National Draeger Model 900 Breathalyzer


Draeger Safety Inc.
c. 1984
Collection of the Ottawa Police Service

In 1954, Dr. Robert Borkenstein of the Indiana State Police invented the Breathalyzer, one type of breath alcohol testing device used by law enforcement agencies today. For many years Smith & Wesson manufactured these instruments, but they later sold the division to National Drager.

When someone consumes alcohol, it is not digested upon absorption, and does not chemically change in the bloodstream. While blood goes through the lungs, some of the alcohol moves across the membranes of the lung's air sacs called alveoli. Alcohol will evaporate from a solution, meaning it is volatile. So the concentration of the alcohol in the alveolar air is related to the concentration of alcohol in the blood.

Exhaled, alveolar air can be detected by a breathalyzer, enabling an officer to instantly test a driver's breath and assess whether there is reason to believe they are impaired and should not be operating a vehicle.

The Ottawa Police Service now uses the Intoxilyser 5000c.

Photo: National Draeger Model 900 Breathalyzer Photo: National Draeger Model 900 Breathalyzer