Most instruments automatically sample a subject’s deep lung breath without the need for the operator to do anything but hold the instrument. But what about the subject who can’t – or won’t – blow hard and long enough to achieve an adequate breath sample? Most instruments will not sample a person’s breath in this situation, and will display an error message instead. What should a BAT do in this situation?
First of all the BAT should evaluate whether the subject is cooperating. The BAT is under no obligation to continue the test procedure with a subject who is not cooperating. One of the intuitive things an intoxicated person might do to beat a breath alcohol test is to not blow very hard into the instrument. The BAT may discontinue testing when it is obvious that the subject is making no effort to comply with the blowing instructions.
Assuming that the subject is cooperating – which is almost always the case – the BAT is obligated to do what they can to achieve a successful breath alcohol test. The most common reason that a subject cannot provide an adequate breath sample is failure to understand the blowing instructions. Therefore, the BAT typically will explain the blowing instructions again and perform another test sequence.
In the unusual circumstance that the subject is not able to blow adequately after repeated attempts, the BAT may perform a manual breath sample. When performing a manual breath sample the BAT overrides the automatic breath sampling system to perform a test. When performed correctly a manual breath sample will always provide a successful test result. AlcoPro’s BAT classes train every operator in the procedures to perform a manual breath sample. Because the manual testing procedure is typically done so infrequently AlcoPro recommends that BATs practice the procedure periodically to maintain their competency.