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Protocol - Alcohol Breathalyzer

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Description:

The purpose of this protocol is to measure the concentration of alcohol (ethanol) in the participant’s breath. After 20 minutes of observation, the participant blows steadily into a device called a breathalyzer used to measure the breath alcohol concentration. The result is measured in grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, which is used as a proxy for blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A person’s BAC is equivalent to the percent by weight of alcohol in a person’s blood based upon grams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.

Protocol:

Follow the breathalyzer manufacturer’s instructions.

Explain to the participant that you are about to obtain his/her blood alcohol reading with a breathalyzer device. Also explain that you need to observe him/her for 20 minutes before the test and that he/she should not drink anything including water during that time.

Document the time that the observation began. __ __: __ __ am/pm

Prepare the breathalyzer device. Attach a new mouthpiece to the device. Some devices require calibration or a preliminary test; if so, record the results.

Document the time the observation ended. __ __: __ __ am/pm

(Ask participant) Have you belched, burped, regurgitated, or taken a drink of anything in the past 20 minutes?

1 [ ] Yes - Observe for another 20 minutes.

2 [ ] No - Proceed with breath test.

Ask participant to blow steadily into the breathalyzer.

Do not record this result. Wait 2 minutes.

(Ask participant) Have you belched, burped, regurgitated, or taken a drink of anything in the past 2 minutes?

1 [ ] Yes - Observe for another 20 minutes.

2 [ ] No - Proceed with breath test.

Ask participant to blow steadily into the breathalyzer a second time.

Record this result. 0. _ _ grams per 210 liters of breath.

(If necessary, conduct a third test after waiting 2 minutes and ask the question above.)

Interpretation of Results

A person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is related to a number of factors including the quantity of alcohol consumed, rate of consumption, gender, weight, and prior ingestion of food (Hingson et al., 1999; see Figure 1, p. 32). All states in the United States have adopted 0.08% (80 mg/dl) as the legal BAC limit for operating a motor vehicle for drivers aged 21 years or older (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). However, drivers younger than 21 are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle with any level of alcohol in their system. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approves "evidential breath testing devices" (EBTs) with reliable results of 0.02% or greater. Although many breathalyzers measure BACs below 0.02% it is considered the lowest positive value. Note: Legal limits do not define a level below which it is safe to operate a vehicle or engage in some other activity. Impairment due to alcohol use can occur at levels well below the legal limit, starting at 0.01% (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1994), and the level of impairment is positively related to BAC level.

Protocol Name from Source:

Virginia Department of Forensic Science. (2005, September). Breath alcohol section. Breath test operator instructional manual

Availability:

Publicly available

Personnel and Training Required

Use of a breathalyzer requires training on how to administer the device and maintenance and calibration.

Equipment Needs

Commonly used breathalyzer for field sobriety tests, preferably a breathalyzer that measures alcohol via infrared spectrometry

Additional mouthpieces

Maintenance and calibration log

Requirements
Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Bioassay

Life Stage:

Adolescent, Adult, Senior

Participants:

Adolescents and adults aged 13 years and older

Specific Instructions:

U.S. law enforcement agencies utilize breathalyzers to quickly and accurately measure BAC for sobriety tests. Some of the most common law enforcement breathalyzers use infrared spectrometry technology. Some models provide results to different numbers of decimal places, which may affect how data are combined across studies. The Working Group does not recommend a particular breathalyzer manufacturer or device but does suggest that a breathalyzer be chosen that is commonly used for field sobriety tests and that the breathalyzer measures the percent BAC to one hundredths.

The participant may have residual alcohol in the mouth which would cause a much higher BAC. This factor is minimized by observing the participant for 20 minutes and ensuring that he/she has not belched, burped, regurgitated, or taken a drink.

The Substance Abuse and Addiction Working Group acknowledges that the following questions may gather sensitive information relating to the use of substances and/or illegal conduct. If the information is released, it might be damaging to an individual’s employability, lead to social stigmatization, or lead to other consequences.

Most researchers assure confidentiality as part of their informed consent process, as required by their institutional review boards. When assessing minors with these questions, it may be necessary to obtain informed consent from a parent of the adolescent. Further assurance of confidentiality may be obtained by applying to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a Certificate of Confidentiality, which helps researchers protect the privacy of human research participants. The procedures for the Certificate of Confidentiality can be found at the Grants Policy website of the NIH: http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/policy/coc/index.htm.

Selection Rationale

A breathalyzer is used by law enforcement officers throughout the United States for field sobriety tests. If used correctly, it is an accurate method to quantify the concentration of alcohol in the breath and serves as a proxy for blood alcohol concentration.

Language

English

Standards
StandardNameIDSource
Common Data Elements (CDE) Alcohol Breathalyzer Gram Alcohol Per 210 Liter Breath 3332422 CDE Browser
Derived Variables

None

Process and Review

The Expert Review Panel #3 (ERP 3) reviewed the measures in Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Substances, and Substance Abuse and Addiction domains.

Guidance from ERP 3 includes:

• No significant changes to measure

Back-compatible: NA no changes to Data Dictionary

Source

Virginia Department of Forensic Science. (2005, September). Breath alcohol section. Breath test operator instructional manual.

General References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2011). Alcohol and public health - Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#legalLimit

Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Highway Safety Programs. (2010). Conforming products list of evidential breath alcohol measurement devices. Federal Register, 75(47), 11624-11627.

Godley, S. H., Godley, M. D., Wright, K. L., Funk, R. R., & Petry, N. M. (2008). Contingent reinforcement of personal goal activities for adolescents with substance use disorders during post-residential continuing care. American Journal on Addictions, 17(4), 278-286.

Hingson, R. W., Heeren, T., & Winter, M. R. (1999). Preventing impaired driving. Alcohol Research & Health, 23(1), 31-39.

Kaminer, Y., Burleson, J. A., & Burke, R. H. (2008). Efficacy of outpatient aftercare for adolescents with alcohol use disorders: a randomized controlled study. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 47(12), 1405-1412.

Moskowitz, H., Burns, M. M., & Williams, A.F. (1985). Skills performance at low blood alcohol levels. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 46(6), 482-485.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). (1994, July). Alcohol-related impairment. Alcohol Alert, 25(PH 351). Retrieved from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa25.htm

Norman, A. L., Pulido, C., Squeglia, L. M., Spadoni, A. D., Paulus, M. P., & Tapert, S. F. (2011). Neural activation during inhibition predicts initiation of substance use in adolescence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. [Epub ahead of print]

Swift, R. (2003). Direct measurement of alcohol and its metabolites. Addiction, 98(Suppl 2), 73-80.

Virginia Tech University. (2011). Students: Alcohol’s effects.

Protocol ID:

510501

Variables:
Export Variables
Variable NameVariable IDVariable DescriptionVersiondbGaP Mapping
PX510501_Belched_Burped_Regurgitated_Drank1 PX510501030000 Have you belched, burped, regurgitated, or taken a drink of anything in the past 20 minutes? 4 N/A
PX510501_Belched_Burped_Regurgitated_Drank2 PX510501040000 (Ask participant) Have you belched, burped, regurgitated, or taken a drink of anything in the past 2 minutes? 4 N/A
PX510501_Belched_Burped_Regurgitated_Drank3 PX510501060000 (Ask participant) Have you belched, burped, regurgitated, or taken a drink of anything in the past 2 minutes? 4 N/A
PX510501_Breathalyzer_Result PX510501050000 Ask participant to blow steadily into the breathalyzer a second time. Record this result. 4 N/A
PX510501_Breathalyzer_Result_3 PX510501070000 Ask participant to blow steadily into the breathalyzer a second time. Record this result. 4 N/A
PX510501_Time_Observation_Began PX510501010200 Document the time that the observation began. time 4 N/A
PX510501_Time_Observation_Began_Am/pm PX510501010100 Document the time that the observation began. Am/pm 4 N/A
PX510501_Time_Observation_Ended PX510501020200 Document the time that the observation ended. time 4 N/A
PX510501_Time_Observation_Ended_Am/pm PX510501020100 Document the time that the observation ended. Am/pm 4 N/A
Research Domain Information
Measure Name:

Alcohol Breathalyzer

Release Date:

November 21, 2016

Definition

Bioassay used to detect and quantify recent alcohol use.

Purpose

This assay is used to detect whether the participant has recently used alcohol, and it is a quantitative assay that can be used to measure the concentration of alcohol in breath.

Keywords

Alcohol, BAC, Bioassay, Blood Alcohol Concentration, Breathalyzer, SAA, Substance Use, Assessment of Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders