THE BREATH TEST
What is the Breath Test?
A breath test is the means by which the breath is checked to find
the amount of alcohol in the body.
It is safe and reliable method, to make sure that motorists who
drink alcohol and drive do not put other person’s lives in
How is the Breath Test done?
There are two instruments used for breath testing. The first is a
Screening Instrument which is a hand-held instrument carried by
the policeman on the beat. It does the first test to show:
if there is alcohol in the body, and
if it is above the legal limit
The second instrument is called the Evidence Instrument.
This instrument also tests for the level of alcohol in the body
but this second test, gives the result printed on an Evidence Card.
- Your name
- Your licence number
- The time at which the test was done
- The amount of alcohol found in your body
When is the test done?
If a police officer has reasonable cause to believe that you are
driving under the influence of alcohol, then he will ask you to
do a breath test.
The officer will ask you to blow into the Screening Instrument.
This will show if you had too much alcohol to drink, that is, if
you are above the legal alcohol limit. If the screen test shows that
you are above the legal alcohol limit, then you will be taken to
the nearest police station where you will be asked to do an Evidence
You will get a printed copy of the results of the test, which you
should take to court with you.
The mouthpiece into which you blow, will be used for only one test.
It comes in a sealed package and is taken out only for your test.
You will not be exposed to any diseases.
WHAT IS THE LEGAL ALCOHOL LIMIT?
The legal alcohol limit is the highest level of alcohol which the
law allows you to have in you body.
This is determined by the amount of alcohol you drink. Remember
that the amount of alcohol which gets you drunk, depends on many
factors, for example, your size, weight, sex and whether you ate
The law states that the legal alcohol limit is 35 microgrammes of
alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath or a blood alcohol level of
80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.
THE BLOOD TEST
You will only be asked to take a blood test if you are unable to
take a breath test. Blood tests will only be done at a hospital
by a medical practitioner or a qualified laboratory technician.
A blood test can only be done with your consent. You will not be
asked to do a blood test if a breath test has been done.
If you fail the breath test, you can, on conviction, be fined up
to $3,000 or serve a term of up to 6 months in prison. You can also
gain 14 demerit points on your driver’s licence.
If you are caught a second time, you can be fined up to $5,000 or
be put in prison for a term of up to 12 months.
If you refuse to do the breath test, you can be fined up to $3,000
or serve a prison term of up to 6 months.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
- The police officer will not conduct the breath test at
- Only one mouthpiece must be used at each test.
- You may ask to see the reading on the screening device
- You may ask to open the package containing the mouthpiece
- Blood tests cannot be done without your consent.
- Blood tests must only be done at a hospital by a medical practitioner
or a qualified laboratory technician
- You must be given a copy of the results of the evidence test.
KNOW THE POLICE POWERS
The police have the authority to:
- Stop you if he has reasonable cause to believe that you are driving
under the influence of alcohol
- Ask you to do a breath test
- Ask you to do a blood test if you are unable to do a breath test
NOTES TO REMEMBER
Legal alcohol limit
The highest level of alcohol which the law allows you have to have
in your body.
A hand-held instrument carried by the policeman to do the breath
The second test done at the police station which gives you the printed
The paper which you receive at the police station with the results
of the test.
- It is dangerous to drink and drive.
Alcohol affects the driver’s co-ordination, reaction
time and the ability to perform different tasks.