Choosing a Breath Alcohol Testing Instrument

How do I know which alcohol testing device to select?

With over 100 evidential breath testing devices listed on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Conforming Products List (CPL), selecting the right breath alcohol testing instrument for you can be dizzying.

First, it is important to understand that if you are going to be conducting any DOT alcohol testing whatsoever, you must use a device that is listed on NHTSA’s CPL.  Unfortunately, adding to the confusion, there are two NHTSA lists:

The devices listed on the Conforming Products List of Alcohol Screening Devices may be used for screening tests only.  Most devices listed on Conforming Products List of Evidential Breath Measurement Devices are approved for use for both screening and confirmation testing.  However, to confuse things further, there are a number of devices listed on the CPL of Evidential Breath Measurement Devices that may be used for screening tests only (notice they have asterisks by them on the list).  A number of devices listed on the CPL may also be obsolete, as they have aged and the manufacturer is no longer supporting them.

There are also a number of devices listed on the CPL of Evidential Breath Measurement Devices that do not have asterisks by the name that also cannot be used for full DOT testing (Examples: Lifeloc FC-10, FC-20; Intoximeters FST, Alco-sensor III; and many others).  They do not fit the DOT’s requirements in one way or another, such as; those listed above do not the ability to print the results from the device, which is required for DOT confirmation tests.  Before making a purchase, always check directly with the manufacturer or a reputable distributor to ask if the device meets ALL requirements for DOT screening AND confirmation testing.

If you are in the business (or getting into the business) of offering breath alcohol testing to companies, your customers are going to expect you to conduct the full testing process – both the screening and the confirmation test on their employees.  Primarily then, you will need to purchase a device that is on the Conforming Products List of Evidential Breath Measurement Devices (and be sure it doesn’t have an “*” by its name).

Next, cost is likely a consideration in your purchase.  Not all breath testing devices are created equal – in both price and options.  Most buyers are looking for the best device they can get that fits their budget.  To select the best device that fits your needs at the best price, consider what is important to you in your breath testing program.  Do you need portability or would you prefer a larger, desktop unit?  Would you like a convenient built-in printer?  Do you need your device to be able to print past test records?  Decide which features and functions you really need and want, and narrow it down from there.  Numerous instruments on the market have features galore — many of which you will never need or use — and generally, the more bells and whistles, the more you will pay for the device.  A good rule of thumb is to create a balance between options and price.

Be wary of devices you may find on the Internet for cheap (a few hundred dollars or less) that claim to be “DOT-approved”.  These are likely screening devices only, and they won’t do you any good if you plan to offer full alcohol testing services to your customers.

Another cost consideration is consumables (supplies such as mouthpieces, gas tanks, testing forms, and other required supplies).   You may find a good price on an instrument, but later find out that mouthpieces – which may only be used once and then must be discarded – are very costly for your particular device.  Check the cost of mouthpieces and other supplies before you make your purchase to be sure you can live with the recurring supplies costs for your device.

Yet another, and important, cost consideration is training on your device.  If you are planning to offer DOT alcohol testing services, the Federal Regulations require that breath alcohol technicians (BATs) receive certification training on the specific make and model of the instrument from a qualified trainer on your specific device.  Be sure to confirm in advance that DOT-compliant training is available on your device at a fair price from a qualified trainer.

Additional considerations when researching breath alcohol instruments are:

  • Support and Warranty (from either the manufacturer or distributor)
  • Shipping – Costs and how quickly they ship (Do you have to wait several weeks before your device is shipped to you?)

At Certified Training Solutions, we have done a lot of the hard work for you in helping you select a breath testing device.  We scoured the market to find the most affordable, compliant, DOT-approved devices available today.  As an affiliate of PAS Systems International, Certified Training Solutions offers two evidential breath testing (EBT) device options which are available in various kit combinations to fit both your testing program needs and your budget.

Take a look at the Jupiter , Mercury, and MARK V Alcovisor devices, and see for yourself how we can help you start your testing program, or upgrade your old device, with the peace of mind that you are choosing the most convenient DOT-compliant instrument at the best price available on the market today.  All of this is available from the company that will offer you the best ongoing customer service and support available in the industry – Certified Training Solutions.

You may reach us by email at: Admin@CertifiedTrainingSolutions.com

Or by telephone at: 307-640-5859 or 213-308-7630


The information presented here is meant to provide general information and guidance. Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.  Legal advice must be provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship specifically with reference to all the facts of the particular situation under consideration. Such is not the case here, and accordingly, the information presented here must not be relied on as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the General Counsel.  When in doubt, check with your corporate legal counsel and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the General Counsel or an agent of the operating agency that covers your industry.  Certified Training Solutions is not responsible or liable for any loss or damage relating to the use of the information in this article. Before relying on the material in any important matter, users should carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.
Certified Training Solutions © Copyright August 2014; updated September 2020