The drink drive breathalyser is 50 years old in 2017. British police carried out the first roadside breath test on a motorist in Shropshire on 8 October 1967.
Prior to that, the criteria for prosecution were somewhat less scientific – whether you could touch your nose with your eyes shut, walk in a straight line or stand on one leg.
The original “blow in the bag” breathalyser was a relatively crude device, initially used to confirm a policeman’s suspicion that a motorist was under the influence. A subsequent blood or urine test at the police station provided the evidential proof.
The fuel-cell alcohol sensor was later developed, an electronic device that transformed the process of screening by providing the police with a quick test to accurately quantify the driver’s alcohol level at the kerbside.
For prosecution, a second evidential test needed to take place at the station using a second, more precise method than used at the scene. Until the 1990s, this involved blood or urine testing at the station which required a doctor to be called out to take the sample. The process was dramatically simplified with the invention of evidential infra-red breath testing at the station, offering comparable accuracy to blood testing.
What car does Singapore’s Traffic Police commander drive?