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The Champion

June 2010 , Page 58 

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Flawed Conclusions Based on the Blood/Breath Ratio: A Critical Commentary

By Dominick A. Labianca Ph.D.

Read more DWI columns.

Any test conducted by a breath-alcohol analyzer on a human subject involves the analysis of a sample of breath in contact with the subject’s circulating pulmonary blood. The fundamental premise of such an analysis is that it is supposed to produce a result that reflects the corresponding blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of the individual providing the sample, assuming that the test is conducted in a jurisdiction where results are reported in terms of BAC.

Thus, breath-alcohol analysis is an indirect measure of a subject’s BAC, and this type of testing, therefore, necessarily requires that the measured breath-alcohol concentration (BrAC) be transformed into an associated BAC. Such a transformation entails the use of a conversion factor that is uniformly applied to all test subjects in a given jurisdiction. Problems stemming from the uniform application of that factor are addressed in this article.


The variability of the ratio of BAC to BrAC — a ratio hereinafter termed “BBR

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