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How long can a breathalyzer detect alcohol?

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Quick Answer

Alcohol metabolizes at 0.015 blood alcohol content per hour, so a peak of 0.03 blood alcohol content dissipates in two hours, according to the Law Dictionary. The length of time a breathalyzer detects alcohol in the breath is dependent on several factors, including peak blood alcohol levels.

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Full Answer

The type of alcohol consumed, rate of consumption and amount of food on the stomach all affect the rate of metabolism. Some people metabolize alcohol at a faster rate than others. Even though a person shows no signs of intoxication, the breathalyzer continues to detect alcohol in the breath, notes Lifeloc Technologies. A person with twice the legal limit of alcohol requires more than 10 hours to sober completely. After five hours, he is still likely over the limit for driving.

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