Alco-sensor FST

The FST is a new generation of handheld alcohol screening device that went into service in BC in 2015. Both the AS IV and the FST are currently in use. Like the AS IV, it is a portable device with a small display for messages, prompts, and breath test readings. Like the AS IV, it also provides numerical readings at BACs of 0 – 59 mg%, WARN messages in the range of 60 – 99 mg%, and FAIL messages for 100 mg% or higher. The FST must be calibrated correctly and operated properly in order for the test results to be accurate and reliable.

Like the AS IV, the FST uses fuel cell technology.

When taking a breath sample from a driver with the FST device:

1. The police officer starts a test sequence by pressing the power button of the FST. The device will display an internal temperature that must fall within an acceptable range, followed by an air blank check that must give a zero reading. The sequence continues displaying WAIT until the device is ready to accept a sample by indicating BLOW and a flashing icon of a person’s head.

2. Qualified operators of the FST are trained to provide specific instructions of how to blow into the device and drivers should be advised to:

“take a normal breath in, seal your lips around the mouthpiece, and blow continuously through the mouthpiece until I tell you to stop”

3. When the driver starts to blow into the device, the message BLOW will disappear and be replaced by one, two, or three dashes. If the flow of breath from the driver is of sufficient force and duration, the breath sample will be analyzed, and the device will display:
– a number for a BAC of less than 60mg%,
– the message WARN, for a BAC of 60 – 99 mg%
– the message FAIL, for a BAC of 100 mg% or higher.

4. If the breath sample is not accepted by the device, one of four different messages will be displayed: Flow LOW, Flow INS, Flow HI, & Flow CUT, depending on what the problem was with the breath sample. If the sample is not accepted on the first try, the device will automatically return to BLOW and the flashing head icon so that another blow can be attempted. There are up to three opportunities to blow during a single test sequence. If a breath sample is not accepted by the third attempt, the sequence ends. A new test sequence will have to be started before another breath sample can be attempted.

5. The test result will be shown to the driver because the FST does not produce a paper report. If the result of the breath test is a WARN or a FAIL, the officer must offer the driver a second breath test on another handheld screening device. This second test is optional to the driver.

6. The police officer will write down the results and details of the breath test. The officer will also include a brief description of the device operation, and the way in which the breath sample was, or was not, provided. These details will be recorded in the IRP narrative, as well as in the Report to Superintendent. This evidence can be very important in supporting any FAIL, WARN, or Refusal IRPs. Sometimes the police officer will make an error, leave out important details, or provide confusing descriptions of device messages – leading to concerns the device was not being operated properly or was not functioning properly.

7. Not every police officer may operate the FST. All qualified users of the device must successfully complete a training course and must indicate in the documentation they are a qualified operator of the FST.