Accuracy Check and Calibration of ASDs

Evidentiary breathalyzers (such as the Intoximeter EC/IR II) used in criminal impaired driving investigations are located in police offices and have their accuracies checked every time a breath sample is taken; this ensures each sample is accurate. However the accuracies of the handheld alcohol screening devices are not checked at the roadside, but are instead checked in the police office up to four weeks before a roadside breath test. This procedure is performed by “ASD Calibrators”, who are police officers who have taken advanced and specialized training in addition to the basic ASD operator training course.

Calibrators check FST and AS IV accuracies by analyzing a sample from an alcohol standard solution with a known amount of alcohol, instead of analyzing a breath sample from a person. The result displayed by the device must be sufficiently close to the known value of the alcohol standard to ensure the device is properly calibrated. Occasionally, the calibrator will need to adjust the accuracy of the device because the result of this test is too far from the known value. The test is then repeated to make sure the adjustment was done correctly. Usually, though, the screening devices do not require an accuracy adjustment.

Following a successful accuracy check, the Calibrator completes a Certificate of a Qualified ASD Calibrator (for the AS IV) or a Certificate of Qualified Alco-Sensor FST Calibrator (for the FST) identifying the screening device by serial number, and the alcohol standard by lot number. These important documents certify the device was found to be functioning correctly at the time of the accuracy check.

The alcohol standard solution used by the calibrator must be analyzed by an RCMP Forensic Laboratory Analyst and is legally certified a “suitable solution” as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada. The standards are identified by manufacturer name, lot number, and expiry date and this must be accurately recorded in the certificates prepared by the Calibrators. Only these “suitable solutions” are used as alcohol standards.

These certificates are submitted to RoadSafetyBC and become part of the disclosure package of information that is provided to drivers or their legal counsels when an IRP review is requested. These certificates are important documents that determine if the device was functioning correctly at the time of the accuracy check. Certificates contain important technical information that must be recorded accurately and errors or omissions in the certificate will lead to a revocation of the IRP.