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Forensic Sci Int. 1985 Aug;28(3-4):157-65.

Evaluation of breath-alcohol instruments. IV. Roadside tests with Alcolmeter pocket model.


This paper reports results from a field trial with a breath-alcohol screening device--Alcolmeter pocket model. Breath tests were made with drivers apprehended during routine controls (road-blocks), for traffic violations and those involved in traffic accidents. Of 908 roadside breath tests made with chemical reagent tubes, 343 showed zero alcohol (no colour change) and these results were confirmed by Alcolmeter. Alcohol was detected in 191 tests but the level was judged as being below the legal limit of 0.50 mg/ml. The Alcolmeter results, however, ranged from 0 to 1.22 mg/ml (mean 0.21 mg/ml) and 15 individuals (7.8%) were above the legal limit. There were 373 positive chemical tube breath screening tests whereas in 5 cases (1.3%) Alcolmeter indicated a blood-alcohol level below 0.50 mg/ml. Duplicate determinations with the Alcolmeter device were highly correlated r = 0.93 +/- 0.02 (+/- S.E.), P less than 0.001. The standard deviation of a single breath-alcohol analysis under field conditions was +/- 0.10 mg/ml which corresponds to a coefficient of variation of 10%. The time interval between positive roadside breath test and blood-sampling ranged from 5 to 220 min (median 62 min). The results were therefore adjusted by 0.15 mg/ml per hour to compensate for ethanol metabolised between the time of sampling blood and breath. The corrected blood and breath values were well correlated r = 0.84 +/- 0.03, P less than 0.001 but the predictive power of the regression relationship was poor. The regression equation was y = 0.27 +/- 0.65x and the standard error estimate was +/- 0.21 mg/ml at the mean concentration of ethanol of 1.0 mg/ml.

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