests cannot be done without your consent.
  • Blood tests must only be done at a hospital by a medical practitioner or a qualified laboratory technician
  • You must be given a copy of the results of the evidence test.

KNOW THE POLICE POWERS
The police have the authority to:

  • Stop you if he has reasonable cause to believe that you are driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Ask you to do a breath test
  • Ask you to do a blood test if you are unable to do a breath test

 

 - National Road Safety Council