Passive Alcohol Sensors....Why Bother?

October 26, 2015 - Passive Testing


At some point or another you have probably seen or at least heard of our passive alcohol flashlight or “Sniffer”. You may have been intrigued by it and then thought to yourself…”cool, but I don’t need that”. Well, statistics would disagree.  While overall, it is agreed that years on the job will hone an officer’s ability to sense when something isn’t quite right; the only sure fire way to detect the presence of alcohol (even at low levels) is through the use of technology such as passive alcohol sensors.

Agencies such as NTSB, IIHS and PIRE have routinely backed the use of passive alcohol technology in traffic enforcement efforts.  Here is what some of them have to say:

NTSB      Recommends conducting high-visibility enforcement of impaired driving laws using passive alcohol-sensing technology. NTSB/SR-13/01 May 14, 2013

  • When police officers use hand-held passive alcohol sensors at sobriety checkpoints, they identify significantly more drivers with elevated BAC levels than they do without the sensors.

  • For example, one study found that by using standard sobriety checkpoint protocols, police officers were able to identify 55 percent of drivers with BACs of 0.10 or higher and 26 percent of drivers with BACs between 0.05 and 0.10. By incorporating passive alcohol sensors, the officers’ detection rates increased to 71 and 39 percent, respectively.

  • Another study found that the DWI arrest rate for officers using passive sensors at sobriety checkpoints was more than double that of officers at checkpoints that did not employ passive sensors.

IIHS     “Officers using passive alcohol sensors are able to detect more impaired drivers than when they rely on judgment alone.” Status Report, IIHS May 12, 2015

 In an age when every move made is scrutinized, the PAS is a valuable tool to quickly and objectively help establish probable cause. It is designed for quick subsequent readings making it ideal for use at DUI checkpoints and its ability to detect even very low levels of alcohol make it optimal for Zero Tolerance situations.



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