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CMI Inc.


Breath Alcohol Testing Basics

History of Breath Alcohol Analysis

Drinking and Driving Creates the Need

As the automobile quickly became the transportation mode of choice in the early part of the 20th Century, a problem quickly emerged. More and more people who were intoxicated were getting behind the wheel and driving. As alcohol-related accidents and fatalities became more numerous, law enforcement needed new tools to find and take drunken drivers off the roads and streets.

An Industry Creates an Answer

In the 1940s, breath alcohol testers were developed by a handful of manufacturers and began to be used by law enforcement. Though the earliest models were rudimentary, they proved effective and provided immediate results where blood tests were impractical. In the years to follow, new breath testing methodologies, including gas chromotography, infrared spectrometry and fuel cell electrochemical were designed. Today, infrared spectrometry (IR) is the method of choice for evidential breath alcohol testing. Fuel cell-based testers have been used mainly for preliminary, at-the-scene law enforcement testing.

Breath Alcohol Testers Branch Out

In recent years, alcohol abuse in the workplace has emphasized the need for detection and intervention before costly and even deadly accidents can occur. Government regulators have mandated alcohol testing in nuclear power plants for several years, and the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation now requires alcohol testing for approximately 7.5 million "safety sensitive" employees in the trucking, airline, rail, transit, pipeline, and maritime industries. Testing of these employees is done randomly, for reasonable suspicion, post accident, and in follow-up situations following any positive tests. Because of their reliability, instant results and ease of use, all confirming tests for DOT-affected employees must be done on a breath alcohol tester.

Breath Alcohol Testing also being done by Non-Regulated Companies

Ever mindful of increasing liability, insurance premiums and Worker’s Compensation costs, an increasing number of non-regulated companies are implementing breath alcohol testing programs as part of their fight against substance abuse. Alcohol abuse costs companies billions each year. Consider that alcohol abuse causes:

  • 40% of industrial fatalities
  • 30-35% lower employee productivity
  • 20% of total company health care costs

When used as part of a comprehensive substance abuse program, testing employees for alcohol using breath testing instruments makes good economic sense.

CMI’s Intoxilyzer® is the Industry Leader

At the forefront of breath alcohol testing innovations and their ever-expanding use has been CMI, Inc. CMI’s Intoxilyzer® line is known for reliability and accuracy. Intoxilyzers are microprocessor-controlled, easy to operate and rugged.

Training and Company Support is #1

CMI and its network of representatives offer complete operator and Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT) training programs to ensure each testing program’s success. CMI developed the first independent BAT testing curriculum to be approved for Department of Transportation mandated testing, and CMI’s company support—from training to supplies to product manuals to expert testimony (if needed)—is second to none.

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