Police officers are allowed, by law, to request screening samples of breath for alcohol at the roadside. If a person, without reasonable excuse, does not adequately perform the required breath test, there is a mandatory loss of driving license for one year and a fine. Although the breath testing devices in common use in Canada require minimum flow rates and effort, they have not been widely tested on individuals with respiratory disease. Moreover, because some individuals who perhaps would be found guilty of a breath testing related offence have falsely used respiratory disease as their excuse, little credibility has been given to individuals with severe lung disease who may truly be unable to provide adequate samples of breath.
To determine if patients with respiratory disease can provide adequate breath samples to meet the requirements of alcohol breath test machines; to determine whether the ability to provide a breath sample is related to pulmonary function values.
Prospective clinical evaluation.
Pulmonary function laboratory at a university hospital.
One hundred fifty undifferentiated patients referred for pulmonary function testing by their primary care physician.
Following informed consent and receiving proper instruction, patients provided a maximum of three breath samples into each of two alcohol breath testing devices (Dräger Alcotest® 7410 Breath Alcohol Monitor; Alcohol Countermeasure Systems Alcolmeter S-L2 Portable Breath Analysis System). The ability to provide adequate samples of breath into each device was recorded. Patients then performed pulmonary function tests.
48.7% and 19.3% of the participants failed to activate the Alcolmeter S-L2 and Alcotest 7410 breath testing devices, respectively. 18.7% of the participants could not activate either device. Some PFT values were significantly different between those that could provide adequate samples of breath and those that could not.
These data suggest that the Alcotest 7410 may be a more suitable alcohol breath testing device to use than the Alcolmeter S-L2.
A.R. Mc Ivor, Nova Scotia Lung Association Legacy Grant, Grant monies.