When police stop a suspected drunk driver, standard protocol is to have the driver complete a set of field sobriety tests and take a breath test to determine their blood alcohol content. Each time a person with alcohol in their system breathes out, they expel a small amount of vaporized alcohol. Breathalyzer machines are calculated to detect the infrared radiation, or IR, of ethanol, the chemical in alcoholic beverages that causes intoxication. Different organic compounds have different IR wavelengths.
If a driver in West Virginia or any other state drives with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher, he or she is committing a crime. It is usually labeled as either driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence. Drivers should know that driving after consuming any amount of alcohol can be dangerous. They should also be aware that they can be impaired without showing any symptoms.