Happy 50th Birthday to the roadside breathalyser test!

Before the breathalyser test was introduced in 1967, drunk suspects had to stand on one leg!

It was 50 years yesterday since the first ever roadside breathalyser test was carried out in the UK.
Up until its introduction back in 1967, if a driver was pulled over by the police on suspicion of being over the limit, the police officer asked the driver to carry out a more simplified way of testing – the suspected drunk had to either stand on one leg or touch their nose.
The year the breath test was introduced, a staggering 1,640 road deaths were put down to alcohol and since the breathalyser appeared in the UK, there’s been an eight-fold reduction in the number of fatalities on the road related to alcohol – even though there’s a much higher number of car owner’s and cars on the road today.

Before the breathalyser test was introduced in 1967, drunk suspects had to stand on one leg!

Happy 50th Birthday to the roadside breathalyser test first introduced in 1967 © Copyright Gerald England and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

So the roadside breathalyser test has proved itself a winner, however recent statistics from the DfT claim that 200 people each year still die as a result of a crash in which at least one driver is over the alcohol limit.
The Department for Transport’s stats from 2015 also showed a 9% rise in the number of casualties left seriously injured following a drink-driving crash, up from 1,070 in 2014 to 1,170 in 2015 – the first increase since 2011.
When 520,219 roadside breath tests were carried out in 2015, over 60,000 drivers, or one out of eight, failed the test or refused to take it.
According to the report from the DfT, figures show that male drivers are twice as likely to fail a breath test than women, not matter what their age.
During the first 12 months of the breathalyser test, there were 1,000 less fatalities and 11,000 fewer serious injuries on Britain’s roads, which proves that the roadside breath test was justified and particularly necessary.
The first roadside breathalyser consisted of a rough ‘blow in the bag’ device that gave the police a hint as to whether the driver was over the limit.
Breath tests carried out today are much more advanced and accurate, however drivers pulled over on suspicion of drink-driving by the police still need to provide an infra-red breath test as evidence.
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