Alcohol Detection and Interlock


Today, alcohol is an integral part of many societies around the globe.Whether at festive occasions, at a nice dinner party or simply as a reward at the end of a working day - for many people, alcohol is an indispensable part of everyday life.

Despite its popularity, alcohol is far more dangerous to people and our society than we would like to admit. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 3 million people die every year as a result of alcohol consumption. This corresponds to one death every 12 seconds. In addition, alcohol has been proven to contribute to the occurrence of more than 200 diseases. The resulting healthcare costs for the general public are incredibly high. Although widespread, social drinking is not the main issue: Continuous alcohol abuse is what causes great damage in our society.

Evidence-based Measurement Technology for Controls by Authorities

It has surely happened to almost every driver among us. On the way home, you are stopped by the police and have to perform a breathalyzer test. Most of these breath alcohol testing devices are still based on electrochemical cells - and are thus prone to error due to the technology and age over time of use.


Therefore, a positive result still required confirmation by blood sample. This additional effort can now be avoided by so-called "evidence-proof" measuring systems. Depending on the country-specific regulations, these consist of an evidence-proof measurement technology or two redundant measurement systems. Optical methods such as non-dispersive infrared spectroscopy (NDIR) are considered evidence-proof systems. This technology is classified to be very low-maintenance, less susceptible to drift and shows no age-related performance losses. In stationary devices for operational vehicles, this technology has been proven for years. In the meantime, there is also a trend towards converting small handheld devices to this technology.

Intelligent Systems to Prevent Traffic Accidents

One in ten traffic fatalities worldwide is caused by drunk driving. Unfortunately, police can't be everywhere and prevent or stop every DUI (driving under influence).

The development of alcohol ignition interlock systems aims to prevent drunk driving. These systems are based on the principle of the electrochemical cell and therefore have to be recalibrated up to twice a year. This generates enormous operating costs for the vehicle owner. Which is likely to be one of the reasons why these systems have not yet made it onto the broad mass market. So far, they have mainly been used for professional drivers or people who have already committed alcohol-related offenses. There are pilot projects that aim to convert these systems to solutions with infrared spectroscopy. Several infrared sensors are installed around the driver, for example in the steering wheel or in the A-pillar. These continuously measure the driver's breath and can even determine alcohol consumption while driving. In addition, ignition interlocks that unlock with fingerprints can be used. This uses infrared sensors to measure the alcohol concentration in the blood vessels near the surface of the finger. If the result is positive, the vehicle can no longer be started.

Long-term Stable Measurement Systems are Crucial

This technique based on infrared spectroscopy can also be usefully applied in other fields. For example, for access control to sensitive areas.


On the one hand, these can be companies that need to control the sober state of their employees due to the work to be performed there. On the other hand, this could also be used for public or sporting events. Since it is known that the potential for aggression increases under the influence of alcohol, riots at such events could be significantly reduced. In any case, the areas of application for infrared spectroscopy are manifold. It is then all the more important that dependable components are used. Axetris infrared sources guarantee reliably high emission performance in the spectral range in which alcohol is typically measured, while requiring little maintenance. This offers decisive advantages for the end users of this spectroscopy technology.